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Monday, May 09, 2011

Trail Running 101 (actually 10)

Noticed that a lot of people are into trail running nowadays. Just barely 2 years ago, there were only 3 trail races – TNF 100, the Solomon Trail Run and the MR Ultra marathon. Last year there were 2 new additions both at MR. This year, the number have increased almost 100% with the new addition of the North East Run, the Tiong Bahru Trail Run, the Energerizer Night Trail, and the Tour De Trail.

Me too have kinda got sucked into the fad. Just this year alone, I have done 12 trail runs compared to 16 last years and there is still more than half a year to go. During the course of running and especially while co-leading the TNF Trail Run Series, I learnt some valuable lessons from my co-runners and from observing the other runners. First, the hardware:

  1. Always bring water when running in a trail. The only exception is MR where along the 11km loop, there is a toilet at the ranger station. Even than, for those who plan to venture beyond MR to say Rifle Range Road or just the Tree-Top trail, a bottle of water is useful especially in our hot weather. Another purpose of the water is to wash the wounds if there is bleeding after a fall (touch wood!)
  2. Bring enough water. I have run out of water more than once on my trail runs and I was carrying a 1.5l hydration bag. Do not underestimate the need for water. One can do without water for a 10km run on the road but in a trail, especially a technical trail; a 10km run can easily stretch to 1½ hours or more. And while most of our trails are located in the catchment area or reserve where there is plenty of water, trust me – you won’t want to drink from the stream or the reservoir. A hydration bag with a capacity of 1.5l should be sufficient – just make sure to top up if there is a water point midway.
  3. Carry identification. An id-band or a small card with names and emergency contact number; allergies; etc. Do I really need to spell out why?
  4. Carry your mobile phone. This is of utmost importance especially if you are running alone. You never know when you need to call for help or maybe ask for pizza delivery! But seriously, a phone is a necessity. Again, need I spell out for what purposes?
  5. And speaking of running alone, try never to run alone in a trail be it MR or anywhere else. You can fall and nobody will know where you are (which is where the phone comes in). And if you are a female, don’t even think of it. There are still pockets of our reserve where illegal immigrations hide out – I leave it to the imagination what can happen.
  6. Bring a mini first aid kit. What should be inside? Some water-proof non-stick (to the skin that is) plaster, a bottom of spray plaster, anti-septic wash, a twizzer, a small roll of bandage. Just in case!
  7. Bring some food. An energy bar, gels etc to keep hunger at bay and provide energy just in case that      interesting side trail ends up much longer than you expected.
  8. Bring a whistle and a torch. In an accident, blowing the whistle can direct rescuers to your whereabouts in a shorter time. A torch can help you if you run in the evening and you get carried away and ends up running in the dark.
  9. Dress sensibly. With all the above items already adding up the weight, you don’t want to be weight down too much by your attire as well. Choose light attire that will disperse the sweat. Not cotton shirt or shorts that will soak up the perspiration and weighs a ton after that. Wear socks unless you are running barefoot or in a VFF. Socks help to keep the foot dry and prevent blisters. Also protect the sole in case small sharp pebbles get into the shoes. Wear a cap to protect from bird shit. No lah from the sun - okay maybe some birdshit. And wear proper shoes.
  10. Speaking of sun, apply sunblock. Skin cancer is on the rise in the world and even in the trails where there is some form of shelters, it is better to be safe than sorry. Also help to keep the face looking younger without all the sun-kissed dry skin. And apply insect repellant. There are plenty of mozzies especially in the Bukit Timah area. Best is to get a all-in-one sunblock insect repellant.
Next up, the heart-ware 

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