It’s finally race week and with only 2 sleeps until the Surf Coast Trail Marathon, I’m sure a few of you are wondering what you have signed up for?! There are many reasons to get excited about trail running. Not only does it give you the opportunity to get outdoors and explore places outside your local streets, it also gives you the chance to meet some amazing (albeit crazy!) people!! While many runners are fearful of running trails because they are scared of falling on their face, trail running isn’t a difficult skill to master. Here are some of my top 5 tips for this weekend’s trail marathon and beyond.
- 1. Run to perceived effort – You might be used to punching out a sub 50min 10km on the pavement, but when it comes to running on trails, you need to leave your ego at home. It can be frustrating at times when you run slower due to the conditions but remember in general, your pace on trails vs pavement will differ by 30-90 sec per 1km depending on the terrain and elevation. So my best advice is, alter your speed depending on the portion of train you are running eg) don’t gas yourself running up hill for the sake of making up a few seconds – and always use your effort of perceived exertion as a marker and not your speed (turn off your pacer!!).
- 2. Take your own supplies – Most trail runs these days are cup free events and this means you need to take your own nutrition and hydration with you. It is always best to practice this in your training runs so you are used to carrying fuel, and taking it onboard when moving at pace. Don’t overload yourself – you might have heard people tell you to carry more than you think you want but be smart – take what you need for the run and a little extra- don’t over pack!!! Also take compact fuel sources such as gels or lollies as these will withstand weather conditions, and are easy to take in when moving.
- 3. Keep your eyes on the trails – Trail running can take you to some spectacular places with even more stunning views, this weekend will be no exception! But most trail injuries take place when people take their eyes off the ground and get distracted! Trails are unpredictable and there are often muddy patches, potholes or slippery shrubbery that can catch you off guard. Make it a habit to look four to five steps in front of you — this will allow you to have a better opportunity to pick the best ‘line’ and section of trail to run. Over time you will become for confident in your footing and need to do this less and less
- 4. Work with the trails (not against them!) – Trail running brings with it a whole new definition to the word “hill”. When you come up against steep uphill terrain, you need to adjust your movement. Adopt short, quick steps and use your arms to drive your body forwards. It is completely normal to want to walk up some of these hills and in many cases this will indeed conserve energy and even be faster than running. Think “light on your feet” and remember where your arms go the legs will follow.
- 5. Safety First – Regardless if you are a first time trail runner or a seasoned racer, always remember safety is our number one priority. Try not to use headphones during a race (Or leave at least one ear out so you can hear what’s going on around you), take extra layers as the weather at this time of year can be unpredictable, familiarise yourself with the course before you start (even better carry a map!) and take your phone with you incase of emergencies.
Now that the hard work is done and you are race fit and ready, it’s time to enjoy this spectacular event and embrace all that the Surfcoast has to offer. Remember to arrive early and plan your transport for Saturday in advance. All that is left to do now is hydrate, carb load and look after you body for 2 more days!! Good Luck and most of all enjoy your run :).