First trail marathon


I ran a couple of marathons in 4h10 and 3h45 and recently a half marathon but I want to move to trail running and have registered for a half marathon in December and a marathon in March 2012 from the Endurancelife coastal event series.

Has anyone got a good trail marathon running programme or could recommendine. I do not want to run more than four times a week and more than about 35/40 miles per week (I never did more and do not think it is necessary either).

I have marathon training programme but should I train differently for a trail event (apart from adding hills and trail long runs?)

Thank you!


  • The differences between a road marathon and a trail marathon are


    time taken (longer for trail)

    mud/conditions - need a different pair of shoes

    support/food/drink - may be more or less depending on the event

    mindset - less people around  - no mile markers or water stations every 5K.

    The main thing to focus on are to run slower and consequently be out longer and do a lot more stop/start due to the hills, stiles, boggy sections. The second thing is the terrain and how hills will affect you and the fact that you will be changing pace frequently.

    Less pressure - no need to be calculating splits at every mile

     Having done road marathons all you need to do is to some off-road miles and get the feel for it.

  • So would that be the Sussex CoastaL, over the South Downs then?

    I run over parts of that route a lot as it's more or less in my back garden - it's certainly my playground.

    I think you need to be prepared for the weather. It can be horrid. Parts of the route are very exposed. It can be quite windy and the wind when it comes from the east can be freezing. It can also be very foggy, on Monday I could barely see my hand in front of my face let alone a clear route ahead of me. I believe that the CTS organisors like you to have something to help wth navigation. The course is well marked but if you can't see the markers they are no good.

    I think weather is an element in all CTS marathons. It's far more of a challenge than a road or off road marathon. I believe that for these events you do need to take your own nutrition and hydration.

    I would do all your running off road. I would do a long hilly run once a fortnight. You need to give your body time to recover as it's harder than a long run on the road or over flatter terrain. If you can get out and run over some of the terrain of the event that will help. If it is the South Downs then knowing how to run on wet slippery chalk will help, as will running over flinty tracks and in deep mud.

    Your Long hilly run should be at least 100' ascent per mile pref more. You should try and include a range of hills - long and short, steep and gentle. Don't worry if you have to walk up some of them, you'll probably have to in the event. You will run a flatter longer run on the other week. - I trained for trail hafs on a two week training programme. Running downhill is often as hard as running uphill so don't ignore that either. I know some of the CTS routes are quite nasty.

    I run hill undulations - eg: 10 mins running x 3 or 7 mins running x 5- this over undulating terrain. Either in a straight line or a loop. (To guage if it's hilly enough you should be running about a mile in 10 mins.)

    I think for the CTS series you need to carry an amount of gear so get used to that - find out what you can use and how. For your own personal comfort.

    Get used to running looking where you are placing your feet, think ahead look ahead. Oh and if it is the Sussex coastal, don't forget to stop and look at some of the views, they are quite stunning. (When not shrouded in fog).

  • Wow, what a comprehensive reply I Mouse. Nice one.

    Obviously knowing  the area and the course helps but still plenty of other  good hints and tips. 

  • Wow indeed Mouse! Thank you so much. It is indeed the CTS Sussex marathon. All their events look fantastic and I am hopefully doing their Dorset half marathon on 3rd December.

    I have researched marathon programme but there aren't specific trail ones.
    I have bought som trail shoes, a very light and breathable jacket, a small running backpack and rehydration bladder and am now doing my long runs with them and am very pleased with them.

    I live in London near a hilly Heath and do all my outdoor runs (one long and one short) there and am practising running over wet surfaces and uneven ones.

    Thank you very much for all the local info and the hill training advice which I will follow. I am also going to come down at least once to run in the route.

    Thanks again!
  • Let me know if you want some one to run with you. You will enjoy the 7 sisters, really you will. image

    I run very hilly halfs at the moment. I found no specific advice or training programmes and when I asked herrer about training I drew a blank. I asked over at the American RW site and did get a few responses. That's where I got the 2 week training programme from. It is useful to do as it does take you longer to recvover from a long hilly run on uneven varieable surface over a long run that isn't so hilly and on a much more even surface.

    I think that you'll need to make it up as you go along - I would concentrate on endurance over speed and get the hill work in - if your not used to running a lot of hills then you'll notice muscle gain on your thighs - the more used to running up hills you get the easier it becomes.

    Oh, and if the sun shines it can be beatuiful.

  • DeanR7DeanR7 ✭✭✭

    i have run the CTS events before - 1 marathon, 5 halfs.

    i was reasonably good at the half (finished top 10) but the marathon nearly broke me!!

    best advice i can give is if you can run a road marathon in 4hrs you will probably take 5hrs+ on a CTS event.  The hills are killer and the down sections can be slow due to the surface.

    be prepared to be out on your feet for a long long time.

    that said they are the best events i have ever run in terms of scenery.  Particularly south devon.  It will hurt but you will love it

  • gingerbread mouse wrote (see)

    I think that you'll need to make it up as you go along - I would concentrate on endurance over speed and get the hill work in - if your not used to running a lot of hills then you'll notice muscle gain on your thighs - the more used to running up hills you get the easier it becomes.

    Lots of useful advice from the mouse and I definitely agree with this.  Having trained for the Beachy Head marathon (pretty successfully I like to think) I favoured hilly long runs and hilly fartlek over structured hill repeat sessions.

    For the long run I would aim to run off-road as much as possible and even if the whole run couldn't be hilly I would try to make the last few miles hilly, repeating a few slopes if necessary.  (I don't know the route of your race but for the Beachy Head marathon the Seven Sisters are saved up for the end... and I DID manage to run up all of them!)

    For a hilly fartlek run I would simply set off at an easy pace then put in an extra effort for each hill - something like tempo-equivalent pace for longer slopes, maybe a little harder for shorter steeper ones, but really, as above, concentrate on endurance rather than all-out bursts; during the race it's all about being able to keep a decent rythm going without overdoing things on the uphills, even if that does mean walking some of them.

    Oh and maybe I had chunky thighs already but the biggest difference I found after a good deal of hill training was actually an increase in the size of my calves. image

  • Now that I've entered my first ever hill marathon, how do I train for it? Just follow a normal marathon training prog but do it on trails and fit in as many hills as I can?
  • Thanks for the advice. YorkshireMan Half marathon here I come!!!!!!!

  • hills are my downfall ! but i plan to do the Purbeck Marathon in September any advice on training programmes i have done a few road marathons brighton being the most recent i did 11 min miling so would like a progamme that is achievable  

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