Training tips by Jasmin Nunige
You want to prepare ideally for the Swissalpine Irontrail? Then check out the training tips from professional athlete Jasmin Nunige here!
Alternative Training program?
If you are not yet in the middle of your upcoming running season, you are most probably about to start preparing for it. The structure of the training usually starts with a basic endurance block followed by shorter and more intense intervals during spring time in order to prepare for the races. Nevertheless, I would like to introduce a completely different method to you which is mainly used for triathlon, cycling and increasingly also for running. The training is also known as "Périodisation inversée".
What does that mean?
Instead of starting with a basic long duration training in a very low intensity range, a training with a higher intensity and speed is maintained. Strength and speed are supported by shorter units. The second phase includes longer sessions while still keeping the intensity.
You first learn to walk faster on shorter distances in order to be able to increase the speed while running over longer distances.
This type of training is particularly suitable for athletes which have trained already for several years and therefore show a certain level. In addition to that this type of training is ideal in our region. Due to the cold winter weather it is much more pleasant to complete shorter but more intense units. Mentally you remain fresh and motivated to start the spring training and then increase the duration as well as the extent of the training sessions.
2-3 times 8min, 20 "fast, 20" easy, break sessions: 3min easy footing
This training is suitable in the area as well as uphill.
4-6 times 3min speed running, active break: 1min30
3-4 times 6min speed running, active break: 2min30
Like this you can increase from week to week, either the load duration or the repetitions.
Injury. What now?
Due to an injury, the majority of you already had to adjust their training hence the preparation for the competition. The consequence is disappointment, frustration and feeling lost. You don’t know how to go on and feel misunderstood. I will give you promising tips in order to regain confidence while staying fit, even though running training isn’t possible at this moment.
In the first stage of injury, rest and regeneration is a must. Enough liquid, basic nutrition, alkaline baths and physical therapies such as massages, osteopathy, electrotherapy, etc... Personally, I am not a fan of painkillers since pain can be a good "assistant". Most of the time pain demonstrates the upper load limit. This limit of too little or too much load often leads to a problem. An ambitious runner wants to get back to his standard training schedule as fast as possible. To reach this goal, there are very efficient alternative training options. I recommend aqua jogging, combined with swim training, cross trainer as well as bike/home trainer. Following this alternative options, the pain barrier will guide you! You should start with shorter loads followed by a slow increase. If at the end of the training the pain is stronger, the session was too hard. As a consequence one should schedule a less intensive training for the upcoming session.
At the beginning of the injury, I only recommend little pressure. If there is no pain, you can start with a more intensive training. Suitable for this are interval training in water, on the bike or with the cross trainer. You will notice that similar to the normal training this option will push you and thus you can perfectly train the cardiovascular system.
Crosstrainer: Warm up for 15-20 minutes, after that 2 minutes fast, 1 minute recovery, duration 50min, 15min easy footing.
For your core stability do not forget to do regular exercises during the entire injury break!
When and how do I start my running training?
As soon as you are free of pain, you can start again with light running training however, with only little pressure. Depending on the duration of the injury break I recommend to start with 10min. only. Eventually, even start with 2min jogging, 1min tramping, 2 min jogging, 2min tramping, etc...
Do this every 2 days and once the pain is completely gone you may slowly increase the training load. Intensive units by foot should only follow after sufficient training and full recovery.
A further key injury aspect is the psychological part. In this case it may be worth to get help from a mental coach or to use techniques which support mental stress. Personally, I have made very good experience with NLP (neurolinguistic programming) as well as working with images/breath techniques. Defining positive thoughts and new goals are crucial.
Hill Running, a challenging task
Today’s topic is hill running.
Hill Running on short distances
Typical hill running is short and has an average duration between 30s and 3min per time.
With intense hill running, power, strength endurance, speed and particularly lactate tolerance will be trained.
Hill running can be integrated once a week, anywhere, during any time of the year, for instance on snow-covered roads or on trail routes. Keep in mind, that a good foot kick-off should always be possible.
- Stronger leg muscles
- Improvement of running technique
- An intense training unit without heavy joint load
8-10 repetitions on a light decline of 8-10%.
In the beginning the load duration should be no more than 45s, however can be increased from month to month. (Until a load of 3min is reached). The duration of the break lasts as long as you need to jog back easily to the start. (For example 60s load = 1min 30s to return to the start).
Warming up 30min/easy footing 15min.
Hill Running on long distances
Longer hill running fits more specifically to the needs of long-distance- and marathon runners as well as adventure and mountain athletes. Longer hill runs are primarily to train the strength endurance. Especially for mountain athletes those runs count as typical competition training, slightly under the individual anaerobic barrier.
3-6 repetitions on a light decline of 8-10%.
Load duration 6-15min.
The break should be used actively, run back to the start at a good pace.
A strong leg kick-off, stable hips and technically correct running are very important during the performance. What makes the difference is the technique and strength of the run rather than the general speed until you reach the top.
This type of training is even more pleasant with other athletes as well as in a group. Everyone starts together, each one continues in its own pace and returns to the start.
Now I wish everybody a lot of fun with their training and see you next time…
Short intensive sessions – the training for intensity and range
Sunny days as well as long weekends invite for training.
In the near future I recommend to integrate an intense session, whereby intensity and volume will be trained over a period of three days. This training is especially suitable for trail runners, who run competitions starting from 2h 30min and more. Those sessions last for several days, are ideal for a weekend and can be used to visit the routes of the main competition. It is recommended to choose a terrain similar to the one of your main goal. Further, it is important that you start such an intense training recovered and not later than 3 weeks before the main competition.
Training Example 1 – Version "Hard":
Interval in the mountain: warm up 30 min and 4 times 8 min mountain run (decline not too steep, around 6%)
Pause: jog back to the start
Easy footing: 15min-20min
Morning: 2h medium intensity long run on trails, technical session (run down fast, run up or eventually power walk with sticks, depending on what works better)....
Afternoon: 90min biking/cycling or 60min jogging and 40min core stability
3h to 3h 30min low intensity long run on trails
Training Example 2 – Version "Soft":
Interval on the mountain: 20min warm up and 4 times 6min mountain run
Break: jog back to the start
Easy footing: 15min
Morning: 1h 30min medium intensity long run on trails with, technical session (see above)
Afternoon: 90min biking/cycling or 60min jogging and 30min core stability
2h 30min to 2h 45min low intensity long run on trails
What should you consider when you choose your equipment?
Currently you will find a large selection of important as well as less important equipment accessories.
Most important for me are the shoes which should fit the runner but also the terrain. Make sure that the sole is appropriate for mountain terrain and that the size is correct. If the shoes are too tight, you risk too much pressure on the toes which leads to blue toenails, this can be very painful.
Next you need functional clothing, whereby a windbreaker is essential, since even in summer it can be easily a few degrees colder in the mountain area.
A matching headpiece (sunhat, buff ...) and eventually gloves are recommended.
Also sunglasses should not be missing in the equipment.
Do not forget the right socks. You can find special running socks which are cushioned in the necessary areas, but at the same time absorb the moisture so that the foot remains as dry as possible and blisters can be avoided.
As an additional tip: Treat your feet with Vasenline or a special foot cream prior to the run.
For the participants on the longer distances a well-fitting running
Backpack is almost a must. You will find a variety of suppliers and also different sizes. You can store your water bottles (Soft Flask) as well as your own food.
The carrying of sticks always leads to discussions. I only recommend sticks during the competition to those athletes who have used them regularly during training. During longer distances sticks can certainly be helpful, up- as well as downhill.
Now benefit from the beautiful days to find the right material for you and to test it during your training.
Have fun, see you.....
Why long runs?
Long runs are mainly used to train energy efficiency. The body learns to use fat reserves better and to make use of the carbohydrate stores later. This enables longer distances to be covered before physical fatigue sets in.
Additionally, the oxygen supply to the muscles improves, and the cardiovascular system is enhanced. Bones and tendons can also be optimally adapted to the strain of long competitions, and the energy supply to the working muscles is optimized.
Moreover, running efficiency is improved, which is certainly a great advantage.
What does “Long Run” mean?
There are various ways in which one can define a “Long Run”.
As a trail runner, one’s immediate thoughts resort to preparing by long stretches of running up- and downhill in the mountains. It’s a demanding task, depending on whether the route is classified as 2h30 or 5h00. Naturally, this is a very important part of the whole training procedure. Ideally, the terrain should be as similar as possible to that expected on the race itself.
An alternative would be to undertake the “Long Run” more intensively, e.g., 2 to 2,5 hours of slow- to medium-paced running, followed by a race pace of 20 minutes; then reduce your speed for 10 minutes. Mentally, this is quite a challenge as the body is subjected to changes from a mediocre pace, to one that taps into the final reserves of physical energy. Personally, I find this kind of training exhausting, although it does result in very positive benefits. Why not give it a try?
Try to nourish yourself adequately during the “Long Runs” with liquids, and possibly also gels or power bars. This kind of training can also be used to test the products that are included in the main competition (at the Swissalpine Irontrail: Sponser). Importantly, after a long run (no matter of what kind): ensure that you can rapidly recuperate! - drink enough and replenish your carbohydrates resources.
Allow yourself 3 to 4 days of recovery before you submit your body to a further intense session of training. Depending on your training schedule, such a “Long Run” is recommended every 10 to 14 days.
Have fun, see you soon.
Nutrition tips for training
Before the event:
Breakfast should be taken 2-3 hours before the competition. Personally, I prefer light bread with almond butter, jam and an avocado.
The important thing is to eat fatty substances, but not just quick sugar. With the latter, there is a risk that the blood sugar level rises too fast, which in turn can lead to hypoglycaemia. In combination with the increasing nervousness, this can cause problems at the starting phase.
During the event:
At this stage, regular fluid and food consumption is very important. One should take something from the beginning every 30-40 min (Not only when thirsty or hungry).
What you ingest is very individual.
A good idea is to take something with you, if the food, which the organisers offers does not suit your needs. Only take drinks and food that you have already tested in training.
I personally work with Winforce products (Carbobasic plus and Power Pro plus, 1: 1). In addition, I also use the gels of Winforce (Ultra Energy, also on a fat basis).
So that I do not have to take too many gels, a useful replacement every 60-90 min. comprises boiled potatoes with salt or a small piece of rice cake (homemade).
Depending on the ambient temperature, we recommend a regular intake of water, but ensure it is not too cold!!!
On occasion, you should also drink a bouillon. This gives the body the required salt.
After the event:
The faster the body is replenished with enough fluid and energy, the faster the recovery. Again, take what suits you. Salty or sweet, no matter what...
Should you still be unable to absorb food, a regeneration shake is recommended because the first 30-60 minutes after the race are the most important for regeneration!
Have fun, see you soon.