Emma is currently based in Leeds and works as a full time primary school PE coach in Bradford. She started running at the age of 12 and soon after started competing on the fells. She finished 3rd in the WMRA European Grand Prix Series and represented Team GB at the European and World Championships where she finished 10th in both races. Emma offers us her top trail running tips for beginners….
6 Trail Running Tips for Beginners
#1 Do it. You won’t regret it.
#2 If you aren’t sure about what trails are in your area, Google maps is an easy place to start. It highlights main trails in green.
#3 Look or ask around for interesting races and then set yourself a target.
#4 Invest in some suitable footwear for any runs or races you have in mind. Perhaps the running trainers you have aren’t suitable if you’ll be running/racing on hard trails. If they’re going to be softer, grassy, muddy or rocky you’ll need to look at getting a shoe with a more aggressive grip.
#5 Never be afraid to try new training routes. Some of my favourites runs have been when I’ve explored new areas or new routes.
#6 ENJOY. Take the time to breathe in fresh air and connect with nature.
6 Trail Running Tips for Race Day
#1 KIT: I like to get my race kit prepared the day before the race, so I know I have everything and therefore not worrying about missing anything. The new Salomon Sense Pro is a good shoe for new trail runners considering 5 – 10K runs or those making the transition from road to trail as Sense Pro is designed to offer similar cushioning to a road shoe.
For more advanced trail runners, I swear by Salomon’s SLAB 8 SG shoes and the Exo Calf Guards give added support to muscles on the ascents. Clothing wise, you can’t go wrong with tights and a tank in summer.
#2 FOOD: I will always eat the same thing the night before a race and also on the day of the race. It’s important to ensure you’re fuelled enough but not too full when it comes to running. Obviously, the time of the race will affect what and when I eat as I’d obviously need more food for an 8pm race, compared to a 10am race.
#3 MIND: It’s easier said than done but I like to try and not think about the race too much during the day and go about normal life. Worrying or stressing about it will waste nervous energy. If you’re new to trail running and races, try and relax and just enjoy the experience.
#4 PRE-RACE: Make sure you arrive early. There’s nothing worse than rushing around at the last minute. Always allow time to warm up and make sure you go to the toilet before you start!
#5 RACE: When you have a few races under your belt, start to set a rough target time for each race. This way you can pace yourself and not set off to quickly or alternatively, too slowly. Have certain checkpoints during the race to hit at certain times remembering it wouldn’t be possible to cover a hillier part of the course at the same pace as a flatter or even downhill section.
6 Trail Running Tips for Recovery
#1 Have a short slow jog following the race. Your body will need time to recover, so a slow jog to cool down will help your heart rate and breathing return towards resting levels gradually and also help to remove waste products from your muscles.
#2 Within 20-30 minutes have a light snack and start to re-hydrate.
#3 Within 2 hours have a normal size meal, ideally high in protein.
#4 Stretch before bedtime. This can be something to incorporate into your normal routine every night but especially post race.
#5 Try and have another short slow run the day after your race. Help those muscles recover.
#6 Think about what you did and did not like about the race before choosing the next one. Was it too long? Too short? Too hilly? Too flat? All things to take into consideration when picking your next trail race!
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Bex Band founded Love Her Wild. Alongside running the community, she is an author, blogger and speaker on all things adventure and conservation. For her work championing women in the outdoors, she has been nominated for multiple awards and was named one of the UK’s Top 30 inspirational entrepreneurs.