Do you know how to get started in Trail running?
If you are interested in mountain running and would like to start running in the mountains, it is important that you do it right. Trail running is a discipline of high physical demand that requires proper preparation. Do you want to know how to get started in Trail Running?
Our athlete and trail running coach Enzo Ferrari advises before starting to run in the hills to have a complete medical evaluation and then get advice from someone who knows the area.
Step by step in the Trail
Enzo advises to start from less to more. A few kilometers a week at the beginning, 10 or 15 kilometers is fine. And always “have a future goal. Go step by step, it is not worth skipping stages”. In Trail running, as in any sport, there are no standard formulas and much depends on the context of each person. That is why it is important to be guided by a specialist in the area.
Even if you come from another sport, your body is not used to the stimuli of trail running. For example, you can be a very experienced cyclist and have a great physical condition, but your body is not trained for the impact of running. Or “an obese person, who dropped suddenly with bariatric surgery. His body is used to move 100 kgs not 70 kgs as it was left”.
Each person is a different reality, with its own challenges and reality. That is why the importance of a trainer and respecting the processes. “Do not be inspired by the figures of the international world. Be realistic and move forward step by step.
Where to start running
There are many factors involved in trail running. It’s not just about running.
So what to focus on first? Ferrari explains that the first changes in the body occur after 20 days. That’s why he recommends starting by working endurance for 2 to 3 weeks and then including strength work in parallel.
“If you only work endurance, you’re going to get aches and pains because you’re going to fatigue your muscles and joints. At first there’s going to be a drop in weight, and spaces that were full are going to become empty. We have to fill them up again, but with muscle through strength work”.
And how do we know that we can increase our mileage? Enzo tells us it’s very simple “when the distance you do comes easily. You feel comfortable and your heart rate doesn’t skyrocket. For example, if your test distance is 10 kilometers along the shore of the lake, and when you started you were taking an hour and a half and you realize that it takes you much less time without getting tired, it’s time to move on.
The nutrition and hydration are another very important facet in maintaining optimal and balanced levels of vitamins, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates.
Increase in kilometers and elevation gain
Trail running involves two variables: distance and elevation gain. The distance is how many kilometers we are going to run. The elevation gain is how many meters we are going to climb or descend. And both aspects must be trained.
But where to start? Increasing the elevation gain is less invasive on the uphill, but more invasive on the downhill, so it becomes the same as increasing the distance. According to Ferrari “you can increase as much as you want, but you have to prepare properly for that increase. If you have a clear north, we do a basic period and I start preparing you for where you want to go. For example, if you want to prepare for a Vertical Kilometer (a climb of 1000 meters in 5 or less kilometers), and we start by doing 200 meters of elevation gain, I prepare you by working on more strength, more capacities that will allow you to perform better in a climbing stage. But I don’t want you to work on mileage or speed on the flat.
The process of preparation and load increase is personal. That is why it is important to have professional advice from someone who is a specialist in the subject. It depends on many factors and a trainer is able to see them and guide you.
The increase depends on the person, their goal and also their abilities. “If you have an injury that prevents you from doing slope, maybe it is more advisable to work on the flat, and I will prepare you for that. And I will advise and motivate you to enter other types of competitions,” Ferrari points out.
How to get started in Trail Running: Equipment
You’ve started running. You’ve found your goal, you have a coach and you’ve decided you want to continue trail running. It’s time to equip yourself and start investing in the essentials. For Enzo “the most important thing for a trail runner is the feet. The first thing is to have good trail running shoes and the right technical socks”. Then make sure you have good quality, lightweight, breathable, quick-drying clothing.
Depending on the climate where you live, you should make sure you have equipment for the cold, technical clothing that keeps you warm but is light enough to move comfortably. A good windbreaker never hurts.
And when you already have at least one item of clothing covered, you can worry about accessories: belts, backpacks, poles, GPS watch, etc. All these gadgets will also depend on the distance you run. It is different what you need for one hour than for 10 hours running. Be well advised before you buy!
As you can see, mountain running is a whole world. The more you learn, the more you realize how much there is to learn. You should always respect the mountain and all distances, but dare to try. Start slowly, patiently and steadily. Before you know it, you will be enjoying the ups and downs on the mountain.