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					 Trail Running Tips for Triathletes
 Jennifer Purdie
The sun is shining. The weather is heating up. The thought of running on a
“dreadmill” sounds…dreadful. This is the time of year when athletes take to
the trails to mix up their workouts and enjoy Mother Nature.

We asked Dr. Victor Runco of the San Diego Running Institute to provide
tips to triathletes looking to add trail running to their workout repertoire.

Trail Running Shoes—Are they necessary?

It depends on the trail. Trails are specific—trails with lots of sharp rocks
may require a trail shoe with a forefoot rockplate like the Saucony
Peregrine. Soft dirt fire roads may not require trail shoes at all or a hybrid
shoe like the Mizuno Ascend will work well. Trails that are very wet and
muddy can be run better with trail shoes that have superior grip and sticky
rubber bottoms for better traction and grip. Trail shoes like the innov-8
talon work awesome for that.

Trail Running Complements Road Running

Trail running will make your legs stronger due to the fact that most trails (at
least in Calif.) require running hills. Many trails are in the mountains so
running at altitude can make you more efficient as well. Trail running also
causes a runner to modify their running form thus changing the impact
zones. This is different from road running and in a way is “cross-training”
from traditional road running.

Interval Training on Trails

You can do interval training on trails with flatter trails being better suited for
that purpose. If you are doing Xterra races, you need to train on the type of
surface you are going to race on. If you are going to do a hilly course at
altitude—interval training and hill work on hilly trails at altitude is a great
option, although your speed will suffer. Speed work should be looked at as
its own training tool and can be done in addition to hill and trail training.

Nutritional Needs Differ

If you are going to be running over one hour, it is important to bring
hydration. Trail running is more strenuous than road running and in the
southwestern U.S., trails can offer little cover from the sun. Couple that
with any altitude and dehydration can set in quickly. Hand bottle carriers
and backpacks are the favorites of most trail and ultra runners. Backpacks
by Ultimate Direction and Nathan are the most popular allowing the runner
to carry two liters of fluid for longer runs with many storage pockets for gels
and food. Hand bottles from Nathan and Amphipod are great for shorter
runs and carry up to 16-24 ounces with a storage pocket for keys and a gel
packet. The recommendations by the gel companies are actually pretty
accurate to replace blood sugar. You can try a gel every 30-45 minutes.

Strength Training for Trail Running

Strength training comes in many varieties and strength has many
definitions. Most triathletes want endurance strength not absolute strength
like a power lifter. There are many ways to achieve this like traditional
weight training, cross-fit, Pilates, yoga, etc. None of these replace running

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