In 2016 Tom Crossland, Track Mafia coach and avid trail runner, took to the famous Ridgeway in the Race to the Stones. Tom takes us through the benefits of track training and how it helped him on his journey to the Stones, in training and on course.
As a natural trail runner, you can find me most days meandering through the trails of Richmond Park and Wimbledon common. Two of the most beautiful places to both run and recover, depending on what my training demands. As a coach for Track Mafia, I often use the trails of the Park to piece together the workouts we give to our runners every Thursday. The unbroken paths in all directions remind me of a track as both have loops that you can use to judge your distance, cadence and effort.
Track training can, among many other things, help you with discipline and understanding how your effort correlates to distance, so when you take that same mentality to the trails, it extends that effort, as you encounter undulation, variation and, most importantly for trail racing, a lack of control over both.
“Training on a track can help you with discipline and understanding how your effort correlates to distance.”
I use track training to help me build consistency and strength so that I can apply that across any distance, within reason. It gives me confidence that I can push at an effort for as long as the workout demands, safe in the knowledge that there I can rest and recover at the finish line.
My Race to the Stones experience
I applied this same mentality when I ran Race to the Stones, specifically when I told myself towards the last third of the race that I wanted to finish before the sun had set. I framed each section between fuel stations as a mini track workout, each finish line being that table with all the treats and wonderful people who help out each runner in their various stages of exhaustion. Knowing that I had used the track to consistently practice repeated efforts, on tired legs, gave me great confidence that I would finish that beautiful course just as the sun hit the horizon.
“I framed each section between fuel stations as a mini track workout…”
My advice to you
There is no substitute for getting out on the trails, getting your legs used to all those micro adjustments nature has to offer, but using a track to get your mentality in line with your physicality instils a robust confidence that, no matter the distance, you can get to the end of it in one piece with a smile on your face.
“using a track to get your mentality in line with your physicality instils a robust confidence..”
– By Tom Crossland
Feeling inspired and looking for a group trail run for your diaries?
Join us and Track Mafia on the Richmond trails as we head out for a 15km social run on the 23rd May; 2.0 of the Threshold x TrackMafia collab !