• 5 Tips For Surviving Your First Trail Race

    Trail running is a world away from road running and although a challenge, it can be a lot of fun. We give you our top 5 tips for surviving your first trail race so that you can have the best time and get to the finish line in one piece!

    trail running tips advice

    1. Do hill training

    One of the main differences between road running and trail running is that trail races tend to have a lot more elevation gain which means lots of running up and down steep hills. Rather than plodding round a flat course on smooth tarmac, you will need to be able to navigate down steep, stony tracks and get yourself up tough ascents. Doing lots of hill training will really increase your chances of making it to the finish and will condition both your cardiovascular fitness and your muscle strength so that the hills don't completely incapacitate you.

    hill training running fitness trail running

    2. Don't skip leg day

    Trail running is much tougher on the legs than road running due to both the elevation but also the difficult terrain. Your legs will have to work much harder to keep you stable and you will need a lot of muscular strength to help you up the hills and to jump over tree roots and duck under low branches.

    Make sure you incorporate lots of strength and conditioning into your training so that not only your legs but also your back and core are strong enough to handle the strain. Do plenty of squats and deadlifts as these will target those areas but make sure you are doing endurance weight training which means light weights, high reps, instead of training for pure strength which is heavy weights and low reps. 

    strength and conditioning for runners

    3. Wear the right shoes

    Trail running can feature challenging terrain from long grass to loose gravel to deep mud. You will need proper trail shoes which have aggressive traction and grip so that you don't slip, fall and injure yourself.

    It's also worth checking for trail shoes which incorporate a rock plate to the bottom as this will protect your feet when you inevitably step on rocks and stones and will prevent injuries to your feet.

    Finally, a pair of shoes that are waterproof is a big bonus but not a necessity. Chances are you will have to run through mud and especially in winter you might even need to wade through water which will make you very cold so waterproof shoes will prevent cold, painful feet.

    trail running shoes

    4. Check the weather

    You are far more exposed to the elements when trail running and they will affect you more, so make sure you keep an eye on the forecast so that you can be prepared. Wear plenty of sun cream if it's going to be hot and take wet weather gear if it's going to rain. The last thing you want is a DNF because of being ill-prepared for the weather!

    trail running bad weather rain

    5. Have fun and don't expect a good finish time

    It's important to remember why we do trail running – to have fun! Those who run road races tend to compete purely for speed whereas trail running is more of a challenge for ourselves and to push our own limits. Most trail runs will be significantly more difficult than a traditional road race and it's highly unlikely that you'll achieve a distance PB. There may well be sections that are impossible to run and you will be forced to walk in order not to fall, or because a hill is just that steep. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and don't go into it expecting to achieve your best time ever or even trying to be overly competitive as you will only end up disappointed. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • How To Run Safely And Perform Well In Hot Weather

    running in hot weather

    As summer fast approaches and the weather warms up, it's time to start adjusting your training and racing tactics for the heat. Follow these top tips so that you can perform at your best in hot, humid weather and finish safely in good health.

    Don't drink only water

    This is possibly the most important point on this list. We all know that we need to drink plenty of water when it's hot, however an increasingly common mistake seems to be drinking only water and potentially over-hydrating. Didn't realise that over-hydrating was a thing? It can be potentially deadly. News broke last year of a woman who was left in a coma after over-hydrating at the London Marathon. The mistake this woman made was that she only drank water and caused her body to enter a state called hyponatraemia. This is when your body's sodium levels are dangerously low and in this context is caused by replenishing water but not electrolytes or salts.

    The best way to stay safe and healthy when running in the heat, especially if it is a long endurance event like a marathon, is to top up your sodium before you run and then keep it topped up by drinking a sports drink or taking electrolyte tablets. Team GB duathlete and Sundried ambassador Louise Douglass says, "practise in training with different brands until you find the best one that works for you." This is important as the race you do may not have the sports drinks or gels that you're used to, so sometimes it's best to take your own, especially if your race is in a foreign country.

    Of course, you need to keep a safe balance between water and salts, so try to work out how much of each you need before you start. You could do this by doing a sweat test, such as the one offered by sweat experts Precision Hydration, to see how much salt you personally lose when you sweat and go from there. 

    Sundried water bottle hydration running hot weather

    Adjust your hydration and nutrition from winter training

    If you live in the UK and have signed up for a spring or summer race, chances are you've done most of your training in very cold, windy, and miserable conditions. What this means is you will need to adjust your hydration and nutrition for the actual race and it may differ from your training as the amount of water your body required in December will be vastly different to what it requires in July and August. 

    Make sure you are flexible with your hydration and take extra water and sports drinks with you to the race just in case so that it doesn't come as a surprise on the day. Most, if not all, races will have water available so stay topped up but as highlighted above, don't be tempted to over-hydrate!

    water hydration race running

    Wear a hat or cap

    Wearing a hat or cap is a great idea whenever you're in the sun as it protects your head from the heat and can reduce the risk of developing heat and sun stroke. Not only this, wearing a white, fabric cap when you run can mean you can keep a wet sponge under it to keep your head cool and keep soaking it with water to keep your basal temperature down. 

    "I would recommend wearing a white hat for sure, I’ve found wearing it backwards with sunglasses on actually is best." says Team GB age group triathlete and Sundried ambassador Sam Mileham

    wet sponges running marathon

    Reduce your pace and listen to your body

    You may have been able to push your body hard during training throughout the winter, but race day might be a different story. Especially if you're not expecting a hot race or race day is unseasonably hot (something that can often happen during the big April marathons) you may need to reduce your pace. Even if this means missing out on a potential PB, it's far better to get to the finish line with a smile on your face than being carted off on a stretcher! 

    Team GB triathlete and Sundried ambassador Paul Suett says "listen to your body and slow your pace down if it’s feeling too hard. London Marathon last year was my toughest race to date, the heat was insane and took a lot out of my body.  Throughout the race I constantly listened to my body to make sure I was running sensibly."

    running hot humid weather

    Acclimatise

    Ironman athlete and Sundried ambassador Jon Dixon says "If you know in advance that the weather for a target race is going to be hot, then acclimatise by running in conditions similar in the lead up, preferably start at least 2 weeks out." Team GB age group triathlete Ali Trauttmansdorff adds to this by saying "I trained a few weeks before racing in Mexico by training in similarly hot and humid conditions in Florida to try and replicate the conditions as much as I could. I deliberately went out for my runs at 10am instead of early in the morning so that it wasn't cooler."

    It may be difficult mentally to take yourself out for a training run when conditions seem tough, but this is how to train smart and will certainly pay off on race day!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Where To Start With Half Marathon Training

    half marathon training

    So you've decided to sign up for your first half marathon – congratulations! It can be daunting trying to figure out where to start, so we've put together this handy quick guide so that you can get out there and be as ready as possible for the race.

    1. Get the gear

    Your first port of call should be investing in good quality fitness clothing so that you're not held back by what you're wearing. There's nothing worse than going on a long run and being hindered by running leggings that keep falling down and a running vest that keeps riding up and chafing. What's more, it's key to invest in running gear that is specifically designed for running and features sports technology such as sweat-wicking and multi-way stretch. 

    Your key pieces of gear should be a waterproof running jacket for running in changeable weather, reliable leggings that won't fall down, and a running top and shorts that wick sweat to keep you cool and comfortable.

    If you're looking for high quality affordable running clothing, use exclusive discount code HALFMARATHON for a huge 50% off Sundried. 

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    Once you're fully comfortable in your training outfit, you're ready to move on to step 2.

    running training gear clothing Sundried

    2. Find a training plan

    A lot of people will try to train for a big race by just 'winging' it or making up their own training plan. Unless you are a certified coach, this is not recommended! Without a structured plan, you are far more likely to skip sessions and not do as much training as needed, resulting in a poor performance on race day and less enjoyment of the race. 

    Make sure you do some research and find a great half marathon training plan that suits your ability level and the amount of time you're able to dedicate to training. We highly recommend checking out Hal Higdon's Half Marathon training plans as he has something for everyone and they are time tested to prove they work. Once you've decided on a training plan, you're ready to move on to step 3.

    Sundried running gear clothing

    3. Fit training around your daily routine

    There's no point finding an awesome training plan but realising you can't follow it because it doesn't line up with your work and home commitments. For first timers, it's advisable to try and run a minimum of three times a week when training for a half marathon, but four times a week would be optimum and this is what most training plans will call for.

    Take some time to figure out when is the best time for you to run. Is it before work, at lunchtime, after work, or at the weekend? You will also need to fit in some cross training sessions in order to bolster your training and improve your performance. Make the effort and make time for your training sessions but don't be unrealistic with your expectations. Getting up at 5am for a run before work sounds effective in theory, but is a different story when it's pitch black outside and you're tired!

    Once you've settled on a training plan and training routine, you're ready to move on to step 4. 

    Read more: Cross Training Workout For Runners

    running partner buddy friend training half marathon

    4. Develop a hydration and nutrition strategy

    If you have run a 5k or a 10k then chances are you were fine to just run and maybe grab some water from a hydration station on the course. However, the step up to half marathon distance will mean that many people will need a hydration and nutrition strategy in place so that you don't 'hit the wall' and run out of energy resulting in a possible DNF (did not finish).

    As with everything, you will need to find what works for you. Some people react well to energy gels while for some it upsets their stomach. In general, it's advisable to try and fuel with 'real food' such as protein balls or other small snacks as these are easier on the stomach and will give better energy boosts. Make sure you practise fuelling while running in your training so that there are no surprises (or gastric disasters!) on race day.

    With regards to hydration, figure out how much water you're going to need for the duration of the race. How are you going to carry the water? You can never rely fully on aid stations around the course as you don't know how frequent they'll be or if they'll have water left when you get there. Will you want a hydration bag or will you carry a water bottle in your hand? These are all things you need to decide for yourself and practise to find what works best for you. 

    Once you've nailed your nutrition and hydration, you're ready for the final step.

    Read more: 5 Ways To Maximise Your Post-Workout Recovery

    Sundried water bottle reusable

    5. Train for the course

    If you live in a very flat area but the race will include some hills, it's vital that you train for these. You can do this on a treadmill if there are no inclines for you to practise on outside. If the race is off-road or a trail race, make sure you get some practise on these types of terrains. 

    Additionally, be aware of the time of year of the race. Is it likely to be very hot or very cold? Train accordingly, especially as your hydration and nutrition strategy may need to be adjusted. 

    Read more: Tips For Running In Your First Organised Race

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • James Sackley Athlete Ambassador

    running mud run fun obstacle course racing

    James is an Obstacle Course Racer and enjoys getting muddy as much as he loves running. He talks to Sundried about ice baths, mud, and the challenges of this unique sport.

    Have you always been into sport?

    Yes, always. I was the kid at school on the running, tennis, rugby, badminton, golf, skiing, and cricket teams.

    What made you decide to enter the world of Obstacle Course Racing (OCR)?

    I have been trying to find 'my' sport and I've always thought army assault courses look cool. So, in 2015 I entered an Obstacle Course Race (OCR) and I was hooked! That race was just for fun, but these days I take them more seriously.

    What’s been your favourite race to date and why?

    That is really tough. I have three for differing reasons. The Nuts Challenge has to be included as it's the only race that breaks you apart piece by piece and I still come back for more every year. Any of the Nuclear Race series is amazing, well organised and challenging. Also Spartan has to included, as I love the spirit and those horrible carries!

    obstacle course racing

    And your proudest achievement?

    That has to be qualifying for the OCR World Championships by completing 4 laps of the Nuts Challenge, 30ish kilometres (18 miles). This was especially impressive as this was early March 2018 and the ice was 2 inches thick!

    Have you ever had any racing disasters / your toughest race yet?

    Yes, I had a big disaster 2 years ago at the Nuts Challenge. I wasn't fit enough, I didn't prepare my nutrition right, and I didn't have the right clothes. Due to all these mistakes I got hypothermia and got carted off the course. It was a hard lesson to learn, but not a mistake I've made again.

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    Setbacks are part of life and it's the only way we learn. When I have a bad race, bad training session, or anything else, I think about what I could have done differently, think about any improvements I can make and then move on. The moving on is the most important part.

    challenge mud run fun obstacle OCR

    What is the best bit of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?

    OCR isn't all about strength; a lot of it is about technique and having a cool head under pressure. Spending more time on the skills compared to lifting weights makes a huge difference.

    What are your goals for 2018?

    Compete at the OCR World Championships and retain my wristband by completing all the insanely difficult obstacles. If I can come in the top 50 in the world in my age group that will be a great bonus.

    Who do you take your inspiration from?

    Many people, but Jon Albon is right up there.

    running racing fun run

    What do you like about Sundried and what’s your favourite bit of our kit?

    Sundried is an awesome company and I love the ethical stance on clothing. My favourite piece of kit is my cool tech t-shirt. It barely feels like I'm wearing anything, I love it!

    Posted by Alexandra Parren
  • Grant Webb Athlete Ambassador

    grant webb running track

    Grant is a local boy who has been into running since he was little. He talks to Sundried about how he overcomes setbacks and how he takes inspiration from his coaches.

    Have you always been into sport?

    I have always been into sport from a very young age, where I played football from the age of 8. I started athletics when I was 14 years old and ended up juggling the athletics with playing football. By the age of 16 I had to make a decision whether I wanted to pursue a career in either football or athletics, so I decided to take the route of athletics and started to concentrate solely on running.

    What was your best race to date?

    My best race to date has to be back in 2014 in the Essex Championship 5000m. In previous years I had finished around 6th or 7th place, but this year was going very well for me and training and racing were all coming together. I remember the conditions on the day were awful, very strong winds and rain so the thought of times went out the window and it was a case of trying to go for the win. I managed to stay with the leaders throughout each lap of the track and with about 4 laps to go it came down to 3 of us. I felt good and was just thinking to myself, "just sit in and hang on for as long as you can". Coming round with 450m to go I hit the front and kicked for home to try and get rid of the opposition. I managed to make a gap of about 5-10 metres then managed to hold on and get the win which I was over the moon about. I crossed the line and the clock said 15:44 which was an eight second PB and something I did not expect in those conditions. 

    Have you ever had any racing disasters / your toughest race yet?

    My biggest racing disaster came in January 2016 in the Essex Cross Country Championships, I had the best winter season of my life and I finished 1st in the Essex League overall standings so going into the championships I had confidence that I could possibly get a medal, if not win. The race did not go to plan at all and I think I put too much pressure on myself and I ended up finishing 11th and was extremely angry with myself. 

    How do you overcome setbacks?

    I overcome set backs by thinking about the bigger picture. Sometimes a race doesn't go your way but there are plenty of races throughout the season, and I take a lot of advice from my coach who has been there and done it in the running world which is a good thing for me mentally. 

    What is the best bit of advice you wish someone had told you before you started competing?

    The best bit of advice I wish I got told before I started competing is to listen to your body. If you have a little niggle or injury then it doesn't hurt to take a few days off to recover; there are many times when I have ran through niggles which then leads to bigger injuries which keep you out for even longer. 

    What are your training goals now?

    My goal for 2017 is to get some very good training in leading up to this cross country season starting in October. I have had a bit of time out of the sport as I lost my motivation but I have now found my love for it again and looking to come back stronger than I was before. 

    Who do you take inspiration from?

    I take inspiration from my coaches. My coach Nick Wetheridge was an international runner in his time and competed in the world half marathon championships and has run some very good times. Also Eamonn Martin who coaches us as well; Eamonn was the last British male winner of the London Marathon with a time of 2:10. 

    Posted by Alexandra Parren