How easy is it to underestimate a course like the ODLO High Trail Vanoise?
“It’s not the distance trail runners need to be mindful of at an event like this, it’s the altitude. At the ODLO High Trail Vanoise race briefing, for example, the race director describes it as one of the most difficult runs in Europe, and people laugh. But it’s hard, and you have to be mentally ready for it.”
“It’s been 18 years that I’ve done trail events, and this is definitely one of the most difficult.”
How many kilometres per week should you train for longer distance trail events?
“Depending on the event and the distance, it’s important to log about 50 to 110 kilometres per week. You can break this down either by time or mileage and then train in blocks. But the aim is really to train endurance.”
“Sometimes I structure blocks of four consecutive days and let a little fatigue accumulate in the legs. This helps.”
Two or three months before a big event, what do you focus on?
“I’m not a professional, and I run for pleasure, not to podium, so I try to keep a good balance in my life. Leading up to an event, I’ll try and add in plenty of elevation during my runs, lots of fast hiking, and one 5–6-hour fast hike a week. Sometimes a couple of tempo efforts, too. But most important I like to focus on elevation.”
Is it more important to focus on long runs or just lots of time doing endurance training?
“I do a lot of sustained efforts, but not just running. Lots of time on the bike, lots of time on gravel and lots of time running – and then sometimes combining different sports to make it feel longer. In the mountains it’s very easy to get injured if all you’re doing is running, so I find it’s easiest mentally and physically to mix it up.”