Salomon's Trail Training Plan

This past year we’ve seen a huge explosion of people hitting the trails. The space, the quiet, the solitude have all been a draw during a time when we need to give each other a little room. Many new trail runners are coming over from a road running background and it’s awesome to see. Between road running and trail running there is a lot that is the same, and a lot that is different that has a distinct learning curve. In this post you’ll find a few tips on hitting the trails safely and as things open back up to races, a few tips on entering your first trail race. 


As you increase your distance and get further from civilization keep in mind that help is further away. Practicing trail running safely means taking a few extra precautions than you might think out on a long road run. Consider purchasing a good running vest or pack so that you can bring the 10 safety essentials along.


These include:

- An extra thermal layer of clothing
- A way to make a fire
- Extra food and water
- Navigation equipment such as a phone
- Map and compass
- A headlamp
- A small first aid kit


All of this can pretty easily fit in a small running pack. And always let someone know where you’re going before you head out.


Running trails means paying a bit more attention to what’s at your feet and coming at you. It only takes a moment of inattentiveness and you could end up in the dirt. The great thing about trail running is that it’s not always just about the fitness so stopping to take in a view and your surroundings is definitely encouraged. Immerse yourself in the nature that is around you and you’ll immediately see the benefit to trail running. 


One of the biggest mistakes that runners often make when moving over from road running is the feeling that they have to “run” everything, including hills. But, trail “running” often involves a lot of trail “hiking” too. In order to spread your effort out and keep your heart rate from going through the roof take the time to slow down through a technical section or going up a long or steep hill. It’s perfectly ok to hike an uphill when you’re out trail “running”.


The next aspect of trail running you’ll have to get used to as your distance increases is the ability to eat and run. Many trail runners are drawn to ultra running races as a way to challenge themselves and a key part of a successful ultra is the ability to keep fueling with calories in so your body can continue to operate at peak performance. It’s simple in theory but takes practice to master. The easiest “food” to digest and way to get calories in is through gels or powders made of straight sugar mixed with water. Each runner is different and will have individual needs and preferences when it comes to the type and quantity of calories needed. You’ll just need to experiment to find out what works for you. 


As far as training for a race goes, there isn’t a whole lot different from running a road race, except: you'll want to do some of your training on the terrain you’ll be racing on (if possible), and hills; add in some hills to your training plan.


The solitude of trail running can’t be overlooked as a way to de-stress, mentally recover, and experience the natural world. It’s also a fun environment to race in with great low key events, a stellar inclusive community, and a variety of events so large that there is an event for every level of athlete. Welcome to the club!

For more tips and tricks, watch Salomon’s series on How to Trail Run on YouTube.

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