Running Off The Beaten Path

18 May 2016

If you ever feel tired of the treadmill or are stuck in the running rut, then it might be time to leave the road (or the gym) behind and head for the running trails. We talk to two avid runners about trail running and how to get involved in this exciting, exhilarating activity.

Most weekdays, Jun Chan works on his food business. But sometimes, he trades his apron for a headlamp and a pair of comfy running shoes. Jun completed the Translantau race in Hong Kong recently, which saw runners like him tackling 100 kilometres of steep climbs and downhills along South Lantau’s scenic trails.

Jun first caught the running bug in 2012, after winning a bet with his friends for who would finish faster in a full marathon. Things got more serious when he took part in his first 100 kilometre ultra marathon in 2014. It was around the same time that Jun got interested in off-road terrains as it offered serenity, a breath of fresh air and more chances to see nature.

“Now I regularly compete in ultra trail running races, which takes me to some of the most amazing places around the world,“ explains Jun, who will be running his first 100-mile ultra trail marathon in the Philippines in May 2016.

For Mellna Rina, a fitness trainer based in KL, her love for running began with a 10-kilometre fun run in 2012. Over the next four years, she gradually progressed to 21 kilometres before moving on to 42 kilometre marathons.

Mell admits that she constantly challenges herself. Her plan to run 50 kilometres this year and 100 kilometres by next year has sparked an interest in trail running.

An added bonus to the adrenaline rush is definitely the scenic routes these runs take. “My favourite aspect is morning trail run beginning at the crack of dawn - such a peaceful and amazing experience.”

Trail running involves running over grass, woodland, beaches or any other natural outdoor environment. Compared to hitting the pavement, trail running is said to be easier on the knees and it improves your sense of balance.

What makes a trail especially worthy of a run varies from runner to runner. “Natural and clean trails are important for me,” says Jun.

Their advice for people who would like to pick up the sport?

1. Grab the right gear. Wear clothing you don’t mind getting messy or ripped, and put on comfortable running shoes. Bring your mobile phone, a headlamp and some rations just in case the trail gets long.

2. Bring something to drink. Keeping yourself hydrated is a must, even if you’re going out for a short time.

3. Run with a buddy. “Get a small group of friends or join a running group community,” Mell advises. Alternatively, check out Trail Running Malaysia for upcoming excursions and competitions.

4. Put safety first. Leave earphones at home so you’re able to pay attention to your surroundings. The path is never smooth, so as you run, look ahead of you on the trail for slippery roots and rocks.

By Myra Mahyuddin

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