Choosing the right running shoes for the trails is essential. Wearing a road running shoe on wet trails means you risk injury. Trail shoes have a more aggressive tread, which gives more purchase on slippery or muddy surfaces.
2 Conditioning work
Lower limb strengthening, core work and stabilisation exercises are essential. Multi-terrain running will often throw you off balance, so it’s vital to have a strong core that will allow you to quickly adjust your centre of gravity and stabilise you.
3 Train on the trails
Do some training on off-road routes that are challenging but not too gruelling. The idea is that you gradually accustom your body to running off-road. If you do this twice a week (initially!) you will build your strength and mental confidence.
4 Run to feel
Tough surfaces and hard climbs make short distances feel longer. Running off-road will inevitably be slower because of the undulations and terrain, so ignore the pace on your GPS and learn to ‘run to feel’.
5 Be safe
When you’re training off-road, always let someone know where you are going. Take a mobile phone.
6 Be prepared
If you’re tackling unfamiliar countryside routes, plan your route and take a map. Bring drink and gels, even if you don’t think you’ll need them, as one wrong turn in the countryside could add to your time out.
7 Defeat the hills
Most trail races will be hilly or undulating so train on such terrain. Learning to work strongly and consistently uphill but then letting go on the downhill – leaning forwards and landing on the front half of the foot – is a good strategy.
8 The race
In the race, you won’t always have exact distance markers and your GPS may lose signal, so it may become a matter of racing those around you and listening to how your body feels. Understanding your effort levels will play a huge factor in correctly pacing your trail race.