The Trails for Change https://trailsforchange.com.au/ is a 100km Stage trail running challenge in Victoria requiring specific preparation. Competitors will require wise planning, preparation and prolonged focus to perform well.
Here are some tips I recently gave competitors in their final preparations for the upcoming event. Ultra and trail runners could take on bits and pieces of this advice for a wide variety of stage trail running events. See below.
Hopefully most entrants have been logging up plenty of mileage in their training up to this point, 6 weeks out from the event. The most important aspect for you in preparing for a stage race is being physically ready for the race.
It is best you practice running with the small back pack you will use during the event. Carry it at least every second run you complete between now and the event. It is important for you to train with your pack to get used to how it sits on your shoulders and to feel how the weight moves around your shoulders and torso when running.
Try to simulate the event terrain, distances and conditions during your training. Not many of you will have the luxury of reconnaissance runs over the GOW course. However, you can practice running on routes that have similar profiles to the event, building your individual runs up to similar distances by November 10 or so.
25km – 43km is covered per day in this three day 100km event- so you want to have run or walked at least one single effort of 35km in training. Even better, you will have done a two or three-day block averaging at least 15km a day by November 10. It is best to carry your pack on your long run/walk or in your three-day block.
The course involves: Mainly forest and ridge top trails; Limited wetland and farmland trails; A few beach sections; Shallow river crossings (ankle deep); lots of short and medium length climbs and descents with some up to 10% gradient ……… try to train on these in your own area if you can.
The feed stations on the trail will provide a range of energy supplies which will typically include; lollies, energy or muesli bars, fruit, electrolyte drinks, water, warm drinks if it is cold. It is wise to test out all the race nutrition that you will be provided with in the race, such as Tailwind products, to ensure that they taste good and are palatable over multiple days.
Nutrition is one of the biggest factors that can make or break a stage racer/walker. You really need to adapt your diet and test it out over a three-day training block. Even better if you have been in such an event previously and can learn from past experiences and know what works for you. For an event like Trails for Change you will probably need at least 1500kCal/day; of course every person’s nutritional needs will differ; some may need over 2000kCal/day. The diet that many follow in such an event is a combination of high quality sports products such as Tailwind nutrition during the race and for immediate recovery and “real” food at other times during the race, such as muesli bars, potatoes and fruit. If you don’t like the Tailwind recovery products straight after your stage, try some flavored milk. Plenty of carbohydrates in natural food forms such as breads, cereals, pasta and rice will need to be consumed both for breakfast and for dinner. In the evening, I also recommend eating cheese with olive oil as this combination is very high in calories and provided your body with some fat and protein before bed.
The most essential gear when running/walking for you are shoes and socks and your pack. I recommend New Balance trail shoes. You are best trying them out for at least 100km of running before the event. Some brilliant New Balance trail shoes include:
a) Fresh Foam Gobi Trails
b) Leadville v3s
c) 590v2 Trails
These New Balance shoes all have a reasonable amount of comfort and cushioning for a multi-day event the width helped me to be more stable in the mud, and New Balance socks, once worn in, are brilliant in helping to ward off nasty blisters. I recommend using Raidlight Raid Runner packs for carrying your gear. They are lightweight with a hydration bladder which you can fill up to 2.5L, have zip pockets and elasticated compression straps and gear carrier straps. If it is hot, which it could be in Victoria in late November, you may need a full 2.5 L in the bladder for constant hydration. If cooler, you probably won’t need to fill up the bladder.
Hopefully you have already been gradually building up your weekly mileage leading into the event. If not, try and make your weekly mileage over the next 4 weeks a little higher than the previous week. It is best not to increase mileage by over 10% per week during this period of training.
Be sure to taper in the final 2 weeks before the event. Cut your weekly mileage by 20-30% in the penultimate week, then do very little in the final week before the event. A well rounded training program that includes some speed work and hill training will help make your event more successful. I can write you a training program if you contact me, either for this event or any other events in the future.
Best of luck in your training and enjoy the event!