Last weekend I had the pleasure of joining a Trail Running Camp in the Grampians. Whilst I have done a few trail running races in the past few years, most of my running & training is confined to the Bayside & Melbourne CBD area, hence rather flat and very few trails, let alone mountains! It was my recent foray up to the Mt. Buffalo Chalet a few weeks ago, that inspired me to seek more trail running experience as I prepare for the Wonderland Run in August
And so I joined the Wildplans Trail Running Camp, and this is what I learned.
- Trail Running is fun!
Actually, not just fun, it is exhilirating! Spectacular scenery, fresh mountain air, challenging terrain, and fast wind in your hair descents that feel like mountain biking without wheels. So much fun!
- You are allowed to stop in Trail Running!
You are allowed to stop and take photos, you can talk, you're even allowed to walk when trail running. Well, it is almost impossible to run all the way, as some of the climbs are so steep, walking or climbing is the only option, and often more efficient than trying to run anyway.
Typically marathon training is all about paces, heart rate zones, threshold runs, pace runs, fast intervals. There's no stopping for photos, and you can barely talk anyway except on your blissful long steady runs on a weekend. In Trail running you are training all your different energy systems at once or altenating between them depedning on the terrain, at the same time as developing strength & condition from hills, stairs, climbs, & tricky descents. This requires good mental focus that also hones your running skills of foot placement, knee drive, glute activation and trunk stability to keep you upright & moving efficiently over the ground. It's definitely an all-in-one workout!
- It's easier on your body!
Trail Running is overall slower paced than road running, and you tend to take lots of smalerl steps hence lightening the load on your body. Additionally, the terrain is so varied that your feet, legs, hips and trunk are constantly adjusting & changing their position and loading all of the time. In essence sharing the work-load around. You definitely use all of your body negotitating the trails, and whilst you can feel it the next day in areas you don't normally, it's a good kind of sore. As a result, you are less likely to develop the repetitive overload issues associated with pavement pounding.
- You get to buy heaps of cool stuff
Trail running require a bit more gear than on the road, which means you get to buy more cool stuff, which runners love. When hitting the trails or mountains you need to be prepared for anything, and could be out there for a long time, and in any kind of weather.
One of the coolest pieces of kit I was introduced to is called a THIR, which is a multi-functional headwear and a must for all runners looking to keep their ears, or head warm on chilly mornings and mountain tops. Not forgetting, but they are also sun (UV) protecting, eco-friendly, high performance fabric (Endura-cool), moisture wicking (sweat wiping), lightweight & highly breathable; You should really check these out!
Wildplans are a highly professional outfit, lead by two of Australia's finest trail & ultra running athletes in Kellie Emmerson, and Tegyn Angel. These two can teach you everything you need to know about trail running, most importantly how to be well prepared and safe in the process.
Trail Running is a great adjunct to your training program, regardless of what you are training for. It provides variety for your body & mind, is both physiaclly & mentally challenging, and above all exhilirating and fun. However, make sure you are well prepared, know what you are getting yourself into, and be safe.
As always, Run Well!