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Trail running

Trail running is all about running in the great outdoors. You don’t necessarily need to be high up in the mountains, but the views make it all the more worth it! With courses ranging from ultra distance training (for the likes of those aspiring to do to UTMB?!) to those who just want to enjoy running in some stunning scenery, we have a variety of courses to suit all. Most of our trail running courses are in the Chamonix Valley, home of UTMB, with excellent trails to explore along with some gnarly altitude and terrain to negotiate.

Always included in our holidays


Instruction or guiding

All meals

Friendly & social atmosphere

Running vest, HR monitor, poles

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The definition of trail running – running in nature

Trail running is simply defined as going for a run at the heart of nature. It's an extremely all-round non-stadia sport that, of course, works the legs, but also the upper body. Lastly, it requires concentration and attention.
You don't need to be high in the mountains to go trail running. You simply need to be in nature.

Trail running includes ascents and descents

Trail running is not only practiced in the mountains, but rugged terrain and climbs are part of the sport. Trail running also involves more than running.

During the ascents, you alternate walking and running. You sometimes use poles or push on your legs with your arms in the steeper sections.

During descents, you have to watch your footholds, landing on the forefoot to cushion the impact. You use your arms a lot for balance. Embrace the slope, run easy and have fun with the terrain!

What kit do you need?

UCPA provide backpacks, heart rate monitors and telescopic poles

What you need to bring; trail running trainers, water bottle (either hand held or a soft flask), comfortable/breathable running clothing, headtorch, hat, ultra light shell jacket for cooler weather

Do you have to run up hills?

You definitely can, but it is a known fact amongst trail runners that it is usually more efficient to walk up steep hills and conserve energy for picking up speed on the way down.

How fit do you need to be?

No previous experience is required and this will suit anyone who is new to trail running, but a good level of fitness is important. If you are fit enough to run 10 km on the road, then you should cope with a 10km trail run. You may find the hills and altitude a bit more challenging, but this is where our UCPA instructors come in to play to guide you to reach your goals.

What skills should I already have?

Good level of fitness. Completed your first trail running event. Good base level of ascending and descending techniques for speed and injury prevention. Powerwalk technique.

I want to buy my own shoes, but not sure what to get?

While you can wear your regular running shoes, we would highly recommend investing in trail-specific running shoes. Trail shoes have extra protection to the soles of your feet and toes along with extra traction.

What will I be able to do by the end of the week?

You will have learnt to be efficient with your feet placement, speed control and decision making. Aware of nutrition and hydration.

What skills should I already have?

Currently competing regularly in trail running events. Aware of your ideal form in terms of technique; posture, stride dynamics, arm swing

I am competing in a race, do you have any preparation/training courses?

We do indeed! There is the UCPA Trail Running Preparation course for Advanced and Expert runners in the stunning French Alps. Get insight in to nutrition prior to the race and of course during and learn key stretching exercises to do as much as you can to prevent injury whilst training. 

What will I be able to do by the end of the week?

Running uphill techniques, knowledge of how to cope with varying downhill terrain, route planning and navigation tips. Race preparation tips.

Can I use my road running shoes?

This is really important - trail shoes are completely different to normal running shoes. Some burly road shoes may be okay on easy trails, but it is not advisable due to the potential risk of injury whilst running.

How are trail running shoes different to road shoes?

The fundamental differences are that trail shoes provide more grip, stability and protection to your feet and ankles by being stiffer and having a deeper tread. Because of these features they tend to be slightly heavier than road shoes. 

Which ones are right for me?

This depends on so many factors and it is always advisable to get expert advice from a store or specialist as everyone is different! The main elements to consider are: what type of terrain you will be running on most, whether you need waterproofing or not, how far you will be running in them, your feet and your weight/running style. 

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