Pictures Courtesy of: Samuel Hung and Mit Sunimit
First post of the year, and hopefully not too late to wish you a Happy New Year.
Over the last week of 2019, I attended 5 days of running camp in Northern Thailand organised by Thailand Mountain Trail (TMT). It was advertised as ‘New Year Camp with Mira Rai’.
If you’ve seen SOTG’s Instagram, I’ve shared plenty of pictures on how beautiful the mountain ranges were and the hill tribes encountered.
I attended the running camp to build and improve endurance traits, get some elevation gains training and strengthen trail specific skills. The upcoming race is Victoria 162 in Hong Kong will reap dividends from this training.
Overall, it’s totally worth it from training perspective and money well spent. More importantly it’s impacted the local as we stayed at the village huts, a thumb up on being sustainable. If you are interested, the camp is to be held in this coming July – check the website for details.
Highlighted below are traits and skills I gained and came across:
I hardly train with poles, so sometimes it’s a bit odd to use in races (not a big fan of poles honestly). Therefore, during the training camp, I practised till I can comfortably run with it in good form.
I trained to use it efficiently and recognised usage when needed (such as constant steep uphill and slippery steep downhill). In segment that require both hands, I would keep the poles at rest.
As a trail runner, it is necessary to adapt to all variables that come the way and to respond intelligently to whatever surprises the trail or weather presented. Hoping over tree logs, crossing various streams, thorny bushes, edge section with ropes, wild jungle, the steep uphill and downhill. The second day trail was a bit slippery from heavy rainfall overnight.
Body management is also crucial such as proper refuelling, rehydrating, protecting skin and regulating body temperature.
Going downhill was an issue due to my ankle injury. Therefore, I had to adapt accordingly. Apparently, while the joint seemed to heal the ligament not being well treated through rehab, advised Dave Lee, a physio who was also one of the runner.
To be an an adaptable trail runner, I have to keep an open mind, project ahead, be flexible and always on problem-solving mode.
I am relatively agile at transitioning from the hike to run, or run to hike, or from downhill to run on flat.
However, agility on technical terrain especially downhill without the fear of falling or tripping on tree roots and rocks still need some practice.
The elite group (led by Chiang Mai based trail runner, Cash who originally hail from Aruba), comprised of Mira Rai, Japanese’s Wataru Lino, Brunei based runner Michael McLean and few other fast runners. They seemed to float swiftly and gracefully over roots and rocks when running downhill. No fear, no over thinking – simply skilful and gutsy.
On the other spectrum, I need better footing, fast landing, better eye co-ordination and let gravity take charge. Of course, a good form is required when going downhill to reduce the falling impact.
Endurance and Elevation
In total, I built endurance over 5 days of 135km with 7,300 elevation gain. About 6 to 8 hours spent daily on feet (except Day 5 much quicker). We stopped at one checkpoint each day (except on the longest Day 4 where we savoured some local delicacies) and to catch some breathe over stunning view.
Living at sea-level, I had to adjust my breathing when reached higher ground on Day 1 but thankfully I felt better onwards.
- Day 1: 25km, 1300 metres of elevation gain
- Day 2: 29km, 1900 metres of elevation gain
- Day 3: 21km, 1100 metres of elevation gain (transition day with more running)
- Day 4: 35km, 1800 metres of elevation gain
- Day 5: 25km, 1200 metres of elevation gain (short day with plenty of running)
I believe that grit and mental toughness can be cultivated through simplicity and roughness in life. Not through the comfort of life and smart city living. This was the essence through the training camp. We slept on a basic mattress and the hut/camping site came with toilet/shower facility without modern flush or hot water.
On the second night, we had the opportunity to watch the award-winning movie called Mira: the story of a spirited Nepali village girl. It was about her journey to become a world-recognised mountain runner. Her ‘disadvantage’ life of walking for 2 days to get supplies for her family led her to be a minor soldier which in turn, blossomed into an inspiring world-class trail runner.
For the next 3 days, the running spirit was higher possibly from the movie influence. It could also be from having Mira who opted running with our group – her humbleness, yet energetic and youthful will continue to positively impact us directly or indirectly. Whatever future behold for her, wishing her the best!
I was relieved and delighted to make it all in one piece after we finished the training on Day 5.
In next post, I will share January training build-up to Victoria 162 race. And if you are planning to sign up, I have a 20% discount for any distance. Valid till 15th Jan 2020.
Leaving you with more smiles and fun memories at the Thailand Mountain Trail. Check out pictures below.
Big appreciation to our guide Mit (4 Days) and Cash (Day 5). All the love and gratitude to TMT team from chef to the mastermind! Thank you to all runners – we surely learned a great deal from each other on running and life in general.
Live to thrive.