Trail runner Rene Unser tells us what it takes to keep going during a multi-day race.
Image: Klaus Fengler (Feature image: Schneider Outdoor Visions)
Five-time Trans Alpine Run competitor and coach Rene Unser is passionate about trail running, in particular partnered staged races. No wonder, as she fell in love with the sport after her would-be husband coaxed her from the roads and onto the trails. She never looked back and she shares some of that passion here, as she explains what’s needed to smash a staged run.
Strategy is key
Having a fine tuned strategy is something important to Rene, in fact it’s one of the things she loves most about these races. She says: “I enjoy the strategy involved in preparation, racing and recovery. The preparation forms my lifestyle and it’s the favourite part for me.”
Care for your partner
Being in sync with your partner could make or break a race. Rene says: “Learn to work with your partner on and off the trails. Very rarely will you and your partner feel good at the same time. You need to work together and understand what the other needs.”
Image: Klaus Fengler
Perfect your pace
Can you keep that pace through the whole race? Rene says you need to find out: “Learn your pace and check in with yourself – can you sustain this pace for the whole race, for many days. Try splitting your race into half and run the first half at a moderate, comfortable pace. After the half way mark you can reassess your capability to increase your efforts as you get closer to the finish.”
Know your strengths
No one has a perfect race, and that’s ok. “Most people will learn their strengths and weaknesses as their training progresses. Know there will be stages that won’t always match your strengths,” says Rene. “Do research on the daily profiles and recognise when the terrain will complement your strengths and try to capitalise on this,” she adds.
Perhaps not an eight-day trail run, but get out on the trails. Rene says: “I really encourage people if they love running long distances to give it a try. Stage races bring the world together, and I’ve met so many people and travelled to so many amazing places, it’s more than just a race!” And road runners should start slowly, she adds: “It’s a good idea to learn technique from a coach to avoid injury or join a running club to learn from others. Often the first thing I tell road runners when they make the transition to trails, is to change their mind-set, as we do a lot more hiking and road runners are not typically used to this.”