If you’re a trail runner training for a race, there are some important non-running training tips to include in your plan to make sure you do and finish the race feeling strong, healthy and mentally tough, so both your body and brain are in their comfort zone. You need to train for your strength, brain power, nutrition and fueling, and finding the right gear. Once you’ve sorted out every aspect of a race, it will make it more enjoyable, less stressful, which will increase your energy, positivity and endurance. Avoiding stress will protect your body from many negative issues that stress can affect (physical, digestive and emotional).
1. Strength Training
Adding some strength and core training sessions at least 2-3 times/week will help you run faster and longer feeling healthy and avoid injuries. Especially during long-distance races, once your body senses some fatigue, your running form can get imbalanced and you might start dealing with some muscle issues. If your full body muscles are strong, your core, arms and legs, your energy power will be higher during a long-distance race. You can add some basic core at home workouts to make it easier with some busy schedule. If you don’t have access to a gym you can do it all at home with a set of dumbbells. Include some good glutes strengthening exercises to build up a great strong running form.
Hiking is part of most long-distance trail races, hiking up all the steep inclines is crucial to make it to the finish line and keeping a steady pace. Pushing too hard during the climbing can make it challenging to finish the race. Power hiking is a skill, and it must be practiced and part of your training. It is important to get comfortable into switching between hiking and running during a long race. Also, another great benefit of adding hikes, is spending more time on your feet and legs, by improving their endurance and strength. Hikes with family and friends are also good training sessions for long-distance races.
3. Nutrition and Fueling
Finding the right nutrition and fueling according to your training schedule and races is very important. Feeding your body with the right nutrients in the right amount will maximize your energy levels and recovery. You need to eat according to your training intensity and distance, as your training changes, you should readjust your nutrition. During long-distance or high intensity training blocks, you need to increase your calorie and carbohydrates consumption slightly to ensure your body has adequate fuel. Nutrition timing is also the key to helping with your training. Before runs or workouts you need to reduce the fat, fiber and protein intake, carbohydrates are crucial for long-distance or high intensity runs. But after training sessions, protein, healthy fat and some carbohydrates will help with recovery and promote essential muscle repair. Part of your training should also include testing what you need and can eat before, during and after a long-distance run. Short-distance runs mostly need hydration and electrolytes. You need to test what your body will tolerate best, in which type (solid, liquid, gel), and which flavor your body will like. During long-distance races, our body often appreciates having access to different flavors. To add or mimic the conditions of your race into your training, will allow you to get comfortable with the right nutrition and fueling and give you the greatest chance of having a great race feeling strong.
4. Find the Right Gear
Finding and testing the right gear for a specific race is crucial in order to avoid any pain, chafing, blisters, injuries. Shoes: One of the most important gear is shoes. Wearing the right type of shoes according to your foot type, size, pronation, the distance, the course (more technical trail, more concrete) will make the whole distance feel comfortable and happy. Racepack: Another important gear to find the right size and fitting is your hydrapack. Finding a pack that fits properly (no chafing), is not too heavy, gives you easy access to all your fueling and gear, the right size for your race will make it much easier and fun to run a long-distance. You need to test your pack for a few long runs to make sure you find the right one. Socks: Another important gear to look after our feet and toes are socks. Finding the right fabric and brand for our specific feet and shoes will save you from suffering from blisters and save your toenails. Shorts:Another important gear are shorts, if you run long-distance, you need to find the right fitting shorts, with great fabric quality. Even if you apply anti-chafing gel or cream, if your shorts don’t fit you right, you will get intense chafing. You need to train all these gears to save your race.
5. Mental Training
Your brain is the strongest muscle in your body, and you need to train it as well. For runners, spending time visualizing yourself being strong can convince your brain that you can do anything. When running long-distance races, for most runners, after reaching 50K, your brain has to take over to keep you going feeling strong and motivated. When you train, take time to remind yourself how strong you are, how you can climb and climb without stopping, and visualise yourself crossing the finish line. Also make sure you train your brain to break down the course section by section, so you will always find some power to make it to the next checkpoint.
6. Take a Recovery Break
Part of your training is making sure you include some weekly recovery day. After long-distance runs, you always need to take some days off, even if you feel fine. Taking some days off after a long race will not affect your fitness level, but will help your body, brain, muscles heal and recover. A long-distance race is a big stress not only on the body, but on the brain as well. After a long race, you can take one week off running, you can add some stretching sessions, yoga, or some mild core exercises after a few days. Always listen to your body and your heart!
Train Well, Eat Well, Feel Great!