If you’re looking for a great way to add an extra challenge to your run, consider hitting a mountainous trail. These routes are jam-packed with fun, natural hurdles — rocks, roots and, oh yeah, maybe an incline or two — making them an ideal level-up for runners who are bored of the same old track or trail. This is a whole new kind of runner’s high!
But with all those extra challenges, running in the mountains comes with a lengthy list of strategies and preparations to consider. At the end of the day, this hobby involves exercising in a potentially remote, wild environment. You need to follow the tenets of survival, starting with being prepared.
Follow these mountain running tips before you head out for your next alpine run to ensure a safe, enjoyable outing, hopefully with some spectacular views.
Top Mountain Running Training Tips
- Start with incline training. You don’t want to just dive right into extreme mountain running without prepping your body. For a few months before heading out on the trail, routinely practice incline training, such as hill sprints and stair runs, to help strengthen the right muscles in your legs and condition the body for rigorous aerobic exercise.
- Preserve your energy. Start out as slow as you can comfortably run in order to preserve your energy. The first leg of the journey will usually be the easiest and probably the flattest, so save your fast pacing for higher altitudes.
- Invest in rugged running shoes. As far as your running gear goes, you don’t need to invest a ton of money in special, new stuff. With that said, you may need to up your footwear game. Of course, a rugged running shoe is clutch to keeping you sure-footed and supported on a rocky trail. Consider a waterproof pair because you just never know. While you're at it, protect your phone from elevated drops with a durable armband that keeps your phone within reach for easy-access to route tracking, music, and emergency numbers.
- Dress in layers. You probably already know that extreme mountain terrains can vary drastically in temperature, requiring shorts and tees at the bottom and full-blown winter gear at the peak. Even smaller ranges can see serious temperature fluctuation, so make sure to pack a jacket that you can throw on as you ascend.
- Bring plenty of water and snacks. You always need to be well-hydrated and properly fueled before and during a run, but it’s especially important while mountain running because you’re expending more calories and may find yourself in a remote locale with minimal sustenance. Invest in a good hydro pack for the journey.
- Know your route before you go and plan for a turnaround point. If you’ve never hiked or jogged the trail before, make sure you know the exact elevation and prepare for it accordingly. This is one of the most crucial mountain trail running tips for avoiding fatigue.
Stop and Enjoy the View
Even if you don’t make it to the summit, we’re willing to bet you’ll be jogging past some pretty incredible views on your mountain runs. Make sure to stop where you can to enjoy all the hard work you’ve put in. Soak up the sights!