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Saturday August 17, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday August 17, 2013 MYT 7:28:03 AM
Beginners training for trail-running should gradually increase their distances at about 10% to 20% each month.
READY for your first trail race? Whether you’re a seasoned or novice runner, glean some tips from one of Asia’s top adventure sport athletes, Ryan Blair:
Whether it’s shoes, apparel or accessories, it’s crucial to test them pre-race to ensure comfort and reliability. Important criteria for choosing your gear: they should contribute to your speed and be adaptable to weather conditions.
Choose trail runners that are lightweight, stable and provide good traction. Waterproof Gore-Tex shoes are not a must unless you are running in snow.
“In hot and humid Southeast Asia, you want shoes that can drain water and dry up fast,” Blair explains. “Lightweight shoes should be between 250grams and 350grams per shoe.”
Blair recommends The North Face’s Hyper Track, M Single-Track Hayasa or Ultra Guide trail runners. Hyper Track and Hayasa work for paved roads as well whilst the Ultra Guide has incredible traction and performs great on rocky, technical and muddy trails.
When it comes to apparel, fabric choice is key. Opt for lightweight, comfortable, moisture-wicking material. Cotton is a big no-no. A hydrophilic fibre, cotton absorbs water and takes ages to dry. Extra fabric equals extra weight and friction. Go for seamless tops and bottoms to minimise chafing and maximise wicking.
A rain jacket is a worthy investment in our tropical climate. But stick to waterproof and breathable fabric like Gore Tex or Hyvent technology - a polyurethane (PU) coating that provides waterproof protection, moisture wicking and durability. A waterproof jacket should also have seams that are totally sealed.
“Get jackets with many pit zips or mesh for ventilation - super key in Southeast Asia’s humidity,” Blair adds.
“The North Face’s Flight series collection is ideal for Southeast Asia’s climate with lightweight fabric and superior moisture-wicking features.” (This athlete-tested performance collection features ultralight, multi-purpose apparel, equipment and footwear)
For short runs that average about two hours or less, a solo-bottle hydration belt (like the minimalist Enduro Belt 1) provides adequate liquid fuel on the trail.
Look for ergonomic designs, like bottles stuffed at an angle that makes for easy retrieval, and bungee cords to keep bottles in place. Again, light mesh fabric is essential for hot, humid weather.
For longer runs, a lightweight pack with a 2 litre-reservoir is essential. Soft mesh construction increases airflow and front stash pockets help to distribute weight and gives easy access to snack bars or gels while on the run.
A waterproof, lightweight headlamp is essential for night running. But for better visibility on technical trails, Blair recommends holding the lamp instead of strapping it on your head.
For training or races over 50km, trekking poles are a must-have as they take pressure off your knees/legs and allow you to engage your upper body more, Blair added.
Training and injury
For beginners, gradually increase your distances at about 10% to 20% each month. Use period training principles. For example, after three weeks of increased mileage, opt for less mileage for one week before building longer mileage the following month. “Don’t be afraid to go fast and suffer sometimes in training. This is a key element to getting faster and stronger,” says Blair. Rest days are as important as training days, he added. Rest one day or do a recovering run (an easy 20 to 30-minute run) a day after a hard day’s running.
For those who run more than three times a week or after long races, massages are highly recommended.
“Most importantly, always listen to your body, be flexible and adjust your training programme accordingly,” Blair cautions. “Enjoy your training by connecting to nature such as stopping to take in a beautiful mountain view or rest in a cooling waterfall.”
Pre-race, the night before
Eat a normal-size meal of complex carbohydrates, easy-to-digest proteins and healthy fats. Salmon pasta, for example, is a good choice. For single-day races, carbo-loading is not necessary as your body can’t process all the extra calories. Hydrate well and till your urine is clear.
On race day
Eat three hours before the race, if possible. If you eat closer to the start time, cut down the amount you eat. Keep food light and simple with mostly carbohydrate like oatmeal or cereal (with low-fat milk) and a banana. Drink water (around half a litre/hour) until around 30 minutes before the race starts.
During the race
Only use food and drink you have tested in training. Some gels and bars can be very sweet. Eat a gel or something (around 100 calories) every 45 to 60 minutes depending on experience, pace and if you are consuming sports drinks.
For shorter races, stick with water, sports drinks and gels. Aim to drink around 0.66 litre of water per hour. You can’t process much and over-hydrating can also lead to cramps and other issues.
Choose a sports drink with more electrolytes and not just sugary water. It’s crucial to aim for a full spectrum of minerals, not just sodium. But don’t overdo the sports drinks – too much electrolytes (including those from gels and other food) can cause stomach distress.
For a race that lasts over four hours, add a bit of protein - a protein bar or gel. Stick to something easy to digest. Heavier bars or food high in fat or too much protein will take energy to digest.
To maximise recovery and/or gain the most from your effort, eat 45 minutes or less after your race or training session. Ideally, eat a recovery snack or drink with a three-to-one or four-to-one carbohydrate to protein ratio. For example, low-fat chocolate milk, a smoothie with whey protein and bread with honey.
Stomping the trails
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