The Trail Runner's Companion: A Step-by-Step Guide to Trail Running and Racing, from 5Ks to Ultras

The Trail Runner's Companion: A Step-by-Step Guide to Trail Running and Racing, from 5Ks to Ultras

by Sarah Lavender Smith


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The Trail Runner's Companion: A Step-by-Step Guide to Trail Running and Racing, from 5Ks to Ultras by Sarah Lavender Smith

The sport of trail running is booming as more runners seek more adventurous routes and a deeper connection with nature. Not only are runners taking to the trail, but a growing number are challenging themselves to go past the conventional 26.2-mile marathon point. The time is right for a book that covers everything a runner needs to safely and successfully run and race trails, from 5Ks to ultra distances.

Like a trusted coach, The Trail Runner’s Companion offers an inspiring, practical, and goal-oriented approach to trail running and racing. Whether readers are looking to up their distance or tackle new terrain, they’ll find sophisticated, yet clear advice that boosts performance and enhances well-being. Along the way, they’ll learn:
·Trail-specific techniques and must-have gear
·What to eat, drink, and think—before, during, and after any trail run
·How to develop mental tenacity and troubleshoot challenges on longer trail adventures
·Colorful commentary on the characters and culture that make the sport special

With an engaging, encouraging voice, including tips and anecdotes from well-known names in the sport, The Trail Runner's Companion is the ultimate guide to achieving peak performance—and happiness— out on the trails.

"Sarah Lavender Smith has long been one of trail running’s finest and most insightful writers, and her first book, The Trail Runner’s Companion, ties everything together for all trail runners, from newbies to veterans and all abilities in between. She expertly and empathetically describes how one should train, eat, drink, and think while becoming a trail runner. But perhaps most importantly of all, she tells us what it means to be a trail runner—why this journey, in her words, 'all the way up to the summit and back down,' is worth the effort. If you already are a trail runner, The Trail Runner’s Companion will make you want to become a better trail runner. If you aren’t yet a trail runner, The Trail Runner’s Companion will make you want to become one.” - John Trent, longtime ultrarunner, race director, Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run board member, and award-winning sportswriter

"The Trail Runner's Companion is a must-have for all trail runners, both new and experienced. It brings a wealth of knowledge and entertaining stories to keep you engaged in the valuable content of the book. If only I had The Trail Runner's Companion to read before my first trail race, I could have avoided so many mistakes! I highly recommend it.” - Kaci Lickteig, 2016 UltraRunning Magazine UltraRunner of the Year and Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run champion

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781493027743
Publisher: Falcon Guides
Publication date: 06/01/2017
Pages: 296
Sales rank: 498,624
Product dimensions: 7.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Sarah Lavender Smith is a seasoned competitive trail runner, coach, and contributor to Trail Runner magazine. She also co-hosts and blogs on A mother of two teens, Sarah has finished more than 70 marathons and ultramarathons.

Table of Contents

Introduction: My Journey from Road to Trail 1

Train on Trails

Chapter 1 Become a Trail Runner 13

Goal: Adopt a trail runner's mindset: Why Bother Running on Trails? 15

Road or Trail? The Answer: Do Some of Both! 17

The First Step: Think and Act Like a Trail Runner 18

6 Ways to Adopt a Trail Runner's Mindset 18

What Are We Talking about When We Talk about "Trail Running"? 21

5 Ways to Find a New Trail Near You 22

The Single Best Piece of Trail Running Advice I Ever Got 22

How to Talk Like a Trail Runner 24

Chapter 2 Gear Up for the Trail: Goal: Get the trail-specific clothing and gear you need, but keep it simple 28

Shoes: Your Biggest Investment 31

A Brief History of Trail-Running Shoe Trends 31

5 Tips for Buying the Right Trail Shoe 33

Clothing: The Essentials 34

Some Less-Essential Add-Ons 37

Hydration Systems 39

Cheap Trail-Running Gear in Your Kitchen Cupboard or Closet 42

Other Devices and Tools 43

Your Independent Running Store: A Community Treasure 45

Chapter 3 Build Your Base: Goal: Run well and consistently adding more miles on trails 47

How to Build (or Rebuild) Your Trail-Running Base 49

How to Structure Your Base-Building Week 50

What Happens to Your Body as You Build Your Base? 51

Find Your Inner Tortoise During Base-Building 52

When and How to Run Hard and Fast During Base-Building 54

Running Form 101: Dos and Don'ts for Proper Running Mechanics 58

Cross Training During Base-Building 63

Real-Life Ways to Find More Time to Run 63

Chapter 4 Conquer Hills and Navigate Gnarly Terrain: Goal: Get up, down, and through whatever the trail presents 67

Mentally Prepare and Adjust for All Types of Trail 68

6 Ways to Psych Yourself Up and Stay Positive on Steep and Rough Terrain 71

Uphill Technique 72

Can't Decide Whether to Run or Hike? Try the Hat Brim Trick 73

Downhill Technique 77

Workouts for Hill Practice 79

Getting Technical: How to Handle Sloppy, Rough Terrain 80

When the Going Gets Too Rough: Knowing When to Turn Back 83

Chapter 5 Conditioning for the Time-Crunched Trail Runner: Goal: Develop an efficient routine of supplemental exercises to run better and prevent injury 87

Dynamic Stretching 87

Core and Arm Conditioning 91

The Gift of "Birthday Push-ups" 95

Lower-Body Conditioning 96

Don't Let These Injuries Ruin Your Trail Running 101

Conditioning for Cool Down 102

Some Is Better than None 107

Be Safe and Healthy on Trails

Chapter 6 Stay Safe and Minimize Risks on the Trail: Goal: Know where you're going and how to handle potential threats 109

Don't Get Lost, but Leave Clues Just in Case 112

Be Aware: Listen as Well as Look 114

How to Handle Animal Encounters 116

Cell Phones on Trail Runs: A Blessing and a Curse 118

Prepare for Severe Weather 119

What If You Get Hurt on Your Trail Run? 123

Tools to Stay Safe: My Gear Lists for Trail Runs 124

Chapter 7 Refuel and Rehydrate for Optimal Trail Running: Goal: Learn the best ways to eat and drink before, during, and after trail runs 127

Mangia! Mangia! 128

How to Eat Healthy Every Day without Deprivation 131

8 Principles for Healthy, Balance Eating 133

What to Eat for Shorter Training Runs 135

What to Eat for Longer Trail Runs 137

How Many Calories Do You Need on Your Trail Runs? 139

Hydration and Electrolytes: A Delicate Balance 140

What to Eat Right After Your Run 142

2 Serious Hydration Mistakes to Avoid 143

What about Sports Drinks? 144

Check Your Blood and Get Enough Iron 145

Chapter 8 6 Common Trail-Running Troubles to Avoid: Goal: Learn how to prevent and troubleshoot typical problems on the trail 146

Blisters 148

Chafing 152

Cramping 153

Diarrhea 156

Upset Stomach and Vomiting 157

Gear Malfunctions 159

How to Pee, Poop, and Deal with Your Period on the Trail 160

Race on Trails

Chapter 9 Choose Your Races and Plan Your Season: Goal: Find and plan for one or more races that inspire and challenge you 164

Why Race on Trails? 165

What Makes Trail Races Special 166

How to Choose Your Trail Races 167

Shorter Distances: 5K to 10 miles 168

Where to Find, Research, and Register for Races 168

Medium Distances: Half-Marathon to Marathon 169

Vertical Ks and Skyrunning: Brutally Steep and Extra Slow 170

Ultra Distances: The 50K and Beyond 172

Putting It All Together to Plan a Training Season 173

Chapter 10 Train Specifically for Your Race: Goal: Develop a training cycle to build and sharpen for a goal race 176

It's about the Journey: Be Process-Oriented 177

The 4-Step Process to Train for Trail Races 179

Beware of Others' Training Plans 180

Enhance Your Fitness and Increase Your Volume 180

"What Should My Total Weekly Mileage Be?" 184

Prepare Specifically for the Conditions of Your Race 187

How to Prepare at Sea Level for a High-Altitude Race 194

Chapter 11 Put It All Together for Race Day: Goal: Plan and execute a race in a way that makes you proud and fulfilled 196

6 Steps to Taper Right 197

Seta Range of Race-Day Goals 199

The Taper Crazies and Pitfalls to Avoid 200

Plan Race-Day Refueling, Hydration, and Gear 202

Get to the Starting Line Stress-Free 204

Checklists for Race Day 205

How to Pace a Trail Race 207

All About Aid Stations 209

Race Etiquette 101: "Don't Be That Guy" 211

What to Do If You Go Off Course 213

Congratulations on Your Finish! Now What? 213

Become an Ultrarunner and Find Adventure on Trails

Chapter 12 Ultras: The Twenty-First Century's Marathon: Goal: Learn about the sport of ultrarunning and what it takes 216

The Lure of Going Longer 218

What It Takes to Be an Ultrarunner 220

6 Ways Ultras Are Different from Shorter Races 222

Learn by Volunteering, Crewing, and Pacing 225

12 Inspiring Ultrarunners to Know 227

Chapter 13 Go the Distance in Ultra Trail Races (50K to 100 Miles): Goal: Train wisely and develop strategies to finish the longest race of your dreams 235

How to Adapt Your Trail Training for Ultra Distances 237

A Sample 70-Mile Peak Week for Ultra Training 244

It's (Almost) All in Your Head 247

Know When to Tough It Out and When to Quit 253

Nighttime Running and the Sleep Monsters 254

Get Ready for Race Day: Drop Bags and Crews and Pacers, Oh My! 256

How to Make a Pace Band 259

10 Ways to Know You're an Ultrarunner 261

Chapter 14 Keep Your Trail Running Fresh and Fulfilling: Goal: Train smart and avoid burnout to run long for life 262

Avoid Burnout and Overtraining 264

Give Back to the Trails 271

Run Trails Long and Strong No Matter Your Age 271

Appendix: Recommended Resources and Further Reading 275

Endnotes 276

Index 281

Acknowledgments 286

About the Author 288

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