All you need to know to be mountain running ready this spring
Mountain running is an exciting and challenging sport that requires strength, endurance, and agility. Running in the mountains offers a unique experience with technical terrain, steep inclines, and stunning views. To become mountain running ready, there are several things you need to consider, from training to gear and nutrition.
One of the most unique aspects of mountain running is the technical terrain. Unlike running on a flat road or trail, mountain running often involves steep inclines, loose rocks, and uneven terrain. To be prepared for this type of running, you need to train your body to handle these challenges. This involves building up your strength, endurance, and agility.
Strength training for downhill running is crucial for preventing injuries and maintaining good form. Here are some tips for effective strength training for downhill running:
Incorporate Plyometric Exercises: Plyometric exercises are high-intensity exercises that engage your muscles to contract and relax quickly. They help to improve neuromuscular coordination, increase explosive power, and reduce injury risks during downhill running. Examples of plyometric exercises for downhill running include box jumps, hurdle hops, and jump squats.
Focus on Eccentric Training: Eccentric training involves performing exercises that emphasize the lengthening phase of a muscle contraction. This type of training is particularly important for downhill running because it targets the muscles that control deceleration and eccentric control. Examples of eccentric exercises for downhill running include eccentric calf raises, single-leg squats, and Bulgarian split squats.
Strengthen Your Core: Core strength is essential for maintaining good form and stability during downhill running. Exercises that target the core muscles, such as planks, Russian twists, and bicycle crunches, should be incorporated into your strength training routine.
Train on Similar Terrain: To prepare your muscles for the demands of downhill running, it's essential to train on similar terrain. Look for hilly trails or steep downhill sections and incorporate them into your training runs. This will help to build endurance and prepare your body for the specific demands of downhill running.
Be Consistent: Consistency is key when it comes to strength training for downhill running. Make sure to incorporate strength training exercises into your routine at least twice a week, and gradually increase the intensity and duration over time. Remember to allow for adequate recovery time between sessions to prevent injury and ensure optimal performance.
One of the best ways to train for mountain running is to incorporate hill repeats into your workouts. Find a steep hill and run up it repeatedly, with short breaks in between. This will help build up your leg muscles and improve your endurance for running uphill. Additionally, practice running downhill on technical terrain to improve your agility and balance.
Another important aspect of mountain running is nutrition. Because of the high intensity and long duration of mountain runs, you need to properly fuel your body. This means consuming carbohydrates before and during your run to maintain your energy levels. It is also important to stay hydrated, as the high altitude and dry air can lead to dehydration.
When it comes to gear, there are a few key items you will need for mountain running. Good trail running shoes with a solid grip are essential for tackling technical terrain. Additionally, a hydration pack or water bottle is necessary for staying hydrated during long runs. Other items such as sunglasses, sunscreen, and a hat can help protect you from the sun and elements.
For great gear reviews check out Get Out There's YouTube channel here.
Aside from the physical aspects of mountain running, there are also mental challenges to consider. Running in the mountains can be intimidating, especially when facing steep inclines or technical terrain. To overcome these challenges, it is important to develop a strong mental game.
Here are some tips for building mental toughness for mountain running:
Visualize Success: Visualization is a powerful tool for building mental toughness. Before a race or a training run, take some time to visualize yourself succeeding on the mountain. Visualize yourself running uphill with ease, descending with control, and crossing the finish line feeling strong and confident. This can help to build your confidence and mental fortitude.
Focus on the Present Moment: Mountain running requires a lot of focus and concentration. It's easy to get caught up in thoughts of the past or the future, but to perform your best, you need to stay focused on the present moment. Focus on your breath, your form, and the terrain ahead of you.
Embrace the Challenge: Mountain running is challenging, both physically and mentally. Rather than seeing it as a barrier, try to embrace the challenge as an opportunity for growth and self-improvement. This can help to shift your mindset from one of fear and doubt to one of excitement and determination.
Practice Positive Self-Talk: The way you talk to yourself can have a significant impact on your mental toughness. Practice positive self-talk, and avoid negative self-talk, which can undermine your confidence and motivation. Use positive affirmations, such as "I am strong and capable" or "I can do this," to build your confidence and keep you motivated.
Learn from Setbacks: No matter how well-prepared you are, setbacks can and will happen in mountain running. Rather than getting discouraged, use setbacks as an opportunity to learn and grow. Analyze what went wrong and what you can do differently next time to improve your performance.
If you're looking to get into mountain running, there are several races and events throughout the year that offer a great opportunity to test your skills. Many of these races are in stunning locations, such as the Canadian Rockies or the Swiss Alps.
One of the best locations to train for mountain running is in the Canadian Rockies. The Rockies offer a vast array of trails and terrain for runners of all levels. One of the most popular locations for mountain running is the town of Canmore, Alberta. Canmore is located just outside of Banff National Park and offers access to some of the most beautiful and challenging trails in the area.
While in Canmore, be sure to check out some of the local restaurants and breweries. The Iron Goat Pub & Grill is a great spot for a post-run meal, with a menu featuring local ingredients and craft beer. For a more upscale dining experience, try the Trough Dining Co., which offers a farm-to-table menu and a cozy atmosphere.
Becoming mountain running-ready requires physical and mental preparation, as well as the right gear and nutrition. By incorporating hill repeats, practicing on technical terrain, and fueling your body properly, you can prepare yourself for the unique challenges of mountain running. And when it comes time to celebrate your accomplishments, be sure to check out some of the local restaurants and breweries for a well-deserved meal and drink.