Training for Mountain Races in the City

TNF Mountain Athletics

It’s a problem for many of us – you want to do interesting, hilly races in beautiful places but you live somewhere flat and urban. There are many ways round this and Run247 contributor, Pip Haylett, has been trying out one of them in preparation for running the Cortina Trail at Lavaredo: The North Face Mountain Athletics sessions in London. 

I have been training hard for the last few months, taking in a number of practice weekends in the hills, and doing what I can to train for a 48km run in the Dolomites, whilst working in London.

As well as training weekends running in Snowdonia, I’ve also had the pleasure of training with The North Face themselves.  Based out of their Covent Garden store, The North Face Never Stop London team run weekly Mountain Athletics training sessions, specifically designed for people training for outdoor activities.  A typical session starts with a briefing in the store, then short run along the Strand to Green Park for some mobility and warm up drills.  Then the fun begins, with functional training focused on ‘the outdoors’, delivered by Ed, Matt and Emily, supported by Jack and Yvette.  Specific upper body work for climbing, lower body focused work for trail running (or skiing / snowboarding in the winter), it’s a real mix of targeted exercises that will leave even the hardiest of legs with some DOMS over the following days.

Having done many outdoor sessions in my time, I find this is much more of a personalised training session than a boot camp, although there are often 30 – 50 people there, you are all looked after by the team and given the right amount of focus depending on experience levels and ability.  The sessions are all progressive, with the aim of getting everyone ready for life outside of the city.

Organised by The North Face Community Managers, the #neverstoplondon team not only provide these London park based training sessions, but also organise weekend trail runs, climbing and bouldering sessions at the various climbing walls around the city, workshops (on everything outdoors, from trail running technique through to cooking in the wild) and some athlete talks and events too.

Jack Atkinson, athlete, photographer and Never Stop London Community Manager says:

“The aim of the Never Stop London program is simply to help people get out of the city and experience sport in the great outdoors. It’s very easy to get trapped within the beast that is the M25 but the reality is it’s very easy to escape. We help people train for those escapes, show them what adventure possibilities there are and then also introduce them to a community of like-minded people”.

They have definitely succeeded, judging by the number of participants at all the events they host.  The training and most (if not all) of the events are provided for free, and has inspired many 100’s of people to get out and mix things up a bit. From people that have struggled to run a mile in the initial training sessions but have been out on a 9 mile+ trail run within 6 months, to people who have gone on to run ultra marathons.

The training, and whole ethos of the Never Stop London project is a great compliment to the North Face brand.  As Jack says:

“All our events are inclusive and we try our best to cater for as many people as possible to simply get more people outside.”

Lavaredo UT 17
Lavaredo Ultra Trail 2017

As a lot of the team will be out in Cortina for the Lavaredo race this weekend, there will be a fair amount of friendly competition, and many North Face inspired runners, myself included, will be getting involved.

The free training sessions run from the Covent Garden North Face store, 30 Southampton Street, London.

You can register for them via Eventbrite, and find more information on the Facebook page here.

See our preview of Lavaredo here.