Tips for Returning to Trail Running & Racing
Written By: SportsShoes
Kicking off week seven of our #NoFunStandingStill AT HOME sessions, elite Kiwi runner Ruth Croft joins us to discuss running during and after lockdown and how to get back to race-day fitness as well as her top tips for optimum race day fuelling.
2019 World Trail silver medallist and winner of the 42K Mont Blanc marathon, Ruth joins us from her base in New Zealand where, just ahead of the UK, lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease. Here, she discusses her experiences and tips for runners under lockdown and advice for building fitness and prepping for future races as restrictions begin to lift.
Ruth’s top tips for runners under lockdown
Define your motivation for running
Without the imminent focus of a race to aim for, it’s all too easy to lose our motivation and love of running. Ruth suggests that the best thing you can do at this time is accept the situation. Forget racing for now and instead focus on what you get out of running right now. For example, you might want to switch things up to focus on shorter speed sessions if longer runs are becoming monotonous, or maybe you prefer being out on the trails to pounding the pavements. Do what it takes to keep your mojo and interest up in confinement.
Don’t burn yourself out
It’s important not to overdo the home work outs and running in lockdown. Ideally you should aim to come out of this period refreshed, fit and ready to go - not feeling mentally or physically fatigued.
Reset yourself mentally
Use this time to take care of your mental as well as your physical health. Ruth advises incorporating a clear structure into your day, avoiding constant on-screen time, taking cold showers to boost mental alertness and meditation to promote a calm and positive mindset.
It’s okay to look forwards
Start to make plans for the things you want to do when lockdown restrictions ease. Make a list of the adventures you want to go on, starting for example by finding some new local routes you want to check out when you can.
Tips as restrictions ease
Avoid doing too much too soon
With new found freedom to run for longer and roam new trails, comes the danger of doing too much and risking an overtraining injury. Ease yourself gradually back into your old routines and take time to build back up slowly.
Stay in your base phase
Realistically, it seems unlikely that any racing will be on the agenda before the Autumn. With that in mind, Ruth suggests spending a good 8-10 weeks working on your aerobic development. That means easy runs and endurance runs at your all-day pace alongside some steady-state runs at the higher end of your aerobic capacity. This helps build your base without putting too much pressure on the body. Within that you can add strides to improve running economy and leg turnover.
Ruth’s Tips for Race Day Nutrition
Fuelling is one aspect of racing we can tend to neglect, but it is particularly important for ultra-runners and longer distances in general. There’s no better time than now to get your fuelling strategy nailed down.
Ruth advises focusing on the following areas when developing your race-day strategy:
- Fluid Intake
For runs of over 3 hours, you should aim to take on at least 50g carbohydrates per hour. This can come from gels or solid food, but, if you opt for the latter, then choose options that are low in fibre, fat and protein that are easier for the digestive system to break down.
Generally you should be taking on 450-500ml per hour. If it’s particularly hot you may need to adjust to take on more.
There is some controversy over if sodium is needed or not. Find out what works for you here, bearing in mind to also factor in your fluid intake.
Ruth will often have a cup of coffee before the start of a race and then again in the second half of the race if she needs a pick-me-up. You can take up 200mg of caffeine before risking GI issues, with the peak effect taking place 45 minutes after ingestion. Take time to work out if this works for you. If you’re opting for a Coke or Red Bull, make sure it’s flat and not carbonated which is harder on the stomach.
SportsShoes.com’s #NoFunStandingStill AT HOME initiative features exclusive advice and workouts from our ambassadors and experts, helping runners and all fitness enthusiasts to stay motivated, fit and active – at home. Tune in via @sportsshoes Instagram for our latest livestreams covering everything you need to know from stretching and mobility to nutrition and motivating playlists.
Visit our Trail Hub for more trail running tips, inspiration and advice.