When it comes to running on the road, Olympic medalist Deena Kastor is an expert with U.S. records in the marathon and half marathon and a bronze medal from the 2004 Olympic marathon to prove it. Always on the lookout for new challenges, the speedster decided to add trail running to the mix. Living in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., she has plenty of options, but a recent trip to the Alps opened her eyes to a new world of running opportunities.
“The views are more spectacular than anything I’ve ever seen,” says Kastor who was in Chamonix to run ASICS Beat the Sun, a relay race passing through France, Switzerland and Italy as runners make their way around Mont Blanc. “Running in Chamonix was the first time I experienced really technical trail.
During the journey, and based upon her previous trail running experiences, Kastor has developed a list of survival tips for road runners who want to log more miles on the trail.
Equipment is critical
“At home I like to hit non-technical trails in cushioned road shoes. I learned the hard way that an appropriate tread is critical for navigating water, slippery rocks, snow and mud.”
“This goes for weather and conditions. Bring layers, food, water, gaiters, and poles—basically whatever is appropriate for the conditions and weather. I’m definitely going to start training with a hydration pack so I have water for longer runs, plus the ability to carry the gear I need.”
“Road running is a very linear movement. Trail running is more dynamic and requires lateral stability and leg mobility. You need to incorporate exercises to really strengthen hips and quads. And don’t forget your feet and ankles—they need stability and mobility work as well. Think lunges, jumping lunges and balance board work.”
Trust no one
“Okay, not really, but there were quite a few differing viewpoints when to came to time, distances and difficulty levels. I think the most eye-opening thing so far is how adventurous everyone is. Ultra and mountain runners don’t seem to taper, they have a ‘bring it on mentality,’ and a two-hour run on technical trails counts as an ‘easy run!’”
“Your splits are going to be higher than for the road. They will depend on the terrain—uphill versus downhill, technical versus smooth, sea level versus altitude, etc. Accept it and enjoy the views.”