Short Trail Race
Who Are You? A Roadie Trying Trails Your Goal: Don’t Hurt Yourself
Train on trails.
Road runners who drop into a trail race tend to underestimate the difficulty of uneven terrain and big climbs and descents, says pro ultrarunner and coach Sage Canaday (sagerunning.com). To prepare for a short trail race, you must run on technical terrain at least once or twice per week, starting with shorter, easier runs and progressing to slightly longer ones. “Start slowly, stay relaxed, and kind of ‘dance’ with the terrain,” Canaday says. “The coordination between your feet and legs will get better over time – a lot of it is practice.”
Rehearse on similar hills.
Find your race’s elevation profile on the event website. Then determine the length of each major hill, as well as how much elevation gain or loss happens over that distance, and find a climb near you that mimics it. Roads probably won’t do: “Most roads that cars go on don’t really go over a 5 per cent uphill grade, while on a lot of trails, you’ll hit 10 or 15 per cent grade uphill or downhill,” Canaday says. Once you’re confident doing slow, easy trail runs, add three or four weeks of weekly repeats: after a warmup jog, start with 6 x 2.00 at a comfortably hard effort, then add an extra repeat or a little more time (30 to 60 seconds) each week. Jog down hills.