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From the road to the Trail Running: the right approach

Road racing has certainly increased in recent years, both in feminine and male, but in the course of the years, many racing lovers are seeking new motivations, feelings, interests, changing goals about how to deal with them the race. For this reason, Trail Running is also under development, an eye-catching and accessible discipline, but it has traps due to the routes used. In this article we will see just how to walk from the road race, or how to integrate the road race with the Trail Running. We will see what are the substantial differences and how to take part in Trail manifestations without hurting yourself.


If you want to define the Trail Running, it is a Resistance race that is practiced in a natural environment and where there can be a regime and self-sufficiency and semiautonomy. The Trail Running is practiced on different types of terrain (mountain, sand, woods, desert) and under different environmental conditions (in summer and in winter). It is a discipline that allows to have a special and special contact with nature and with oneself, moving away from one's own habits and commonplace, and then escaping from the city and its routine, disconnecting the plug from the common world.

Features (Why does one choose Trail Running)?

The amateur approaching the Trail Running is definitely driven by the desire to explore new routes and new places, running in the wild without the stress of the stopwatch, performance itself, but enjoying everything a race in nature presents. The particularity of this discipline as we have seen is that of running on paths immersed in woods, countryside, more or less steep mountains, in close contact with nature, but like all activities taking place in nature, the Trail Running Has difficulty of varying degrees according to the distance and slope differences they present. At this time of the season with the beautiful days of Trail Running races on the national calendar are so many, and you can have fun as never before, descending distances and paths according to your physical condition. But it is crucial that some rules be followed to prepare for a Trail Running event and to take part in the race itself. In general we can state that in order to call a Trail Running race, we must have certain technical and organizational features:

  1. Routes: as it is obvious that the paths must be made in nature, so with the presence of uneven terrain, with trees, obstacles immersed in nature, such as stones, gay, earth, sand and more;
  2. Soil: The terrain and therefore the surface where you run a Trail Running race must have the ideal technical characteristics, as little asphalt if not zero, should be as varied as possible without excessive flooring. In short, it must reflect the true nature that comes before our eyes when we visit places of extraordinary beauty.
  3. Difficulty: As mentioned in the premise the main characteristic is that the paths must have slopes, so slopes more or less steep, from O to 1000-2000-3000mt and beyond
  4. Distance: The distance can range from 10km to 20km, 40km to Ultra Trail quite demanding and not to the reach of all those who are part of the amateur world.

Once we have analyzed the technical and organizational features, we have defined what the racing Running races are, we see how the athletic training changes to participate in a "off-road" race, compared to a classic racing race, what are the athletic, technical and Mental needs to be improved and developed.

Preparation (Athletics, Technique, Mental)

Surely as every race that is respected to get prepared to the best possible, you need a targeted and specific training plan for discipline and distance to travel, and customized to your conditional features. All this in the Trail Running races is not only for athletic training, but also for avoiding problems and risks to your health, just because as we have seen these races take place on paths not just inclined to our daily living and our lifestyle , So the "surprises" can be different.

Athletic Preparation, as regards the conditional aspect, it is necessary to improve the following capacities:


  • Aerobic Resistance General & Specification: So you have to run for a long time, run on paths that reflect as closely as possible the Trail Running features, as a road workout would definitely allow us to develop Aerobic Resistance but general, and not specific For that discipline we are preparing for. That's why, for obvious reasons, it is understood that the location as well, the area where you live is greatly influenced by the choice of this Trail Running discipline. A travel amateur who lives in the mountains will surely be easier and prepared for those who live and train on a seaside town and have few opportunities to run on rugged and varied routes.
  • Muscle Strength: As we have mentioned since the Trail Running races are organized on paths with significant altitudes, muscular strength makes it a master, so a good general muscle enhancement (gym with weights, bodybuilding exercises ) And specific character with uphill and downhill racing, will allow the development of those conditional features essential to achieving good performance and above all to avoid accidents due to excessive loads due to positive and negative slopes. It should be noted that not only muscle strengthening is required for the upper part, but seen and considered that sometimes there may be conditions of self-sufficiency, then it is advisable to perform strengthening even for the upper part of your body (arms, Shoulders, abdominal, lumbar, etc.).
  • Aerobic Power: Even though Trial Running races on short distances are not so many, however, the development and improvement of the Anaerobic Threshold (Reference Speed) is paramount. As far as we know, running faster allows us to improve the anaerobic threshold, so it also means running Aerobic Resistance Training at a faster pace, so less time on the legs, less injuries.
  • Flexibility and joint mobility: It is obvious that like all sports disciplines, even for Trail Running (and perhaps even more), it is necessary to develop good flexibility and articulation, when very varied paths, both slopes and as Surface, they do nothing but increase the level of difficulty of a race. So having a body that is flexible, having a good articulation (knee, ankle, hip, shoulders), allows you to better adapt to the variables that a Trail Running race can present. Therefore, it is best to include specific stretching exercises and joint mobility in your workout program.
  • Proprietativity: seen and considered that paths have slope changes, change of support due to the disconnected path, the presence of stones, earth, sand, we need to develop the ability of our body to adapt rapidly to change of support. All this can be done by inserting into your own specific seat training program with balancing exercises, improving support, and reactivity of the feet using tilting pedals specially designed to enhance this physical feature.

Technical Preparation: In this case we say it is also closely related to the qualities mentioned and developed for athletic training. It is obvious that the climbing and falling paths, support changes and slopes, running on these workout paths allow us to improve some of the support, push and reactivity of the feet, the ability to cushion impact on the slopes, the ability to Run uphill climbing, or get used to walking for long stretches where slopes are excessive, and running becomes impossible and costly.

Mental Preparation: Certainly for those who approach Trial races apart from the distance they need to develop a great mental strength to overcome the fatigue that sometimes becomes excessive, and the body needs to be helped by a careful and strong mind . For this reason, if you are not prepared to face fatigue and make rational decisions in a short time, it is not advisable to deal with these races, the pitfalls are many, especially if you talk about long distances. So it's better to train your mind if you want to tackle Trail Running races.

Clothing and accessories: If in the street racing you need some technical clothing and running shoes, certainly for the Trail Running even more. You will need to buy Trial Running shoes with tread and consistency completely different from running shoes, different clothing, when there may be weather conditions that change over the same race, so it is ideal to dress in layers and thus have clothing suitable. Then it will take a backpack, not too cumbersome, but that it can be functional and comfortable to carry on the shoulder, some water bottle and supplements, and torch-nightclubs and refreshing clothing to be spotted by other athletes.

As far as nutrition is concerned, it is not essential, but more. It is not conceivable for some Trail Running races not to race in the race, to integrate the right according to their own needs, so the goal of preparation is also to learn to feed and integrate. As usual, the tips are the same, that is to use products that are easy to assimilate and give short, medium, and long term energies. So carbohydrates, liquids and solids go well with the needs of the moment and the race. It is important to calculate race needs to be able to plan the right supply and integration.

So let's finish this first part of this article, hoping that many of you enthusiasts can find excitement and energies to dedicate themselves to this beautiful, fascinating and tiring discipline for the body and soul.

Good run!

(By runningzen by Prof. Ignazio Antonacci)

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