Over time we have compiled a list of handy hints relating to trail running, multisport and generally getting out into the outdoors. Many of these will be common sense, and/or very obvious to those who have been involved in these activities for some time. However, for people just getting involved, or buying gear for the first time, we are aware that you don't know what you don't know, and therefore offer these hints in the hope that they make your outdoor experiences just a little more enjoyable. Please send us your own handy hints which we will add to version 2.
When selecting a backpack, here are a couple of features to keep in mind -
1) Fit. Try it on to ensure the straps don't rub, especially around the neck area. No matter how good a pack, we are all shaped differently, and the best backpack in the world won't work for everyone.
2) Wing Pockets. Having waist pockets means you can access food (gels, bars etc) on the go, without having to swing your pack off to gain access. A small thing, but it can save time and energy.
3) Size selection. Bigger is not necessarily better. We have found that unless you plan on being out overnight, a 12 litre pack (that's the capacity of the pack, not the bladder !) is more than enough. A 12 litre pack will hold all the emergency gear you need for Coast to Coast, and no event has more emergency gear requirements than C2C. Having a pack any bigger than this will just mean your gear moves around inside the pack.
4) Cut the straps. And seal the ends. It's pretty annoying to have excess strap flailing around when you are in the bush. And one more thing to get caught up. But before you do cut the excess off, make sure you fit the pack fully loaded - you need longer straps when fully loaded than when partially loaded.
Everyone has their own sock preference. However, trail running is different from road running in the sense that you will get your feet wet. Whereas many road runners wear cushioned socks to absorb some of the beating your joints get from the hard surface that is a road, on trails you don't need that. In fact cushioned socks tend to act as a sponge - your shoes might drain really well after every river you run through, but then the cushioned sock holds the moisture and gives you blisters!
Duct tape it in front of the cockpit on your kayak. It's great for timing intervals when training, helps with reminders of when to eat, and you don't have to stop paddling to look at your watch.
There are books written on the subject of the best nutrition for optimum performance - so we won't try and write another one. But here are a few tips, especially for longer events, expeditions and long weekend training sessions: 1) Don't try something new on race day. Experiment with different types of food in training. 2) For longer expeditions variety is the spice of life - most people will get sick of solely sucking on gels. 3) Include some real food. Our favourite is peanut butter and banana sandwiches on white bread. We may never normally consume white bread, but after a few hours or a day in the bush it is easy and quick to digest.
Road runners tend to come in from a run, take their shoes off, throw them in a corner and not look at them again until they next want to go for a run. If you do the same with your trail shoes then they will die an early death. Depending on where you run they will get filthy very quickly with mud, sand, clay and salt. It's best to thoroughly hose them down , including removing the inner soles, and then dry out of direct sunlight, but with air circulation. For even quicker drying, stuff with crumpled newspaper. Don't put in the washing machine ! Detergent and the action of the washing machine will interact badly with the glues that hold the shoes together.