Lizzy Strauss gives tips in Trail 13 photo Govan Basson

Lizzy Strauss discovered trail in 2012 after getting into adventure sport through multisport.

Let yourself go

Just enter your first race and go for it. Take your time, forget your pace, and enjoy the scenery. Then train a little more to make the next one easier. The more you enjoy the trails, the faster you’ll improve on them. 
Nicolette Griffioen South African Ultra Trail and Long Distance Trail champion

Nicolette Griffioen Hennops River trail runner running Gauteng
Nicolette and Doby putting in training time alongside the Hennops River. Photo Erik Vermeulen

Train on the terrain

If you’re doing a race longer than two hours, you need to do lot of long runs to be able to run the distance. Spend some time in the mountains to get used to the terrain. This is vital. There’s no short-cut for these longer races. 
Thabang Madiba Four Peaks Mountain Challenge record holder, international racer

Thabang Madiba walking on water as usual, this time on the spectacular Runtheberg Trail Run. 3 – 4 October, KwaZulu-Natal. Photo Jetline Action Photos
Thabang Madiba crosses a river at speed during the Runtheberg Trail Run in the Drakensberg. Photo Jetline Action Photos

Determine the profile

Some trail runs are fast and the technical sections are short and sweet. Other trail runs can include mammoth climbs and technical descents. My husband Iain and I find that trail runs should always be looked at in terms of finishing times (rather than distance) as this gives you a more accurate idea of the fitness you need. 
Su Don-Wauchope Mountain runner with Giant’s Cup Trail, Otter African Trail Run, Mont-Aux-Sources Challenge, and many other wins

Grey for guidance

It’s a mind game to go long distance. You need to control your body via your mind: the longer the distance the more the mind matters. 
Victor TheHunter Gugushe Southern Cross stage race winner

Pace yourself

Be prepared for the route challenges in the late kilometres, as that is where enormous time gains and losses occur. Hold back a bit in the first hour, and have a strict, regular fuelling plan to ensure that you’re not running on empty later on – try for 200 calories per hour. (That’s the equivalent of two bananas.) Relax and enjoy the scenery and the company of the other runners.
Andrew Hagen former Platteklip Gorge Descent record holder, and three-time winner of Three Peaks Challenge

Andrew Hagen blitzing downhill running Photo Hayley Hagen
Andrew Hagen stays well fuelled to stay mentally sharp and lifts his feet to avoid tripping while blitzing downhill. Photo Hayley Hagen


Slowly condition your body over a considerable time period to avoid overuse and other injuries. Make sure that you train on similar terrain as the race you are planning to run. 
Landie Greyling Winner of Otter African Trail Run, Ultra-trail Cape Town 100km and 65km, and other local and international races

Landie Greyling wins UTCT100 Ultra-trail Cape Town 2016
Landie Greyling won the Ultra-trail Cape Town 100km in 2016

Read TRAIL magazine issue 13 for more tips.

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