Words by Edwina Sutton. Images by Robbie Davies @ ApresImaging
Edwina Sutton is a champion triathlete and ultra runner who lives right here in Morzine. As a qualified personal trainer, triathlon coach and PE teacher, she is super keen to help people get out in the mountains and achieve things they never thought possible. Morzine and the rest of the Portes du Soleil have been busy creating new running routes which are fully operational as of last week (you can check them out on the amazing app Trace de Trail) so we thought we’d ask Edwina to share some of her trail running wisdom with us…
“We are surrounded by the most breath-taking mountains and trails, but on the whole many runners do not venture far from the Dereche or Lake Montriond. Running on trail is the ultimate work out both physically and mentally, I guarantee if you spend an hour on the trails you will feel both exhilarated and revived. So if you are keen to get out a little further, go a little higher, push yourself that little bit harder here are some tips to get you started:
Everything in our lives, even in the mountains is frenetic, we live in an age when people want answers instantly and results yesterday! Out on the trails its just you, the mountain, the path, the rocks, the weather. Your pace per mile is irrelevant (it often takes me plus 20 minutes to run a mile), on the trail its about finding a new rhythm, one you can sustain for the whole run. Follow your breathing, if you are uncomfortable, slow down and don’t be afraid to hike, especially uphill, take this time to really listen to your body and let the natural pace of the trail dictate your effort.
I think a lot of runners worry about running on trails because they don’t know their way or may feel intimidated meeting strangers. Tell someone where you are going and when you think you’ll be back. Always carry your phone and ID and remember you are a trail runner! Run with purpose and pace if you feel intimidated. As your runs get more adventurous and longer in duration make sure you carry some food and water. There are hundreds of good running backpacks out there and well worth the investment as you can also carry a waterproof in case of a summer shower. Weather can turn very quickly in the mountains!
RUN BY TIME
Instead of trying to hit five or ten kilometres, run by time. Add in feet or metres climbed and it could take you a couple of hours to cover only a handful of miles. So either head out of the door with a time in mind or a location to reach. As you get more confident and run regularly on trails you will get more attuned to the sort of pace you are capable of. The hill which at first you could hardly walk up, you can now power hike up and run off the top!
PROGRESS IN YOUR OWN TIME
The daunting task of any challenge is taking the first step. So build up gradually, start with a gentle, well groomed trail (there are a number of marked graded trails around Morzine). An out and back route is always good for starters as are a number of the fire roads which are kept clear and good underfoot.
The beauty of trail running is that you are outside, in nature and with only yourself and the mountain for company. Take your time, walk when you need to, stop, take a breath, take a photo, drink from the streams (always check upstream first and make sure you choose fast-flowing water) Listen to the birds, to the cow bells, listen to the silence. Challenge yourself, push your limits, then turn for home, pleased in the knowledge you have been places, seen views and experienced more ‘life’ before breakfast than lots of people do in their average week!”
Edwina loves nothing more than showing people the local trails, so if you think you might like to give trail running a try, check out her website or drop her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s also super involved with Morzine Running Club.