7 Quick Tips for Mountain Running!
I recently competed in the Australian Mountain Running Championships in Brisbane and the course was quite tough, especially towards the summit of the mountain because of the steep gradient and the rough terrain. There was one particular section where it almost felt impossible to run so the run turned into a tough walk which proved to be more efficient than wasting all my energy running. Every runner on the day which i spoke to after the race did exactly the same thing which was a relief! Mountain Running is something which you need to prepare for. It’s similar to training for a marathon- you can’t expect to run 42km without doing the distance or strength training needed to finish it. The following 7 quick tips are for any runners who want to give Mountain Running a go.
When you usually run on flat surfaces you can feel intimidated when you see inclines during your runs. Don’t let them scare you, once you’re on top you feel awesome. Plus: you will be rewarded with spectacular views. Follow these steps for proper mountain running to enjoy running up- and downhill in your next mountain race.
1. Run safe. Always carry a mobile phone with you or run with someone just in case you have a bad fall or end up passing out at the top of the mountain. This happens commonly with Mountain Running because people underestimate the altitude and power it takes to reach the top let alone coming back down.
2. Start out slow. Don’t push too hard at the beginning, because you will pay for it later. It’s the worst feeling when you go out too hard and you realise your half way up the mountain and already physically tired. It’s best to reserve yourself and work your way into it. Sometimes walking up a hill can be more beneficial then trying to run hard and wasting all your energy and not having any energy left for the end. Keep the pace steady up hill and fast down hill.
3. Maintain your effort level. This means you run a slower pace on the uphill, so you don’t waste energy and end up out of breath at the top. Try and work the downhill as well as you can allowing your legs to stride out and keep momentum.
4. Run with a short stride and quick cadence. This helps you maintaining proper running technique and dealing with the altitude. Its important to have your head slightly up and not lean too far forward and run with your arms extending back to get the most amount of power up hill. Downhill its all about activating the core and stabilisers and letting your legs do the talking.
5. Hydrate throughout the run. Staying hydrated is generally important for your health. On your mountain run, carry water and extra fuel such as gels with you if you’re out there for more than an hour. Most races should have drink stations but make sure you try and hydrate on electrolyte as it gives you the magnesium which will stop you from cramping on seizing up especially on the downhill.
6. Check the weather forecast. The weather conditions on top of a mountain are often different from the conditions at the base of the mountain. It can get windy, cold, and wet. So it can be handy to bring a wind- or waterproof jacket.
7. Enjoy the view when you reach the top! When you reach the top of any mountain no matter how big or small, the view is always spectacular! Once you reach the top you always feel a sense of achievement knowing you have conquered something which is challenging.
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Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top!