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> Mountain running – everything you should know before you start 

Mountain running – everything you should know before you start 

Publish date 28.07.2023

You can read it in 7 minut

Mountain running – everything you should know before you start 

Many runners often begin to tire of the same paths in the city or countryside. Therefore, they want to change something in their training. It can be run in the mountains. This is already a more extreme form of physical activity, but it certainly diversifies your workouts. 

However, you must keep in mind that for running in the mountains you need to prepare properly. Different ground, conditions, and altitude – will make your body react differently to your efforts. 

Fall in love with the mountains not only by going on a trip with your family. It’s a place where you definitely won’t be able to complain about boredom. Downhills, uphills, change of terrain – soil, rocks, leaves. Make sure you have the right equipment and prepare your body. Read on to learn how to start running in the mountains.

How to prepare for mountain running? – Step by step

Start by preparing your body

As I mentioned in the introduction – to run in the mountains you need to prepare yourself physically properly. Even if you have been running for a long time and have experience, you need to bear in mind that the conditions in the mountains are different. In fact, incomparable to the urban ones you are used to. 

You also need to keep in mind that your body will not prepare in one day. If you want to run in the mountains then you need to postpone it and prepare yourself first

“How to do it? How to prepare your body for such an effort?”

First of all, you need to add to your workouts appropriate exercises for muscular endurance and strength, as well as improve your fitness. Running on flat terrain is not as demanding as on mountainous terrain. On the route you have a lot of uphill runs, downhill runs, winding streets – this tires the body a lot. 

It’s also a good idea to change your traditional running route to one that has a lot of downhills and uphills. There is no such place in your area? Do not worry about it. Go to a treadmill and adjust the incline level. This will give you an uphill workout. 

You can also supplement your training with other physical activities such as cycling or swimming. You will increase your muscle endurance and improve your fitness. 

Remember! If you are a beginner runner, never choose the mountains as a place to train first. Give up on such terrain. First learn to run with good technique, build better fitness and strengthen your muscles. This may take a few months. It’s worth it!

The right gear for mountain running – what you need to bring with you

For running in the mountains, you need to prepare the right equipment. If you want to do your training safely and enjoy being outdoors. Here are some things that will be essential: 

  • the right shoes for mountain running – it all depends on the terrain you will be running on. On the market, you will find shoes for running on soft terrain, hard and sharp terrain. Therefore, beforehand, take a trip on your running route and see what the conditions are like. The most important thing is that the shoes should have a stiffened heel and be a little bigger. When running, especially running downhill, the foot goes forward. With a larger size, you will avoid chafing or black toes.
  • sportswear – the best clothes will be made of technical material. It will wick moisture away, won’t rub, and will keep you comfortable. Remember to dress in layers. Even if it is cold, remember to go for a run as if it is 10 degrees more outside than it is. This will help you avoid overheating.
  • additional storage place – when you go running in the mountains, prepare a belly bag, a small backpack, or a vest with pockets. Such gadgets will be very helpful and you have a place to store the things you took to the mountains, e.g. water bottle, energy bar, phone, and headphones. 

What else can you put in your backpack? 

  • Raincoat – the weather changes quickly. Even if you’ve checked the weather beforehand and haven’t seen rain, it can still change in a span of a few minutes. Pack a lightweight raincoat in your backpack to keep you from getting soaked to the bone. 
  • Flashlight – it will light the way. It will help you if in the worst case, you get lost on the route and have to wait for help. 
  • Map – electronic devices are not always working. Sometimes it happens that there is no reception, your phone has 0%battery, and you don’t know where to run. Therefore, take a map with you to always find your way back even without modern technology. 
  • Sunglasses – they will be useful in summer and winter. In summer they will protect you from the sun’s harsh rays. In the winter season, they will protect your eyes from the reflected rays from the snow. 
  • Band-aids – you will be able to stick them down on your heel or toe if your shoe starts to chafe your foot while running.

Take food with you 

Running in the mountains will not be short. And even if you don’t plan to run for a very long time, that’s for sure, you’ll hike different paths. 

Therefore, before going to the mountains and running, avoid hard-to-digest foods. What’s more, eat a balanced dish with complex sugars about 2-4 hours before running. This will ensure that you run comfortably. About 30 minutes before hitting the trail, you can still eat an energy bar or drink a banana shake. It will give you a boost of energy! 

If you know that your trip will last a long time, you should put snacks and food in your backpack. You won’t always find a place to rest and eat along the route. 

To recover your muscles faster and rebuild your energy, eat a full meal up to 2 hours after running.

If food then water too. The most important element in your backpack!

When you go running in the mountains it is essential to take a supply of water. It is better to take more than not enough. You never know if water from a mountain stream is drinkable. 

Remember to drink regularly. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Have a few sips of water every 15-20 minutes or so to stay hydrated. 

If you know your workout will be longer, stock up on isotonic drinks. They have the right electrolytes in them, such as potassium, calcium, sodium, or magnesium. They will help you hydrate better! 

Also, remember not to drink too much before your workout. If there is too much water in your body then your kidneys will have to work harder. In addition, excess water will “jump” in the stomach, which can lead to abdominal pain.

Plan your route before you start your trip to the mountains 

Choose a route that is suitable and suited to your skills. Your best bet is to look online for routes that other mountain runners recommend. Remember to always run on marked paths. If you deviate from the route, you may get lost or end up in dangerous areas. 

Therefore, before setting out to run in the mountains, research the route well. It’s best to go beforehand and walk a section of the mountain road you’ve chosen. That way you will know what awaits you. 

Also, remember to manage your time well in the mountains. In the mountains, your standard number of kilometers you are going to finish in a longer time. Uneven ground and substandard conditions make you run at a slower pace and more cautiously. 

Choose routes where there are forest lodges or other places that will allow you to hide when there is a sudden storm. Such shelter is a real salvation.

If you have friends who run in the mountains, it’s worth asking them about their favorite paths. How about going for your first training sessions with them? It’s a very good option!

Focus when running down 

Usually, when you think of mountains you already see all those uphill runs with your eyes. However, that’s not the only important thing. The rundown is also important. Inexperienced people may think that this is the perfect time to speed up. NO! Remember that you have to be careful while running.

When you run down fast, you may miss an obstacle, make a wrong stop, and boom…disaster guaranteed. Such a fast run is an easy way to get injured and fall. You need to concentrate when running downhill and be careful where you put your feet.

To run down more safely, bend your legs slightly at the knees and maintain proper balance. If you feel that you are speeding up then slow down your step and run down slowly.

Check the weather forecast before you go running in the mountains 

Variable weather in the mountains can be really dangerous. That’s why check the weather a few days before you plan to go. If you see that there might be a storm or heavy rain, then reschedule your trip. 

Also, check the weather on the day of the run before hitting the trail. Also, analyze the hourly weather. This will make you safer on the trail. 

Remember about your safety 

If you’re running in the mountains alone, tell your family or friends in advance what route you’ll be taking and approximately what time you plan to return. What’s more, write down the emergency number on your phone and add it to your speed dial. 

Also take with you: a charged phone (and power bank – just in case), painkillers, hydrogen peroxide, plasters, and NRC foil (emergency blanket).

I hope these tips will help you better prepare for running in the mountains. It is much more demanding than ordinary running in urban or even forest areas. Equip yourself with the right equipment, and above all, prepare and strengthen your body before hitting the trail.

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