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Chamonix Trail Running Advice
Introduction to training
Training preparations
Types of exercise to consider

Icicle training planners
UK fell running weekends

Trail running advice
Alpine trail running summer
Alpine trail running winter
Trail running courses
Advice from real experts...
All of our trail running guiding team live in the Alps, and participate in trail races on a regular basis. Their running and guiding experiences make them ideally positioned to advice you well, whilst you are out in the Alps. Some of the guiding team are also sponsored for trail running.
  North Face Ultra Trail...
Each year Chamonix welcomes thousands of ultra trail runners from all over the world to compete in the infamous Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. The UTMB starts in Chamonix, and makes a full circuit of Mont Blanc,
with over 9000m of vertical height gain, and a total distance of 170km. It is no small wonder that this race is one of the hardest ultra trails in the world, and why it fills up so quickly with runners each year. The photo above is of one of our guiding team crossing the line at 06:00am to finish the UTMB CCC race. To help runners prepare for the UTMB races, North Face and Overstim teamed up to produce a brilliant set of short films on a variety of important facets of training and preparation. Click on any of the films below to watch the episode.

"Get Ready For" UTMB presentation from OVERSTIM.s on Vimeo.

UTMB Muscle building for trail races from OVERSTIM.s on Vimeo.

UTMB Food in run up to the race from OVERSTIM.s on Vimeo.

UTMB Improving your speed from OVERSTIM.s on Vimeo.

UTMB Hill training for trail races from OVERSTIM.s on Vimeo.

UTMB What equipment to take from OVERSTIM.s on Vimeo.

UTMB Food during the race itself from OVERSTIM.s on Vimeo.

UTMB Running during the night from OVERSTIM.s on Vimeo.

Minimum environmental impact ...
Trail running events have traditionally been critisised for their environmental impact, the pollution of travelling to the event, the mountains of drinks cups and water bottles. We run our trail running courses with the aim of minimum environmental impact. We carry rubbish out off the mountain, and use public transport where possible.
Trail running advice; training & kit...
It is generally agreed that trail running is a lot better on the bones joints, than road running on the flat, yet you get all the same benefits of improved fitness, aerobic indurance, and weight loss too.
As trail running is over a variety of terrain and gradients, most trail runners do not suffer typical road running injuries and conditions, such as shin splints and knee problems.
Whilst the benefits of trail running are clear to see, it is essential that you have suitable footwear. Unlike road running, where it is generally flat and on the same surface, trail runs involve you running and jumping on all sorts of uneven terrain, with a wide variety of surfaces underfoot from wet grass to scree and mud.
You should ensure that your trail running shoes offer you the correct level of support as well as suitable levels of traction, so that you don't slide about. Another factor to consider in the choice of trail running shoe, is that they suit your stride length. Some people lope uphill with long strides, whereas others really shorten their stride and run in a compact style.
Never neglect the details in the clothing you select. As everyone who has ever run in a bad pair of socks can testify, no matter how good the shoe, the choice of socks is crucial too.
Ensure that you wear technical wicking base layers on your upper body to protect you from the UV of the sun, to transport moisture away from the skin, and to cover you in case of a fall or slide.
Trail running is famed for the development of lower leg (calf) strength, as well as increasing your core strength and balance too. The varied terrain ensures that you use your stomach musles, ankles, feet and achilles tendons in a variety of positions and movements, which ensures more rounded training, and less risk of RSI style injuries through repetative movement.
The variety of movement is responsible for more holistic and rounded muscle development, than road running, which is useful if you undertake a variety of other sports too.
In terms of diet and hydration whilst on a trail run, we advise electrolyte laden powders that can be added to your hydration system (bottle or bladder systems). Everyone has their prefered energy foods, such as bananas, energy gels, trail mix, or over Savoyard sausage. Whatever works. The key is to stop the blood sugar level drops, and to take on enough fluids to ensure the sugars can be broken down too.
Selection of summer trail routes...
Montenvers to the Plan d'Aiguille - this is one of our favourites, and you really feel you are in the mountains. You take the mountain railway up to Montenvers and the glacier of the Mer de Glace, then the trail ascends to the high point at Signal Forbes. From here you follow the Gran Balcon Nord across towards Plan d'Aiguille.
Nid d'Aigle (Eagle's Nest) to Les Houches - to discover the Western side of Mont Blanc opens a different panorama, and the run from the high mountain railway station at Nid d'Aigle descends towards Bellvue via Mont Lachat. You can extend the run towards Le Prarion, or follow some tracks to reach Les Houches.
Argentiere to Barberine - this run is the best for staying relatively low on forest and alpage tracks, exploring the two valleys of Chamonix and Vallorcine, as well as crossing the watershed at the Col des Montets. This run can be shortened or lengthened to suit how you feel on the day.
Col des Montets to Planpraz - if you are after a longer run, this is quite a tough one. At first the trail is flat, then it ascends steeply to the Flegere ski area, before a wonderful balcony run across to Planpraz. The wise can even opt to start this run at Flegere, and just enjoy the run across to Planpraz or Brevent.
The Italian Val Veny and Val Ferret - for an international feel, why not escape to Italy for a day and run along the valley floors of either the Val Veny or Ferret. At the end of each valley is a hut (Elizabetta or Elena), and you can return by a different trail to return to your starting point.
Chamonix Petit Balcon's & River Trail - an absolute classic that starts in Chamonix centre and ascends through the forests to Argentiere, then returns along the track beside the Arve river. Still a technical run in terms of tree roots and rocky trails, but nice on hot days, as it is mainly in the shade.
Selection of winter trail routes...
Vallorcine and Les Granges - there are hundreds of snowshoe trails that lead through the woods, and the route can be tailored to how far and how high you would like to go. An absolute gem.
Italian Val Ferret - this is a classic snowshoe running trail from Planpincieux to Lavachey and for those undaunted by a steep hill climb, up to the Bonatti refuge at just over 2000m.
Lavencher and Tines Circuit - a favourite forest trail route in the Chamonix region passing through small villages that have remained untouched by time, and offer a real flavour of how Chamonix used to be.
UTMB films ...
If you would like to see what the North Face Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc actually involves, then you can click on one of the reconnaisance training run films below. The full circuit has been split into four sections from Chamonix to Chapieux, then to Courmayeur, Champex, and finally back to Chamonix at the end. The race normally starts at 18:30pm in Chamonix, and the quickest runners finish in just under 24 hours, after running through one night and a full day. The last finishers will have run two nights and two days before the 48 hour cut off time.
If you would like to read more about our trail running exploits, click on the RSS logo to the right, to launch our Alpine trail running blog posts.

UTMB Part 1 Chamonix - Chapieux from OVERSTIM.s on Vimeo.

UTMB Part 2 Chapieux - Courmayeur from OVERSTIM.s on Vimeo.

UTMB Part 3 Courmayeur - Champex from OVERSTIM.s on Vimeo.

UTMB Part 4 Champex - Chamonix from OVERSTIM.s on Vimeo.

Our range of running trips
Alpine Trails
Lake District

Alpine Trail
Week Summer

Intro Trail &
Fell Running

Trail Week
Lake District

UTMB recce weekend
1st time Ultra runners course

Alpine Trail
Week Winter
Lake District
night runner
Free resources

FREE Podcast
Getting into trail running...

Trail running is a fastgrowing sport, and this podcast explains what it involves, how to get into it, and also goes through all of the equipment that is required
Download podcast (3.76 MB)
See all the Icicle podcasts

FREE Resource - Fell &
Trail running kit list...

If you are planning on attending one of our trail running courses, you can see a kit check list of the clothing and equipment that we recommend you take.
Trail running kit advice page
Download the kit list here
Suggested reading and kit
Why choose our trips?
The photo above sums it up. All of these finisher jackets of the UTMB race series belong to our head running leader. We genuinely think that there is no other operator out there who is more credible!
There are several other operators who also offer trail running camps, and we aren't afraid to advertise that fact. Please look at their itineraries to see how they differ from ours.
We don't offer talks from 'celebrity' runners, or go in for the chardonnay in a hot tub 'lifestyle', or quasi-scientific courses. Ours are run by people who do it, not talk the talk.
The effect on our prices is that we can offer you great value. We genuinely believe that you'll spend more time actually running and in the mountains on our courses, than with anyone else.
Anyone who is leading you will be a finisher of one of the iconic trail races, such as the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, Tor du Geants or Leadville or WS100.

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