Whilst searching for some fresh advice for my trail running training I was lucky to come across Sandra Laflamme's (Organic Runner Mom) blog.
In this blog article, I would love to quote Sandra's 12 amazing and noteworthy tips for your personal trail running training and success because at the end of the day, The Kenya Wildlife Marathon 2015 is going to be a unique trail run in Kenya's stunning wilderness.
1. Choose trail shoes.
For training Road shoes are fin for trail running however you might enjoy a sole with more intense traction capabilities for navigating over slippery rocks and challenging footing.
2. Train with a hydration pack and food for refueling.
Depending on the length of trail race you will be running aid stations are sometimes few and far between whereas some will have aid stations packed with all kinds of goodies ranging from gummy bears to potato chips to soda. I find that it is easiest to carry your own hydration and fueling supplies so that you don’t get stuck on the trail feeling like you might bonk. (Checkout hydration options)
3. Leave no trace.
You will be running on quiet, pristine trails so be prepared to carry out what you bring in. This is another reason training with your hydration pack on will come in handy or be sure to wear clothes with pockets for carrying your energy gels.
4. Trail racing requires balance.
During a trail race you will encounter rocks, roots, sticks, tree branches, holes and more. This varying terrain will require that you include strengthening exercises in your training that will improve your overall balance and ankle stability (i.e. step ups and walking lunges with weights). Improving your core strength will also help you to nimbly navigate over challenging trail terrain without missing a beat.
5. Throw your road racing pace out the window.
When you begin training for your first trail race do not be discouraged if your pace time is slower than on the road. This is normal! Your times will be slower because you will need to navigate over more difficult ground. You will often need to spend time working your way around obstacles or trying not to lose your footing on slippery leaves or rocks.
6. Do speed workouts on the track or on the road.
In order be fast on the trails continuing your normal speed workouts (fartleks and intervals) will keep your overall speed up when you head out on the trail. It is definitely okay to do these workouts where you feel comfortable.
7. Pick up your feet!
When you are training on the trails make sure you keep long strides with high knees. This is especially important to keep in mind if you are out for a long training run or participating in a long race. As your body becomes fatigued your strides can become shorter. This can cause unexpected tripping and falling down on the trails (believe me, this has happened to me and it’s not pretty!)
8. Hills! Hills! Hills!
Just like in road racing, hill repeats will help you to build leg strength and will be necessary to help improve your aerobic capacity. This is also a good opportunity to practice using strong arm swing to help you climb each hill using not only the power of your legs but also your core and upper body too! Many trail races venture into mountainous territory so you will be glad you tackled those hills during training.
9. Find a friend to train with.
Trails can be a fun adventure but it is smart to train with a friend in case you find yourself off the trail or injured. Plus training with a friend makes the adventure more fun and you will have plenty of stories and laughs to share from the trail.
10. Bring a map.
If you are unfamiliar with a trail system bring along a map so that you are able to navigate your way back to the end of the trail. If you are like me, my internal compass is broken so a map is a must!
11. Vary the conditions in which you train.
Weather can have an impact on trail conditions making them muddy and slick so be sure to hit the trails during your training even if they are a total mud pit. You need to be prepared for anything on race day.
12. Relish the adventure.
One of the best parts of training for a trail race is the training because you will get to soak up the nature that surrounds you including unexpected vistas and hidden waterfalls. There is nothing better than discovering a new trail with an incredible scenic overlook!
We hope you find these 12 tips just as useful as we do. Make sure you get out there and train! The Kenya Wildlife Marathon 2015 is coming closer ...