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Mud and Blood Blog

  • Trail Running Problems

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    There’s nothing like hitting the trail for an impromptu run. However, problems and injuries can still arise and there is no substitute for experience or common sense. The varying terrain means you need to be alert and aware of your surroundings.

    Technique

    Besides making you feel great, your leg muscles strengthen, your cardio levels improve along with increased elasticity of muscles, ligaments and tendons. Downhill running can be more demanding on the body. The most important factor is watching where you are placing your feet and to lean in to your descent (yet remaining upright as you don’t want to fall on your face.) Tight leg muscles or sore quads is usually the result of over-striding and a sore lower back comes from leaning too far forward.

    Ultra runner on the trails

    Injuries

    Injuries are a bore, but don’t ignore them… If your injury persists or is serious, seek medical advice. This can include the services of a physiotherapist, sports doctor or podiatrist. If you are in the hills you may be able to find a cold stream or river in which to immerse the injured part. Immersing tired legs at the end of a run in a cold lake or river can reduce swelling and inflammation in damaged tissues and speed recovery. Ensure you rest and take time out from the trail.

    Blisters

    Hands up who’s suffered! Just about everyone… Blisters are caused by friction on feet from wrong-sized shoes, hot conditions etc. Covering these tender points before a run is always a great idea, whether you use a Compeed blister plaster or similar it will reduce friction against the skin and prevent a blister forming or popping.

    Blisters on runners feet

    Chafing

    Yep! If you’ve hit that point then there’s usually nothing you can do about it. Whether it’s from thighs rubbing together or a badly fitting rucksack rubbing against your boney areas - prevention is key, use a lubricant to protect the skin.

    Black Toenails

    There’s no denying how gross they look - If the toenail is painful, it may be necessary to drain the fluid that has built up behind the nail. They are unsightly but usually take care of themselves until they are ready to fall off. They usually occur if shoes are too tight or from running downhill.

    Nutrition

    Running at high intensity for over an hour can start to drain your carbohydrate stores. Blood glucose is supplied by glycogen stores broken down from the liver and carbs consumed whilst running. Regularly eating small amounts during endurance events is vital to prevent ‘hitting the wall’ - it is important to start eating before you feel hungry. Everyone has their own favourite snack that they can digest while running - try jelly babies, flapjack, energy bars, dried fruit, cake, malt loaf or energy gels.

    Jelly babies make a great re-fuelling source

    Hydration

    It’s important to start a run hydrated. Water alone is less effective at rehydrating than an electrolyte-containing drink. Most energy drinks contain electrolytes to replace important salts lost in sweat and help reduce muscle cramps.

    Stay hydrated while running

    First Aid

    Everyone should carry their own personal medications for emergency use, such as inhalers if asthmatic. A basic first aid kit with sterile dressings or bandages and small roll of tape often comes in handy. The most important thing to remember is stay safe and enjoy your run!

  • Nutrition: What to eat before a trail run

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    We’re talking long-distance trail runs - without ongoing fuel to help the body replenish its glycogen - the energy it burns off while exercising - you’re destined to hit the dreaded runner’s “wall.” People have varied dietary needs, tastes and metabolisms. All those differences make it hard to tell someone exactly what they should be eating, but here are some handy tips.

    Find easy to digest foods

    Start with good old carbohydrates. Every trail runner has their favourite on-the-go snack from dried fruits, trail mix, pureed baby foods (seriously!), jerky, flapjack - a personal favourite is a toasted bagel topped with nut butter and banana; it delivers up around 85g of easily digested carbohydrates, and tastes awesome!

    Energy gels and chews work for most runners, given their high carbohydrate levels are ideal for absorption across the gut and deliver immediate energy.

    Refuel on the run with trail mix Refuel on the run with trail mix

    To fuel or not to fuel?

    For runs less than 90mins, you don’t need to worry about re-fuelling on the move. For longer trails and ultra-distance events you should aim for around 60-90g of carbs an hour for anything over three hours.

    Stick to what you know

    On the morning of your run, opt for something you’ve tried and tested for breakfast – controlling as many factors as you possibly can will stand you in good stead for the run ahead. The last thing you want is to be dashing of course to crouch behind a bush!

    What about hydration?

    When running you may become dehydrated – an electrolyte imbalance can cause muscle spasms, dizziness, fatigue and nausea. Don’t ignore these signs! Your body will lose salt through sweating or your blood sugar levels may dip. All this can be prevented with your mid-run hydration and nutrition. Use an electrolyte based drink rather than just ordinary water – this quickly replenishes fluid lost through sweating and gives you a boost of carbohydrates.

    Trail runner hydrating on a long run Trail runner hydrating on a long run

    And finally…

    You will start know what maximum distance you can go before that pre-run meal becomes important. One thing’s for sure - if it’s a big race or run, you probably shouldn’t be running on an empty stomach!

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