Trail running - what is that exactly? Running up the mountain?
Who does this to himself? Why run uphill? Those were some of my first thoughts on the subject of trail running. Tyrolean Harald Angerer tells us exactly what is behind this sport. He runs up mountains out of passion!
Running uphill and downhill
I myself like to run leisurely at Schwarzsee, 1-2 laps of 2.5 km each, for me quite enough. Nevertheless, I wanted to know more about trail running (cross-country running). Kindly Harald Angerer (journalist at the Tiroler Tageszeitung) and an enthusiastic trail runner (landscape runner), was available for all my questions. Nature-loving, not dogged, but with heart he runs himself up to 5 times a week on the surrounding mountain peaks.
Harald, how did you get into trail running? - I used to mountain bike, due to time constraints and being overweight I started running in 2008 and then in 2011 I started trail running, "landscape running" as I would call it in German. I just wanted to get out into nature and in our region it is obvious to then become a trail runner. But of course, the mountains also beckoned. It is an incredibly rewarding feeling to stand at the top and enjoy the view.
If you want to start trail running, what should you pay special attention to? - A certain basic level of fitness is a prerequisite. You should be able to run for about an hour. You start in the slightly hilly and on technically less demanding paths and then increase. Uphill you run differently, the steps are shorter, the pace slower and now and then you also walk or you stop briefly to enjoy the area, that's just part of it for me. Downhill, it is important to start on the forefoot first, so the knees are spared, because the thigh then acts as a shock absorber. You should keep your upper body slightly forward, and use your shoulders to determine your speed. If they are far forward, you go downhill faster, if they are farther back, you go slower. But please never run in a backward position.
You also participate in competitions, how do you prepare for them? - I need competitions for myself to motivate myself throughout the year. I always have two main competitions in mind. One at the beginning of summer and one at the end of summer. Preparation for ultra runs such as over 60 km and 2,500 meters of altitude is important. Not only for the body, but also for the head. From a certain running duration, the psyche plays an important role. There are phases in long competitions such as the Karwendel Marsch (52 km and 2,281 meters of altitude) when you often ask yourself: "Why am I doing this?" Nevertheless, or maybe because of that, it is a very casual feeling to be at the finish line 6 hours later. My best experience this year was not a competition, but a private project. I completed the KAT Walk, a long-distance hiking trail in our region that covers 110 km and 6500 meters of elevation gain, in one piece, in 26 hours. That was something very special.
Harald, how many mountains have you already mastered on foot? - There are a few fixed mountains that I regularly run over the year, such as the Hahnenkamm, the Kitzbüheler Horn and of course my local mountain, the Hohe Salve. The Tristkogel, on the other hand, is a peak that is unfortunately still missing from my collection. But I do not count the peaks.
How do you relax after a competition? Do you go running in the mountains again right away? - After a competition, I run very easily the next day and the days after that I usually go mountain biking. Then my legs are soon ready for new challenges.
Can you tell us something about the right equipment? - Good running shoes with a good tread are very important. You shouldn't skimp on shoes. As far as clothing is concerned, normal running clothes are basically enough. In nature, it's just a little looser, so the pants do not have to be tight. For longer distances from 2 hours, it is recommended to take a special running backpack. This should be equipped with emergency equipment. This includes a space blanket, a small first aid kit and your cell phone. Regarding equipment, I would recommend everyone to seek advice in a specialty store.
What do you do in winter when the hiking trails are covered in snow? - I don't run as much in winter, I go ski touring more. They're also the perfect preparation for my fixed date, for the Vertical-Up, where the goal is to conquer the Streif from the bottom to the top as quickly as possible. But running in the snow can also be something, either on the winter hiking trails or simply cross-country.
Would you say in general that sporting activity is important in your free time? - For me, sports are a very important balance to my job. It makes me more efficient and makes it easier for me to cope with stressful situations. I can only recommend it to everyone. Apart from that, anyone, really anyone, can do trail running.
Do you prefer to run alone or in a group? Do you need music for running? - When I go on longer runs, it's quite fine to have someone with me. But long training sessions that you do alone are also important. In competitions, you're with people, but ultimately you're alone with yourself. You first have to learn how to deal with yourself. I almost never need music, only when I need some distraction. Basically I like the sound and my footsteps on the ground while running. I also like to hear what is happening around me.
Your favorite surface to run on? - I take it as it comes, but when I think about it, a soft alpine floor is especially fine for running.