Ahead of the upcoming King of the Mountain trail, happening on September 4th, 2016, in Khao Pra Taew national park and organized by Thanyapura, we thought it would be good to share some key preparation elements from Kiranee Narabal, one of the Thai experienced trail runners, to take into account what will help you to get the most out of the experience on the D-day.
1. Prepare your body
This point cannot be emphasized enough; you need to get yourself some sort of training prior to a trail. Take it step by step and decompose your run for an optimum training; if your goal is to run an 8km. trail, start with 4km. per day, until it feels easy to run the whole distance in one go. Another important training aspect is to consider that a trail is not just like a flat running surface; you will climb hills, and the surface will not be as smooth as the treadmill, as you will run through rocks, mud, dirt and even water. Training to improve your balance as well as muscles building is essential before a trail. In a nutshell, what should be done is:
1.1 Practice Often
Because there’s no shortcut to the success. Just as the athletes from other sports, to be good in trail requires muscle building to get used to the run. Start gradually and increase the distance as you can. Running too much at the beginning can make your body lose muscles balance – the muscles that are used get much stronger than the muscles that are not used which will make a long-term injury.
1.2 Arm Yourself
Through a proper body building. Skills and technique in trail running are different from road running such as balancing, stepping, sliding, avoiding obstacles, hiking, climbing. The body parts that often get injured on the trail are the ankle joints and knees. Strengthen muscles in these specific spots is as important as the routine training
A simple tip that you can practice at home that makes the ankle strong enough to support the movements in running, standing and jumping is single-legged stance mixing with the single-legged deadlift. Kiranee’s personal recommended tip is also to run on the sandy beach as the soft sand makes a good resistance to training the ankle while helps to practice the breathing rhythm.
Apart from ankle, other muscles such as thighs’ muscles and core body are also important for the trail as thighs help supporting knees especially running up or down a steep path while the strong core body can protect risk of back pain and other injuries. The simple exercises recommended are squat and leg lunge (for thighs) and plank (for core body)
1.3 Stretching to Strengthen
Stretching helps improve and strengthen muscles along the body. Trail run requires flexible muscles so, stretching technique is pretty necessary. Other kinds of sports and practice that can be a great contribute to trail run such as yoga, stretching, swimming, muscle relieving as well as releasing lactic acid after training are what will make the run reaches its peak. All muscle movements are connected and all of them need a rehab after a hard training.
1.4 Run in Different Styles
The training technique that professional trail runners do is running uphill or upstairs. At the beginning, warm up for 10-20 minutes then run up the hill or stairs as fast as you can for at lest 60 seconds and walk down, repeat for 4-6 times followed by cool down session for 10 minutes.
Another type is stride which is a ground run with 80% of the highest speed for 30 seconds continuously then slowly walk or run back to the beginning, repeat for 6-8 times before cool down.
There’s no fixed technique in running. Runners can always adjust the technique as appropriate to their body. Also, training routinely can also make strong body and mind, make you more focus and increase confident in the real field.
1.5 Practice Mind, Set Your Focus
In trail, mind strength is as important as body strength as running in the unpredictable geographies which don’t allow you to get out of the trail when injured or needed can cause stress for many beginners. Practice yourself to run with the most relax mind, enjoy the natural surroundings and make your obstacles be an adventurous game.
Running on the road, your eye sight may be able to see 10 meters ahead but in trail, runners must focus only each of their step especially in case that you are left alone or lost, you need to get a grip, notice the foot prints, ground surface, bushes, and all surroundings while listening to what’s happening around to make a decision. People who like listening to music while training should try to get use to do it without earphones to avoid any accident.
2. Check the Detail of the trail
2.1 Information, Maps, and Signs
Before trail run, you should make a clear understanding about the sings, slope, dangerous zones, u-turn point, cut-off time of each trail (if there is) for your own benefit in planning, resting, eating (in long-distance trail),
speed estimating in each distance, time estimating to finish each distance and to finish the trail, etc. Trail run requires a sharp notice on signs and map reading skills. Losing the way can happen to everyone even the leading experienced runners. Being well planned and cautious can really help the run efficiently.
Trail run events are arranged in all seasons and weathers, domestically and internationally. Therefore, runners should check the weather forecast on the D-day and get prepared, especially the long distance trail. Also get in touch with the organisers to be updated about the possible natural disasters such as storm, mudflow, and flash flood.
3. Check What Is Provided
Mainly, you should know where are the service stations for water, food, medical team, and trail assistants. This will help you plan well about how to train to suit the trail service as well as what to bring along the way with you. For example, some trail provides service but the stations are very far away, you have to prepare your own drinking water, food, first aid kits, medicines, torch, etc.
4. Equipment Preparation
The information that you check about the route; geography, weather, and service are useful for this process. To prepare the belongings that suit with the trail you are going mainly the must-have items, including:
4.1 Emergency Contact
The most important item is not trail running shoes or water bag but the emergency contact numbers of each trail which all runners should always keep and record to prepare for any unexpected incidents which can happen to yourself or your running fellows.
4.2 Mobile phone with a power bank
These gears are for an emergency communication, especially where the staff cannot be reached easily. In many trails, cellphone with GPS and power bank are the mandatory request. Absolutely, you shouldn’t spend too much battery on pictures or video but emergency needs.
4.3 Zip lock plastic bag
It is important and very useful. It’s classic to see experienced runners put everything in the zip lock plastic bag no matter where they are, during the trail run or spending daily life, as the bag is water resistant, protective, light and portable
What cannot be missed is the medicine as your body condition or chronic disease needs. Make sure to put it in the safe place that is easy to reach. If you have a buddy, don’t forget to inform where your medicine is.
4.3 Drinking water, food and power jell
This depends on the service, distance, geography, and weather at each trail. Some trail takes very long and requires self-service. Food needs to be well prepared in separate meals and some litres of water must be in your backpack. If there are service spots but very far away from each other, you may need a water bag or bottles of water with some food or power gel. Food that is recommended for trail runners is what gives high energy, low fibre, portable, and stays long in any weather condition such as bread, sticky rice, sundried banana, date palm or some candies to add sugar and refresh your body
*King of the Mountain is a short distance (4-15 km.) with water service every 2.5 km. which is a lot while the trail is under shady forest, not hot and dry. There’s no need to take anything.
4.4 Trail Running Shoes
It depends on the geography and weather of each trail. Some trails are wild with a lot of rock, mud and steep slopes which require shoes that stick well to the ground surface as trail running shoes. However, normal running shoes can be applied in the trail that is not much wildly dangerous.
*For King of the Mountain trail, there’s no need for trail running shoes
4.5 Specific Equipment
such as water bag, trekking pole(s), head lamp which depends on the condition of the trail
Water bag: It will increase a lot more weight on you making you tired and slower. If you need to have it, train with the estimated weight to get used to it before competing. Actually, it is pretty useful as it is also a bag that you can keep other items inside while drinking water from it. Make sure you are well organised in packing it so it will be quick and easy for you to search for items.
Trekking Pole: Normally this gear is important in the trail that is steep or slippery and muddy to help to hold and balancing while climbing up and getting down hill. When training, try using the trekking pole to get used to it as well.
Head lamp: Depends on how long the trail takes. It is necessary before sunrise and after sunset. In the case of running in the dark, a reflective tape should be put on the shirt also. In some trail, the organiser requests that one runner must have two head lamps in case of one is broken.
* King of the Mountain trail has no need for all three
4.6 Cap, Arm Sleeves, and Sunglasses
Some trails are very hot and burn skin. The arm sleeves can help protecting this matter or some trails that are very dry and dusty, sunglasses can provide a better vision.
* King of the Mountain is shady and not hot so, all three are not important to prepare
Including mosquito spray, sun block spray, pain relief spray for injuries. In trail running, it is riskier to get injured than running on the road so, pain relief spray is one of the items that can be often seen in runner’s bag as well as the other two spray.
* King of the Mountain provides relief spray in every service stations
4.6 Jacket, raincoat, wiping cloth, socks, emergency blanket
Depends on the weather of each trail. Some trail, you have to cross a river making the feet wet which will later make you lose skin and get injured. The wiping cloth can help making the feet dry before continue running. Prepare spare socks and apply some bee wax. It can help protect the sole.
* King of the Mountain does not need these items