3 Lessons from 3 Years of Trail Running
In this blog I will share the 3 most important lessons that I have learnt over the past 3 years of competitive trail running.
My adventure started after I decided to finish playing Soccer and was after a new challenge. I had always been good at long distance running but trail running offered a new and exciting challenge.
For those who don't know trail running involves long distance “cross country” running mostly through national or conservation parks, which means lots of hills, rocks, mud, tree branches and wildlife.
Here are the 3 Lessons from my 3 years of trail running:
Lesson 1: Preparation Leads to Success
Going into my first trail event “Mount Misery” a 16km race with approximately 800m elevation, I was ignorant of the magnitude of the challenge.
My preparation for the event was one 12km jog around Cleland the week before the event and buying some new trail running shoes.
Unsurprisingly, during the race I strained both my calves after 5km and struggled to finish.
This woke me up to the fact that I needed to change something if I was to continue racing.
- 2 leg weight sessions per week including functional exercises
- A minimum of 3 runs per week with at least 1 long trail
- Changing my mindset on how to tackle hills and the terrain
Over the following seasons I began training both physically and mentally to be able to survive and thrive on the trails.
Lesson 2: Plan your Training to Keep Running
When I started trail running competitively my training program was all over the place to say the least.
I made the mistake of heavy weights in the morning followed by a run in the afternoon and wondering why I was always straining my already weak calves.
On top of that I would run maximum 2 times per week around 5km each then ask my body to do a 15km trail run out of nowhere.
As I soon discovered,
LOAD MANAGEMENT IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS IN REDUCING INJURY RISK.
I am not claiming to have the best program or to be a top athlete but I changed my training habits and load to allow me to do what I want to achieve.
Since changing my program I have not strained my calf since (touch wood).
Now, I will always try to run in the mornings, then if I am to do a weight training session it will be in the afternoon. This is followed by at least 24 hours of rest and recovery, which works for my body.
Your best training will be different to mine it all depends on what you can currently achieve and what you want to achieve.
Lesson 3: Mentality and Mindset is 70% of Trail Running
You can do all the training you like but if you are not prepared mentally for the next 2 hours of hills and pain you won't make the end.
When you come face to face with a hill if you are not in the right mindset the hill will look double the height.
Having a positive attitude and mindset makes the hills much easier to tackle.
3 tactics that I apply during a hill climb is:
- Take short, quick steps
- Keep my head down
- Never look at the top!
The main thing to remember is to embrace the challenge and enjoy the scenery.
We are lucky to have so many local trails and parks available so when you are on a run enjoy the moment and take it all in.
Podiatrist at Complete Podiatry