Interview with Robbie Britton...Tips on Getting Into Trail Running from a GB Ultra Runner

This week in the Mile 27/Journal we hear some tips on how to start out in trail running from UK leading ultra runner Robbie Britton.


Introducing Robbie...

Currently living in Chamonix in the Alps, Robbie is a GB ultra runner and coach. One of the youngest elite trail runners around, he has already travelled the world competing in ultra trail races and has a serious amount of knowledge about trail running. Listen up!

Mile27 : A lot of our run club members will have started with running on roads. How do you approach going from running on road to running on a trail, what factors do you need to take into account physically? 

RB : When you get on the trail you've got to consider all the different directions your feet, ankles, joints etc can go in, even in the smallest variations. The road is mainly about the same pounding every single footstep, except when you're dodging tourists on the Embankment, but on trail you're asking a lot more. The first couple of trail runs you might feel these in the following days, but don't worry as your body quickly adapts.

If you want to give it a head start and just start strengthening the ankles etc then just start by brushing your teeth on one leg. It's something you do every day so why not add that little extra bit of work that will help you be strong on the single track.

Mile 27 : What are some of your recovery tips and hacks you recommend to the athletes you train?

RB : The athletes I work with all have busy lives and running is in addition to these lifestyles so it's about making sure training and life isn't too much. If you don't consider the stress of work or the workout your body gets throwing the kids around in the park (That's what you do with kids right?) then you're not looking at the whole picture. 

A tough day at work, with disrupted sleep and a poor day of eating isn't the ideal base for an interval session so recognise when you need to move things about a little and go easy on yourself. It may still be beneficial, for body as much as mind, to get out for an easy run, but doing your hill repeats a day later won't stop you improving. An injury from working out when exhausted will.

Mile 27 : For someone discovering trail running in the UK which events, races or challenges would you suggest to go for? 

RB : There are so many trail races popping up in the UK. My favourites are the 50 & 100 mile races of Centurion Running, which run along the National Trails of the South of England but there are loads of options out there. Plenty of Park Runs have some trail in them, the LDWA have a vast array of cheap and friendly events and I believe Salomon have a new Sunset Series of races this Summer too. Just get out there and ask, the Trail Running community is a super friendly bunch and the Trail Running Association also have a great list on their site.

Mile 27 : Finally, What do you think of 'off feet' training or crossover training, say using a bike or swimming or strength training around running sessions? 

RB : It all varies for the individual so there's no one stop answer for this. Many could benefit with running more, but an equal amount will benefit by running less. Strength work is a great addition to any training plan and this could be done at the bouldering gym or in the gym, but it doesn't override the need to run. Same with biking and swimming, both can work on your cardiovascular fitness but neither as specific to your event as running. If you find yourself getting injured then swapping some easy mileage for the bike can be a great alternative, but you wouldn't do a triathlon training plan and expect to be in your optimum run shape would you?

Follow Robbie @ultrabritton on instagram

Head to robbiebritton.co.uk for more info on Robbie, his coaching and his racing