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Trail training for a city boy

nw11
Joined: 13 Oct 2019
Posts: 2
Illinois, United States
Posted: Sun 13 Oct 2019 09:06 pm GMT   topTop
Doing my first 100 mile trail run next year. I started out as a runner but I've been pretty much strictly triathlon for most of the past 6-7 years. I did one 50 mile trail run last fall and came in... last. The biggest issue is discomfort with steep grades (I live in chicago) and uneven footing. I've never really found a good place around here to practice that kind of stuff. I'm not too concerned about my time (I actually took kind of a sick pride in getting last place) but if anyone can suggest good places in these parts or just off trail exercises to gain confidence with that kinda thing I'd very much appreciate it. I'm doing the Gaspesia 100 so any specific race advice would be helpful as well. Thanks!
backcountryrunner
Joined: 25 Aug 2006
Posts: 188
Utah, United States
Posted: Tue 15 Oct 2019 02:34 am GMT   topTop
Hey nw11, first, realize that very few people in the planet have done or could do 50 miles, no matter where they placed :) So, nice work there. And if you're enjoying it, that's what matters the most.

As for hill training: living in flatland does make it more challenging. You'll probably have to do more "inconvenient" things or things others might think are tedious BUT that will also make you mentally tougher.

Such as training on:
- stadium bleachers
- stairs at home (if you have any)
- stairs in office buildings (lengthy session and/or just taking the stairs anytime you can vs elevator)
- a treadmill with incline ability (Precor makes some; see if your local gym has one)
- calf raises
- squats and lunges, or stair step-up/step-down exercises

Anything you can do to get those climbing (and descending) muscles a workout will help immensely. If you get regular weekly or daily climbing in, however you can get it, I guarantee your time in trail ultras will improve, and you'll have more fun, too. The hillier the ultra race, the more hill/incline training is going to be helpful (within reason: listen to your body so you don't get injured).

As for uneven footing... well, you kind of have to just practice doing it. After awhile your brain/legs/feet automatically handles it without thinking. BUT - the good thing is that for a 100 there'll be a lot of walking. You'll be going slowly enough that uneven terrain shouldn't be a big deal (as opposed to trying to run on it, which takes more skill and balance).

Hope that helps.