©istockphoto/vm

©istockphoto/vm It hap­pens to all sea­soned trail run­ners, soon­er or lat­er: the plateau.

You’ll know it’s hap­pened to you when it feels like no mat­ter how often or how far you run, you don’t seem to be mak­ing any notable progress. If this sounds famil­iar, it may be time to shake up your trail run­ning habits. Here’s what you need to do to get over that hump.

Bring on the Hills
Very few trail run­ners will claim to have mas­tered the arts of run­ning uphill and downhill—there is vir­tu­al­ly always room for improve­ment. In addi­tion to tack­ling hills on your reg­u­lar trail runs, you should also incor­po­rate hill-spe­cif­ic train­ing to gain con­fi­dence and improve your technique.

As painful as they are, hill repeats are an effec­tive way of boost­ing your uphill pow­er. Throw in the occa­sion­al run that takes you up a long, steady climb, and don’t for­get to focus on those down­hill por­tions, too. These runs won’t be as much fun as your typ­i­cal trail run, but they’ll help turn your weak­ness­es into strengths.

Boost Your Effort
It’s hard to sim­ply vow to run faster on trails—unlike roads, the vary­ing ter­rain of trails requires you to inevitably slow your pace at cer­tain sec­tions, like when fac­ing a long uphill sec­tion. Rather than focus­ing on the clock, focus on your effort. You can do this in the form of inter­vals: find a rel­a­tive­ly short, but tech­ni­cal por­tion of a trail and prac­tice run­ning it with greater effort than you’re used to. Take a break, then do it again. Keep these work­outs rel­a­tive­ly short at first, as you’re like to become fatigued much faster when you’re push­ing much hard­er. Over time, increase the num­ber of inter­vals and the dis­tance of the seg­ment that you’re running.

Cross Train
For many trail run­ners, the great­est short­cut to improv­ing your trail run­ning skills is to put some work in at the gym. Strate­gic strength train­ing focus­ing on your core, legs, and bal­ance and coor­di­na­tion will give you a notice­able boost on the trails. Leg work­outs can include squats, sin­gle leg squats, and var­i­ous types of lunges, while core work can include bicy­cles and numer­ous plank vari­a­tions. Add a sta­bil­i­ty or bosu ball to work on your balance.

Pick a New Distance
Shake things up by chal­leng­ing your­self to run a new dis­tance. For instance, find a goal race that tack­les more mileage than you’ve ever run before. As your long runs become even longer, you’ll sur­prise your­self with what you’re capa­ble of.

But it’s not always about run­ning far­ther: if you’re used to run­ning ultras, why not switch it up—sign up for a short­er dis­tance than you’re used to, but chal­lenge your­self by ramp­ing up your effort. When you’re used to run­ning long and steady, run­ning short­er but faster can be a refresh­ing change of pace.

Swap Out Your Shoes
When was the last time you picked up new trail run­ning shoes? Beyond that, when was the last time you were prop­er­ly fit­ted for trail run­ners? If it’s been awhile, you might be sur­prised at how much of a dif­fer­ence a new pair of kicks can make. Pick­ing shoes that are suit­able to the ter­rain you tread (whether that’s wet, mucky dirt trails or slick rock) can help boost your con­fi­dence. It’s much eas­i­er to throw your­self into those down­hills when you know your shoes will pre­vent you from slipping.

Take a Breather
Don’t for­get to take your rest days! If you’re the type who likes to be on the go, rest days can be even more chal­leng­ing than the hard­est of workouts—but they’re a key com­po­nent to any train­ing reg­i­men and are a must for pre­vent­ing injuries. Remem­ber, rest days don’t mean you need to stay on the couch all day long—you can still do things like go on a long walk or bike ride, or hit up a yoga class.

shutterstock_391136107
Trail run­ning is an invig­o­rat­ing, but lone­ly sport if you choose to tread ground by your­self. If you’re look­ing for a new com­pan­ion while you train for the next 10K, there’s no rea­son you can’t take your best friend. It’ll take a lit­tle con­di­tion­ing, but dogs def­i­nite­ly make for some good run­ning buddies.

Here’s how to get started.

Choose the Right Breed
Not every dog is made for run­ning, believe it or not. A French bull­dog isn’t going to get very far on an uphill trek, but a Vizs­la can climb moun­tains. Be sure to research the breeds and make sure your pooch is fit for the trail. Take into account body shape, propen­si­ty for injuries and genet­ic defects like hip dys­pla­sia and whether or not your pup can han­dle the cli­mate you pre­fer to run in. Don’t take a dog run­ning if he’s not built for the adventure.

Build Up Endurance
While the aver­age dog might be able to out­run most ath­letes, that doesn’t mean your pup won’t need con­di­tion­ing. When first start­ing out it’s impor­tant to help your dog build his endurance rather than expect­ing him to keep up right out the gate. Try min­i­miz­ing runs to a mile or two for a cou­ple of weeks, then slow­ly increase the dis­tance over time. His mus­cles and joints need time to adjust just like yours did.

Work On Leash Commands
If your dog isn’t the best at walk­ing on a leash, he’ll prob­a­bly be a night­mare if you try to run with him. Make sure he has his leash and walk­ing com­mands down pat before attempt­ing to speed things up. You dog should be taught to stay by your side on both walks and runs by reward­ing him with treats as you go. Remem­ber, he should be with­in three feet of you at all times, so keep him on a short leash that is teth­ered to your waist. If he pulls, imme­di­ate­ly turn around in the oth­er direc­tion and call for him to fol­low. If he turns with you and comes to your side, toss him a treat. Your dog also needs to learn how to stop on command.

Teach Man­ners
Your dog needs to be prop­er­ly social­ized before hit­ting the trails. Oth­er­wise, every encounter with a human or anoth­er ani­mal could cause him to becomes excit­ed and lead to seri­ous injury. A poor­ly social­ized dog can become too ener­getic and trip you dur­ing your run when some­thing approach­es, or could become aggres­sive and attack. Intro­duce him to plen­ty of strangers, both of the two and four-legged vari­ety, when he’s young so he’ll know peo­ple and their pets are not a threat.

Start At an Appro­pri­ate Age
Most medi­um to large breed dogs don’t stop grow­ing until they’re rough­ly 18 months old. Try­ing to make your pup run with you before then could cause last­ing dam­age to his joints. Wait until your dog is ful­ly grown before start­ing a train­ing regime. It’s dif­fi­cult to make him sit out on your adven­tures for so long, but it’s much bet­ter than the alter­na­tive of expen­sive surg­eries and med­ica­tions to help him walk when he’s old­er because you messed up his legs as a puppy.

Warm Up
Like humans, dogs shouldn’t just hit the ground run­ning with­out per­form­ing a few stretch­es and warm-ups first. Walk your dog for at least five min­utes before pick­ing up the pace to help ease him into the trip. Repeat this at the end to help him calm down.

Bring Water
Dogs are hard­wired to please their own­ers, which some­times mean they’ll push them­selves a lit­tle too hard with­out us know­ing it. Watch for signs of fatigue and dehy­dra­tion while run­ning and be sure to bring along extra water for your pup. If your dog is exces­sive­ly pant­i­ng that means it’s prob­a­bly time for a break. Don’t push him too hard, keep him hydrat­ed and make sure to have him checked out by a vet on a reg­u­lar basis to ensure he main­tains his health.

Before explor­ers had maps, com­pass­es, and hand­held GPS devices, humankind was nav­i­gat­ing the world using direc­tion­al clues in the nat­ur­al envi­ron­ment. There is infor­ma­tion hid­den all around us—in the sun, moon, stars, clouds, weath­er pat­terns, chang­ing tides, plant growth and more. Here are a few quick nat­ur­al nav­i­gat­ing wilder­ness tips:

Use Clues To Find The Sun
The sun ris­es in the east and sets in the west. In the mid­dle of the day, the sun will show you which way is south. Even if you can’t see the sun on a cloudy sky, you can ass­es which direc­tion is south by feel­ing a damp rock. If one side feels dry­er or warmer than the oth­er, chances are it’s the south­ern aspect. Be warned: the myth about moss grow­ing on the north sides of trees is just that—a myth.

Learn To Find Polaris
Polaris is less than one degree from the celes­tial pole—making it one of the eas­i­est ways to iden­ti­fy car­di­nal direc­tions at night. Also called the North Star, it has been doc­u­ment­ed over the ages in cul­tures through­out the North­ern Hemi­sphere. “It was Gra­had­hara in North­ern India and Yil­duz in Turkey. It has been known as al-Qiblah to the Arabs, in tes­ta­ment to its aid in find­ing the direc­tion of Mec­ca. The Chi­nese had at least four names for it,” writes nav­i­ga­tion expert Tris­tan Gooley.

To find Polaris, use the Big Dip­per as ref­er­ence. You’ll see the three stars of the dipper’s “han­dle,” and four stars that make up the “dip­per.” Mea­sure the dis­tance between the two far­thest-right stars in the dip­per, then fol­low an imag­i­nary line between them and up and to the right. The dis­tance to the North Star is five times the dis­tance between the point­er stars. (Tip: Polaris is the bright­est star in its imme­di­ate vicin­i­ty, so if you see two stars of sim­i­lar bright­ness close to each oth­er, you’re look­ing in the wrong place.)

Use Nat­ur­al Handrails
A handrail is an immov­able nat­ur­al or man­made land­mark. You can use this as a point of ref­er­ence as you trav­el. For exam­ple, hik­ers might look at a map and make a men­tal note to keep a riv­er on their left-hand side as they trav­el, and boaters might stay between a chain of islands and the mainland’s shore. Using a handrail can let you trav­el rel­a­tive­ly quick­ly while stay­ing on a route as you’re nav­i­gat­ing in the wilderness.

winter run

winter runWhen the world out­side is cov­ered in snow and ice, most peo­ple slip on a pair of cozy slip­pers and snug­gle close to the fire.

But trail run­ners aren’t “most peo­ple,” and win­try con­di­tions are no excuse to hiber­nate. As the old adage goes, “there’s no such thing as bad weather—only unsuit­able clothing.”

That spring race is clos­er than you think and it sure as heck isn’t going to run itself, so grab your shoes (and spikes) and head to the trails.

Spikes: Don’t Leave Home With­out Them
Crampons—or spikes, as many peo­ple call them—are just as essen­tial as your shoes when the trails are cov­ered with ice. You’ll need extra trac­tion to avoid painful bails, par­tic­u­lar­ly on uphill and down­hill sections.

Look for more rugged mod­els that are meant for the trails, which will stand up to uneven ter­rain, slip­pery trails, and ice-cov­ered rock. Coil-type trac­tion devices are typ­i­cal­ly not tough enough to sur­vive a winter’s worth of trail runs. Look for styles with a strap over your foot, which will stay in place, even when you’re well into in the dou­ble-dig­it miles.

Socks: Go Tall
This is most def­i­nite­ly not the sea­son for ankle socks. Not only will your ankles freeze from kicked up snow, but they might also get a lit­tle bloody if you acci­den­tal­ly brush your ankle bones with your spikes (it hap­pens to the best of us). Look for tech­ni­cal socks that will keep your feet toasty and your ankles hap­py in insu­lat­ing, breath­able material.

Lay­ers: The Great Paradox
Dress­ing for a cold-weath­er run in the trails is a lit­tle trick­i­er than sim­ply throw­ing on shorts and a T‑shirt. Strad­dling the line between stay­ing warm and over­heat­ing is eas­i­er said than done, and it’s hard not to over­dress a lit­tle when you know how frigid that first mile will feel.

A thick lay­er of tights is usu­al­ly suf­fi­cient for the bot­tom half, although some pre­fer to lay­er two on par­tic­u­lar­ly blus­tery days. As for the top, start with a meri­no wool base and lay­er as need­ed. It’s easy enough to tie a jack­et around your waist or tuck it into your vest, but avoid the temp­ta­tion to pile on the layers—you’ll heat up faster than you think.

Extrem­i­ties: Pro­tect ‘Em
Don’t for­get about your hands and your head. A good pair of run­ning gloves are well worth the invest­ment. If you feel your­self get­ting too warm, they’re easy to tuck into your run­ning vest or pockets.

Choose a head­band or beanie that’s meant for running—they’ll keep your nog­gin warm with­out turn­ing into a pool of sweat. Don’t for­get a neck warmer to pull up against your face, which is a must-have in windy conditions.

Hydra­tion: Essen­tial, Even if You Don’t Feel Thirsty
You might not think you’re thirsty on a mid-win­ter run, but your body is work­ing mighty hard—especially since it’s try­ing to keep you warm in addi­tion to every­thing else. You might not need as much water as you do in warmer weath­er, but def­i­nite­ly bring some water with you and remem­ber to take a few sips every so often.

Run­ning Com­pan­ions: The Key Ingredient
When con­di­tions are a lit­tle sketchy, it’s always a good idea to run with a friend or two. Despite your best efforts, slips and stum­bles can still hap­pen, espe­cial­ly since ice and obsta­cles are eas­i­ly blan­ket­ed under a lay­er of snow. There’s safe­ty in num­bers, so call your run­ning bud­dies and make a plan. Besides, it’s always eas­i­er to head out the door when you know some­one is wait­ing on you.

What dri­ves us to the moun­tains? To the trails? To wilder­ness? These are the ques­tions Anton Krupic­ka asks. As he says, “We can nev­er have enough of nature,” quot­ing Thore­au. This video is all about tak­ing to the trail to expe­ri­ence what it real­ly means to be human, to get back to the pri­mal nature of our exis­tence, and ulti­mate­ly to expe­ri­ence nature first hand. Fol­low Krupic­ka as he races over 100 miles through the moun­tains while reflect­ing on what com­pels us to these nat­ur­al spaces.

 

©istockphoto/nullplusSum­mer is just start­ing, which means most of us are ready to get back into an out­door rou­tine. Even for the “all sea­sons” out­door enthu­si­ast, this is still a time of tran­si­tion and jump­ing back into sum­mer activ­i­ties can be chal­leng­ing. So, if you’re ready to brush off the dust and hit the trail, here are a few tips.

Check Your Shoes
Run­ning shoes are gen­er­al­ly good for about 8 months of reg­u­lar wear. If you played hard last sum­mer your shoes may not be per­form­ing opti­mal­ly, in which case it’s prob­a­bly time for a new pair. For those pur­su­ing mul­ti­ple activ­i­ties, opt for a shoe that can take you wher­ev­er you go.

Bring Your Gear to Work
For nine to fivers espe­cial­ly, it’s easy to rush home to the couch and spend the evening loung­ing. To boost your chances of get­ting your after­noon out­door activ­i­ty in, pack a bag with what you’ll need and bring it with you to work so you can change and go right the trail­head or park.

Get a Partner
Chances are you’re not the only one look­ing to get back in the swing of things. Enlist a friend to team up and get back out. You’ll moti­vate each oth­er and the added pres­sure of mak­ing your work­out a social event, means you’re more like­ly to fol­low through.

Go In the Morning
While it might not be real­is­tic to forge out on a 10-mile morn­ing hike, it’s prob­a­bly pos­si­ble to get a short trail run in before break­fast. Take advan­tage of the ear­li­er day­light hours and get out­side first thing. While giv­ing up an extra 30 min­utes of shut-eye is no easy feat, you’ll thank your­self lat­er in the day when you’ve already got­ten out. The trick with ear­ly morn­ing activ­i­ty is to start before your brain knows what’s happening.

Play with Your Pup
If you spent the cold­er sea­sons hiber­nat­ing, your fur­ry friend prob­a­bly did too. Tak­ing your dog out for a hike or run is a sure way to get you both back into it. He will thank you—and prob­a­bly be less mis­chie­vous after a bout of out­door activity.

Pick a New Trail
Feel­ing burnt out on the same trails you roamed last year? Branch out a lit­tle and explore some­thing new. A new set­ting, a dif­fer­ent trail, or an unseen view might be just what you need to get back into your sum­mer rou­tine. Be sure to stay safe by choos­ing types of ter­rain you’re used to and let­ting some­one know where you’ll be. Once you’ve cov­ered that have at it and take the road less traveled.

Get Caf­feinat­ed
Feel­ing too tired to get out­side? Try down­ing a cup of cof­fee 30–60 min­utes before your activ­i­ty. Stud­ies show this amount of caf­feine boosts per­for­mance and it’ll like­ly help you muster the ener­gy to get start­ed. If you tend to engage in activ­i­ty in the evening opt for less caf­feine or none at all if you’re par­tic­u­lar­ly sen­si­tive as it can affect your sleep schedule.

Join a Run­ning Group
Often found on social net­works or via a sim­ple Google search, local run­ning groups are a great way to get out­side. The added ben­e­fit of orga­nized group runs means more rou­tine and more moti­va­tion to get out.

Explore a New Activity
Maybe this is the year you final­ly start kayak­ing, pick up moun­tain bik­ing, or try out­door rock climb­ing. What­ev­er your new activ­i­ty is, it’s sure to get you back into the out­doors and enjoy­ing your summer.

Make a Plan
Some might be rid­ing the guilt of all that “Net­flix and chill” this win­ter. If that sounds like you, don’t fret or let it bog you down. Make a plan to get start­ed and employ some of these oth­er tips. Write it out if you have to, but start by des­ig­nat­ing sev­er­al days a week as your days to get out. Before you know it, you’ll be hit­ting your sum­mer activ­i­ties like you nev­er stopped.

Montrail Rogue

Montrail Rogue

Mon­trail is an indus­try leader in footwear because of their demon­strat­ed excel­lence design­ing shoes that enhance the bio­me­chan­ics of the foot, and the Mon­trail Women’s Rogue Fly is the cul­mi­na­tion of more than twen­ty years of run­ning experience.

This shoe is Montrail’s high­ly-suc­cess­ful ver­sion of a min­i­mal­ist run­ner with a rugged sole. They’ve sim­pli­fied the mesh upper so there are no fab­ric over­lays that tend to cre­ate synch points when laced snug­ly, and the ultra-breath­able mesh allows air to cir­cu­late through the shoe as you run which con­tributes to less blis­ter-induc­ing hot spots.

The mesh shaves the most over­all weight from the shoe, but so does the light, low pro­file mid­sole that is still rigid enough to offer slight prona­tion con­trol. This com­bi­na­tion of fea­tures achieves a bal­ance that suc­cess­ful­ly strad­dles the bound­ary between a min­i­mal­ist shoe and a trail run­ner. Out­side mag­a­zine rec­og­nized Montrail’s achieve­ment with this design by award­ing this shoe the 2012 Gear of the Year Award.

In the video above, Trail Run­ner Magazine’s open male Trail Run­ner of the Year Max King describes how he began trail run­ning on his high school’s cross coun­try team, and stuck with it because of his pas­sion for being a part of the wilder­ness while training.

All of his hard work has def­i­nite­ly paid off. He had an impres­sive 2012 with a PRs at the Olympic Trails in the marathon and 3000-meter steeple­chase, the USATF Trail Nation­al Cham­pi­onship win in Bend, Ore­gon, and he broke the course-record at Maryland’s JFK 50-mile.

 

There are marathons and then there’s The West­ern States 100, one of the most bru­tal 100-mile (161km) trail races out there. Film­mak­er JB Ben­na fol­lows four out­stand­ing trail run­ners as they com­pete dur­ing the 2010 race in the film Unbreak­able: The West­ern States 100.  In order to win, one must defeat the oth­er three unde­feat­ed ultra marathon­ers and break a course record.

[via: WS 100 Film]

We’re going to keep the momen­tum going by fea­tur­ing a spe­cial Tues­day event.

Patag­o­nia began with sup­ply­ing tools for climbers, and although that love of Alpin­ism remains at their heart, they’ve since grown to sup­ply­ing appar­el, gear and footwear for climbers, skiers, snow­board­ers, surfers, trail run­ners and more. Our first event with Patag­o­nia fea­tures footwear for men and women at up to 60% off. You can wel­come them to The Clymb by shop­ping their awe­some selec­tion here.

Also, mak­ing their Clymb debut, Nirve. Their pre­mi­um hand­made com­fort bicy­cles come in a strik­ing array of styles and graph­ics. We’re proud to fea­ture their fun and easy to ride bikes today, at exclu­sive mem­ber pricing.

If you haven’t already, come fol­low us on Twit­ter and Face­book where we’re always avail­able to answer your ques­tions, take your sug­ges­tions, and sup­ply an invi­ta­tion to The Clymb!

When you’re done shop­ping, check out this video from Patag­o­nia on cor­po­rate responsibility:

Would you believe that in some parts of the coun­try kids are going back to school in just a few weeks? Did­n’t sum­mer just start? Well, it’s nev­er too soon to get a great deal, and you’ll have your pick among the back­packs and bags from DAKINE, Ogio, Bur­ton and Kel­ty, all at up to 65% off for mem­bers. Shop our back to school pack event now.

 

Also, trail and hik­ing footwear for men, women and kids from Hi-Tec. Their cool gel tech­nol­o­gy offers the ulti­mate in com­fort and their styles trans­fer from the trail to town with ease. You can do your feet a favor at up to 55% off here.

Need an invite? Have a ques­tion about an order? Or maybe you have a brand sug­ges­tion for an upcom­ing event? Either way, reach­ing out via Face­book and Twit­ter is the way to go.