préparation trail

Trail: an adventure to fully prepare for!

Every day, more and more runners of all levels are being won over by trail running. But it is important to take certain precautions before setting out. This is true for both training and competition. Thierry Breuil, the team trail-running world champion in 2011, 3 times trail-running France champion, winner of the Templiers in 2009, winner of the Guerledan in 2013 and a Kalenji athlete, has some advice for covering ground in complete safety.


Establish your points of reference

Firstly, Thierry Breuil stresses something that seems like common sense: "When you do trail running, even at a relatively low level, your points of reference change. You aren't running 10 km in a loop around your house; you're covering a much longer distance compared with your starting point. " And reminds us: "The weather conditions can be very variable depending on the terrain. Particularly when you're training on hilly ground: at altitude, you should never forget how quickly the weather can deteriorate…"

Without wanting to scare us, Thierry adds: "For many runners who aren't used to running in the countryside, trail is about beautiful views and a friendly atmosphere. But you should never lose sight of ensuring you improve gradually before attempting to take part in prestigious competitions such as the Templiers or even the UTMB. There are many boxes to tick first. "


Slow and steady

The Kalenji product manager suggests one method: "You should sit down in front of a piece of paper and plan your progress by setting out deadlines. In the first year, it's best to stick to short trails, or even all-terrain runs. You should gradually get your body used to tolerating higher levels of training and being able to handle more intense exercise in competition. "

As for the distinction – which is often blurred – between all-terrain running and trail running, the French Athletics Federation (FFA) classifies them in terms of distance:
- All-terrain races: under 21 km
- Short trail races: 21 to 42 km
- Trail: 42 to 80 km
- Ultra Trail: over 80 km


Adapt your training to meet fixed objectives

Thierry Breuil says: "It's not necessarily easy for people in Brittany to train on hills or for Parisians to run in woodland. So you have to organise your training and dedicate certain weekends to a specific workout. The rest of the time, you should stick to your aims by finding some hilly routes near home or running on the treadmill with significant gradients. "

The ex-Champion of the Templier highlights the importance of blocks of exercise at the weekend. "It's wise to spread out the length of the upcoming trail run over two or three days. If you're preparing for a 20km competition where the aim is to finish in around 5 hours, you should spread this time out over the Saturday and Sunday. For example, 3 hours on Saturday and 2 hours on Sunday. Cross training is also a good way of increasing the intensity of your workout. For example, 1 hour 30 of running and 1 hour 30 of cycling or mountain biking on Saturday and 2 hours of running on Sunday. "

Make sure you do these long sessions at an endurance pace, without getting too out of breath. "The aim is to get your body used to an increasing number of hours of exercise. "

Thierry Breuil sums up with this piece of advice: "A session focusing on quality can take place in the middle of the week. You can up your heart rate as you wish during this session. Either by doing interval training on flat ground – such as a 10 x 400m or 6 x 3 mins with periods of recovery – or by training on hilly terrain. A traditional 30/30 session is excellent. The time spent running uphill can be lengthened depending on your level and the nature of the upcoming competition. "