At this time of year we should all be looking to build and improve on our base endurance levels. Whether it’s in the pool, on the bike or in our run sessions, the focus should be on building strong foundations which can be built on in the pre-season training phases.
If you do most of your run training on the roads or on a treadmill this phase of training can be very difficult. In most cases, the biggest obstacle is the boredom! Unfortunately, if you are bored you are far more likely to push yourself harder than you should, or worse, give up completely.
To build base endurance you should be looking to do at least one long run each week. To keep things interesting, why not make that a trail run?
Trail running is a great way to safely build endurance whilst keeping yourself motivated. The rough and varied nature of the trails mean that they are less well suited to the later, more intense training phases as you run the risk of a serious pre season injury. During the endurance phase you can enjoy the trails by going for long, slow runs.
One of the major advantages of trail running is the muscle and ligament development that it promotes in your key joints. By running on rough ground, your legs will fortify their joints and stability. This will put you in a very strong position at the start of next season and help you avoid injury throughout the season.
Perhaps the best reason to build some trail running into your training schedule is that it gives you an excuse to get out into countryside and landscapes that you rarely have a chance to explore. Running through forest, along river banks and over hills is so much more appealing than running in a gym or on a track.
If you do choose to incorporate trail running into your triathlon preparation it’s important that you take the necessary preparations to avoid injury.
- Warm up properly – the trails will put a far greater train on your ligaments, muscles and tendons than running on the road. Before you start your trail run, do a 10-15 run on an even surface.
- Wear trail shoes – it’s not worth risking a slip whilst out training. An injury now could cost you months of valuable training. Trail running shoes offer far more grip and should be worn whenever you go off road.
- Don’t get lost – though it might seem obvious, it is very easy to get carried away when you are trail running. Make sure you always know where you are going and don’t go too far.
- Go long, not fast – the reason trail running is best done at this time of year is that you can afford to just go for a long, slow run. Rather than pushing yourself hard for an hour – and risk injury – run for 2 – 4 hours at a much slower pace. Just enjoy the running.