Saturday, 7 November 2015

The value of attending Trail Magazine's trail running clinic

This afternoon I had the pleasure of attending TRAIL Magazine's trail running clinic as a presenter.

I had the most superb topic 'Small things that make the biggest difference'. Oh, I know! Soooo many things! It was a challenge putting together the content and distilling 16 years of experiences and learnings into the most critical 'small things'. For days, and even still now, more and more keep popping into my head. It's those little things that you don't know starting out but that you learn with time and experiences and mistakes.

Big small things, for me, include (from the head down:

  • navigation skills (useful even on marked trails - observation, 'feeling' where you have to go)
  • a well-fitting backpack
  • emergency items (space blanket, personal first aid kit)
  • how you pack your stuff (I'm a creature of habit in what and how I pack - I know what I have and I can find my stuff in the dark; ziploc bags rule)
  • supportive sports bras (important for the less endowed; well endowed ladies should consider wearing two! Girls, look after the girls)
  • not trying anything new on race day - not even a tee (sounds so simple but yet soooo many people go against this fundamental 'rule')
  • trekking poles (all conditions! and also useful in emergencies to create a shelter or splint a broken limb)
  • Ahhh... most, most, most important - good foot care (preparation and prevention is the goal; thereafter it is knowing what you're prone to, how your blisters are caused and how to deal with them before they become a big, big problem)
I really think I need to do a whole foot care session at a clinic. I touched on a bunch of elements and yet this just so critical to running pleasure and success. There are fundamentals - like cutting and filing your toenails - that runners err on. Again and again and again.

I got to participate in Peri Zourides' strength session. It was an excellent reminder of all the things I neglect to do! 

While I missed Ryno Griesel's session earlier in the day, it was great to catch up with him and to find out what he covered in his hill-busting session. I missed out on his presentation where he spoke about how he juggles his commitments (work, family) and high-level training. This is something I've been really struggling with and will continue to do so as I move away from Jo'burg and have to let go of many things. 

One thing that Ryno said that really resonated was that there will always be things you don't get to or can't give your full attention. You just have to make peace with these. He's so right.  

Lovely to meet Heloise in person after a year of email comms (she works at TRAIL mag) and to see Chris Crewdson, Craig Gornall, Derek Smythe, Elsali Gehm and a lovely group of enthusiastic participants. Tomorrow Anca Wessels (biokineticist) and Neville Beeton (coaching and training) are presenting. 

Chris and I were chatting afterwards and we both agreed that there is so much value in attending clinics like this when you're starting out. The presenters have all learned from their experiences and they pass this on to the participants - some with little experience and others with more. We all develop our own ways of doing things - from what gear we rely on most to how we care for our feet. These are learned from experience and trial and error. Many errors. At clinics you learn from the mistakes that others have made and get guidance on how to get the basics right from the beginning. This will pave the way for a lifetime of wonderful running and participation - without the same mistakes that I made, for example, 16 years ago. As Chris says, "Why reinvent the wheel?".

This is the second clinic that Deon (publisher and editor of Trail Magazine) has organised (the first was in Durban).

Keep an eye on for others. There's a mailing list you can sign up to for direct notification of planned clinics. 

I've been on orienteering clinics and all have been so beneficial.  It is well worth trading participation in a race to attend clinics on offer. You come out of it far richer for learning from and sharing in the experiences of others.

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