Learning to run the rough trails under the unpredictable weather can be overwhelming for a trail running beginner. It was for this reason that some of the country’s top trail running athletes organized the Merrell Trail Running Camp, a hands-on introductory class that teaches everything there is to know about this fast growing sports.
(Video Credit: Race Yaya)
I was lucky to be invited as a participant to the trail running programs second camp last May 6-7 at Basekamp, Pintong Bukawe, San Mateo, Rizal. The event location is close to the tip of the Sierra Mountain range and is considered as the training grounds for trail running elites.
What You Missed During the Pilipinas Trail Running Camp
Organized by Race Yaya, the camp has gathered some of the well-known personalities in trail running. Thumbie Remigio of UP Mountainers served as camp director. Meanwhile, trail running local champions Manolito Divina and Sandi Menchu shared their expertise as the camp’s coaches.
The two-day camp comprised of lectures focused on trail race preparation, first aid and handling emergency situations, injury prevention, and proper nutrition. The first day was capped off with an afternoon Yoga session focused on stretching essential running muscles.
On the second day, the participants went on for a 10-kilometer trail run where they were taught of different techniques to push through most uphill and downhill terrains.
Here are the five things I learned from the Pilipinas Trail Running Camp 2, which can help you improve your performance on race day.
1. Plan Your Race, Know the Gritty Details
In their talk about weather management, lecturers Alex Yap and Simon Sandoval emphasize that every runner should research the race’s elevation profile and have an idea of what kind of weather they will face on race day. The two trail running veteran also advised that runners should have all the necessary trail running equipment prescribed by the race organizer plus an emergency kit and safety blanket.
(Alex Yap’s lecture on Weather Management)
According to Sandoval and Yap, runners should always aim to be as comfortable as they can regarding clothing. Trail runners should also keep their body’s temperature in check so as to avoid hypothermia and heatstroke. Lastly, it’s OK to rest for a while during a race especially if it’s too hot or too cold for you to continue.
Here are the items they suggest should be in your aid kit: tissue paper, whistle, small pin (for popping blisters), antibiotics in the sachet, blister pad, antacid, spare salt caps and self-adhesive compression bandage.
2. Create a Nutrition Strategy
Nutrition is one of the cornerstones of good athletic performance. Lecturer Geri Chua, a Singaporean ultramarathoner who has been to the most grueling footraces, said people react differently to certain foods and sports nutrition products. The key, she said, is to know what works for you.
(Geri Chua’s lecture on Proper Nutrition)
According to her lecture, there are five sources where we get our energy used for movement. They are:
She emphasized that trail runners must continually replace lost fluids (such as water), electrolytes and carbohydrates which are lost during the intense activities such as running. Fat and proteins, on the other hand, are used up by our body as a last resort.
According to her, our body usually can only have a threshold of energy (i.e. 1,800 calories of muscle glycogen enough for just 32-kilometer run), and we constantly need to be topped up to catch up with the energy deficit that occurs during races.
3. Good Running Form Equals Fewer Injuries
According to lecturer Rheysonn Cornilla of Movement Performance Manila, the number one reason gets injured because they don’t know how to hold back. The main culprit behind common running injuries like Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS) and plantar fasciitis is improper running form.
To have better running technique, he suggested that runners incorporate the triple flexion, triple extension or the correct alignment of the legs and several joints during running. Part of good form, he said, is to have soft landing finish push off on the feet. To obtain this form, runners must also do cross training and perform several exercises such as forward lunges.
It’s also helpful that you have the proper running gear fit for the trail. During the camp, we were introduced to Merrell’s new line of trail running shoes- the Agility Peak Flex. I wore one during the camp, and I could say that its got top-notch stability and traction.
If you want to know more about this shoe go to this link -> Merrell Agility Peak Flex Review
4. First Aid Knowledge is a Necessity
In a trail race, anything could happen including injuring yourself or encountering an injured runner who needs immediate help. For this reason, trail runners need to have at least basic life saving first aid applications to help themselves or a fellow racer.
Team Rescue 8 gave us a live demo tutorial of some of the basics including resuscitation, first aid treatment and simple carries or lifts to rescue an injured person. We also got to try it ourselves as part of the learning process. It was fun to do, albeit I wouldn’t know if it would be that fun doing it in actual rescue situations.
(Team 8 Rescue’s Basic First Aid Class)
My main takeaway here is how to save a seemingly unconscious runner. Here are the steps:
- Upon seeing the unconscious person, observe the surrounding and assess the situation.
- Approach the person and see if he or she is conscious. Say “hi” or “hello.”
- If you think that the person needs help, ask permission first. Tell the person that you are going to perform first aid even if they are unconscious.
- Check if he or she has a pulse around her neck. Push hard on her shoulders to see if there is a reaction. If the pulse is weak or no response, perform first aid.
- Locate the heart, by tracing the armpit horizontally. Place one hand on the other right above the victim’s heart and push up to 2-inches deep for adults.
- Perform 100 compressions per minute (same beat as “Staying Alive” song).
- If victim also needs air. Do 30 compression and breath to his or her mouth twice. Do this five times.
5. Never Forget to Enjoy the Scenery
During the second day, we had a short 10K trail run around Pintong Bukawe (same route in Rizal Mountain Run). Thumbie Remigio explained on the way that a lot of the running part in trails is done downhill. As such, it is necessary to have a strong core for balance and proper running technique, so you won’t lose footing. As for uphills, it’s better to perform power hike as it conserves your energy.
Part of the beauty of trail running is you get to be closer to nature and be in a moment of self-reflection. As I marvel at the mountains of Rizal, I remember a saying that goes like this:
“Go fast enough to get there, but slow enough to see.”
The Merrell Pilipinas Trail Running Camp 3 will be on June 10 at the same venue. This time it will feature an individual race and is meant to be the culmination of the three-part trail camp series.
Check out the Agility Peak Flex at Merrell stores in Glorietta 3, TriNoma, SM North EDSA Annex, Market! Market!, Robinsons Place Manila, Festival Mall, SM Dasmarinas, Marquee Mall, Harbor Point, SM City Cebu, SM Iloilo, SM City Davao, SM Lanang, Abreeza Mall, Gaisano Mall Davao, LimKetKai Mall, Centrio Mall and select specialty stores and department stores nationwide.
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