Share this article

What qualities does a trail runner need?

By Catherine Lallemand, champion runner and personal trainer

Trail running, at a level that goes beyond simple nature walks, requires a number of qualities:

Quality no. 1: Endurance

There’s no doubt that this is the foundation. As in many track and field disciplines, most of the work will have to be done in endurance, and the amount of training per hour is often a determining factor in improving this quality. The weekly long-distance outing is a must for creating a habit to “endure”. Active endurance outings, fundamental outings, all means are good and all outings are productive.

Quality no. 2: The mind

Trail running is a demanding discipline in every respect. After a few hours’ running, many runners say that the mind takes over when the legs scream “STOP! Not only the length of the events, but also the altitude difference to be overcome, make mental strength particularly important. Never give up, never give up, never give up: these are the leitmotifs that many top-level trailers claim.

Quality no. 3: Envy

A must! Whether you’re training for thigh-busting rides or racing where all the indicators (muscular, cardiac, respiratory) are in the red… It’s essential to develop a strong desire to “bite into it”. And keep in mind that the beauty of the scenery, the pleasure of getting out in nature with your playmates, and the fact that you’re living a personal adventure that’s complete and thorough are worth getting hurt for.

Quality no. 4: Muscular versatility

Many muscular qualities are required to get used to running on all kinds of slopes. Starting with the climb, where the race is more about thrust and where you need good power and, above all, the ability to use it and modulate it according to the inclination of the ground. On the descent, it’s the ability to withstand the shocks that will be decisive if we are to continue the rest of the race in good conditions. Last but not least, basic speed skills on the flat are essential. They allow you to relaunch easily and save your strength for future slopes.

Quality no. 5: Agility

Because of the types of terrain encountered, agility is something to work on – if you don’t naturally possess this quality. It will save you time and energy on the “footing” on climbs and on the flat. But it will be particularly valuable downhill, where anticipation of the terrain and surface, and the ability to move forward at the right frequency and with the right support, will save you precious time. You have to know that some trails are won downhill! Personally, it’s a quality I’ve developed over time working downhill on highly technical terrain. It’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s bearing fruit today and I’m really enjoying it!

Quality no. 6: Organization

Here again, it’s a quality I’ve developed over time, because I have to admit that trail riding requires a certain amount of organization and thought if you really want to be effective. To avoid unpleasant surprises on race day, it’s essential to prepare refreshments in good time before the race. The choice of equipment to be used can also be decisive. Poles or no poles depending on the event, the right choice of clothing for the weather conditions, the right choice of hydration system or headlamp to face the night, and the right race strategy. So many elements that require “reflection”. Trail running is also about the head.

Quality no. 7: The green touch

No politics in this slogan, but simply a desire on the part of trailers to defend the nature they cross. We borrow the animals’ favorite woods and paths, and the least we can do is leave them in the same condition as we found them. No utopian impulses either, just respect! Organizers are well aware of this, and many of them provide a waste bag at the start of their race, to be attached to the belt of the bottle cage or waterbag. Personally, I get rid of my garbage at every refreshment point. Everyone has their own strategy, but a single goal: zero waste left in nature!

Quality no. 9: Brotherhood

Once again, no political slogans, just a desire to promote what we might call the “trail spirit”. Sharing experiences before the race to better anticipate the difficulties of the event. Support during the race in difficult or empty passages. The trailer also has a duty to come to the aid of others if they are in danger (it’s stipulated in the rules!). A post-trail fraternal exchange is often organized around large tables. Point for improvement put forward by the organizers: reduce carbon footprint by encouraging car pooling to get to events.

Quality no. 10: Sense of improvisation

When you’re on a trail, sometimes nothing goes according to plan! Missed or inadequate refuelling, a burst water bag, a signalling error, a headlamp going out in the night, disastrous weather conditions… And sometimes you need to have a strong heart. In such cases, a sense of improvisation and experience is a must. Take a detour to fill up in a river, anticipate a course error, use the clothes at hand to make sure you’re making good progress… Some people are masters in the art of improvisation. As an example, I used my skiing skills on an ultra-slippery, steep descent two weeks ago in a mountain race. I escaped unscathed, despite a few scares. And happy with myself!

Quality no. 11: Yours!

We all have a reason to run, to challenge ourselves and to practice this marvellous discipline that brings together all types of runners and body types. Everyone has their own little thing that makes them tick, or their own little character trait, or their own original way of dressing: so, whatever your qualities and faults, cultivate your own “trail spirit”! Loosen up on the way down, press on the way up or roll out on the flat with your buff on your head or your visor cap. Take pleasure where it is and when you have developed all these points it will be everywhere!

Find our special trail outfits in our shop!

Find Catherine on Instagram ( and on the website

10% off your first order

Register and receive a 10% discount code by e-mail to use on your first order.