Saturday, December 5, 2009

Training Tips for the Bandera Trail Run

Now that the triathlon season is coming to a close and the Bandera Trail run draws near, it is definitely the time to ditch the road and hop on the trail. Luckily Joe Prusaitis, race director of the Bandera Trail run, had a second to give us some pointers for his race and trail running in general.

First and foremost, Joe advises runners to get on uneven surfaces by finding trails like the Greenbelt - dry creek beds and paths that will test stability. Athletes who run only on the road are able to use the same foot plant in every stride and never have a chance to use their lateral muscles. "You start finding all those muscles you never use," Joe notes, "I think of it like going skiing once a year, you just hurt like heck even though you think you're in great shape."

The Bandera Trail Run began with Joe's vision to design one of the most challenging courses in the area. "I went out there and laid out the longest possible race I could get without crossing a trail and without backtracking," he says. What resulted was a 31 mile loop that combines quad-busting climbs with enough flats to keep runners motivated. Joe recommends that all competitors come to Bandera at least once before the race to physically experience (run or hike) the course. "There really is a home court advantage," Joe notes, adding that runners can look at a topographic map and mistakenly think that the steepest hill is the hardest - which is not necessarily the case!

Running on the trail, especially in winter, sometimes requires artificial light and there is a good chance runners who are ready for the Bandera 100k will spend a portion of their race in the dark. Though many runners opt for lightweight headlamps, Joe warns against them because most shine straight down and offer little depth of vision. Hand lamps are larger and brighter. Also, though many think halogen bulbs are a better option because they're brighter, LED lights allow runners to see greater depth and they also require less battery power, which means runners don't have to carry heavy backup batteries in their packs.

Otherwise, distance trail races are "all about food and water" according to Joe, who always suggests front packs. "If it's not convenient, you're not going to mess with it." Stopping to shed your backpack and fish out your nutrition will interrupt the flow of your run much more than simply unzipping a small fanny pack. If you do carry a small pack, make sure have a good plan to replenish your nutrition at the aid stations along the course.

This is where great volunteers and supportive friends or family are a necessity. Joe suggests race support teams find out where aid stations are before the race online, take a chair and layer enough clothing for the cold weather at night. Those who come to support competitors "almost need to plan like that are running" says Joe, suggesting support teams bring more food and water than they assume they would need.

Though planning for this type of race can be complicated, don't forget to have fun and enjoy running in this special place that "just has a good feel to it," according to Joe. Good luck to all competitors!

For more information about the Bandera Trail Run, click here.


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