Using my experiences from previous ultra and trail races I decided to change up my training towards Squamish this year and focused heavily on leg strength and power hiking, as this was my downfall before. Often overlooked, power hiking can be the key to any trail event with a lot of elevation in it. You can’t run all the hills but you can hike the hell out of them and also reserve precious energy at the same time. (I particularly found this article useful about the science behind if power hiking can be the key to faster ultra marathon races whist doing research on the matter.)
With less than 6 weeks to go I decided to head out to Box Hill with my friend Natalia for some much-needed power hiking training in my new inov-8 TRAILROC285s. Box Hill is the summit of the North Downs Way around 19 miles outside of London, which is a godsend for someone who lives in the city; which is rather flat and doesn’t prove optimum training pastures for mountain races.
We spent the day covering 11 miles and 1,860ft elevation gain with 725ft max elevation, not too bad for a Sunday! We took in some of the areas best sites such as Box Hill’s viewing point, Headley Heath with its massive stony slopes, and parts of the North Downs Way working our way over tricky tree roots and steep steps.
For anyone intending on visiting Box Hill and the surrounding area the internet has a number of great resources on the various trails. We also found the an app called View Ranger really helped our map reading abilities and allowed us to follow a pre-plotted path without getting lost! This really is a great find for London trail runners to enable them to get out and about on some challenging sections in preparation for trail racing and also to enjoy the British countryside.
Main photo: Natalia Salminen