Journalist, Katy Dartford, reviews our weekend Trail Running Camp.
I’ve recently returned from a weekend trail running camp in the French Alps and had a truly awesome and inspiring time. I never realised there was so much technique involved in off road running, although I’ve always struggled steadying my down hills- almost as much as up hills…so what better place to learn than in Chamonix, with a glorious view of Mont Blanc to keep me motivated.
The trail running camp run by Tracks and Trails was also a chance of boosting my confidence in a couple of off-road runs I’d entered; the North Downs 30km at the end of June and the Lakelands Mountain Marathon in July. It was also an opportunity to get away from pounding the urban jungle that is south east London….. I sometimes feel a little nervous going too far off road as I seem not to have been blessed with an internal GPS – map reading was never my strong point… (on this note my partner in the Lakelands run is a seasoned Orienteerer and I’ll soon to be learning a few tricks of the trade with him – more on that soon!) I also get bored on long road runs and my ankle has never thanked me for cranking up my running mileage since I sprained it falling 5 meters of a very easy climb in Sicily about a year ago – so varying the terrain I’m running on will hopefully reduce the impact on it.
As well as actual running, the camp involved looking at all the different kit and equipment we might want for our runs and discussions on first aid, nutrition, training to go longer and learning about our heart rate training zones. All this from the very comfortable 4* Chalet Maverick, in Les Bossons, accompanied by healthy but delicious food rustled up by Polly, the in-house chef-nutritionist.
On the first day we had a run up a very steep hill to the Coupeau Cross for a session on running with poles, which are great for stabilising your ascent or descent. We then went to the gym for a stretch class and back to the chalet for a Jacuzzi, which really saved my legs for the next day and the long run from Vallorcine back to Chamonix.
After two and a half hours on our feet, ( running in my very nice and comfortable Striders Edge kit) covering a steady 16km on a variety of trails I was amazed how I’d completed it with relative ease and actually had a bit left in the tank for a core class and fitness test later at the Be Pure Fit gym in Les Houches. The fitness test proved enlightening- I didn’t realise I was actually younger than I actually am! Great! But no excuse to take my foot off the pedal I suppose – as my course instructor at Premier training keeps reminding me (oh yes, I’ve signed up to a level 2 REPS gym instructor qualification- I think inspired by this weekend) – use it or lose it. Anyway, now I’m home I’ve been thinking about catching a train out of town and running back – just trying to psyche myself up to head out to Shoreham in Kent and run home!
Oh, and if all this sounds a bit too strenuous, Tracks and Trails are also running Detox Weeks where you drink juices for the first 3 days and take part in light exercise, Nordic walking and stretching, which I think I might be needing very soon!