Ultra Trail: Learn to Run at Night
With the sun setting shortly after 8:30 pm at the end of August, and dawn coming after 7:00 am, those racing the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc know the night, they’ll spend nearly eighteen hours in the dark. So whether you’re training for the race, or just trying to avoid the heat of the day, it’s essential in your training to run at night.
August 9 2018
18 hours in the darkness
Of course moving at night is not natural, lighting is crucial, but not only that. Most runners are not used to the physical and mental strain of running non-stop through the day and night. At night the body wants to sleep and regain its normal rhythm, but the needs of the trail require the racers to keep pushing. How do the racers prepare?
Training, practice, caffeine and headlamp
For Petzl Team member Clare Gallagher it comes to training, practice, caffeine, and a headlamp. With a fully charged REACTIVE lighting headlamp, her headlamp is able to prioritize either brightness or battery life by monitoring the ambient light around the runner. This gives her up to 300 lumens (in her REACTIK +) when she needs it but also feathers the battery as she looks down or at dusk. For her caffeine fix she has one go to, the sugary, sweet, caffeinated classic of Coca Cola.
The secret: train at night
But these tools only help the runner. Clare Gallagher spends a lot of time training at night. Her goal is to make running at night normal for her mind and body. The added care on the trail, the mental tunnel, and the added exhaustion of breaking the body’s natural rhythm are all factors in the race. "To train at night effectively you have to do it on trails, not on asphalt" explains Clare, who insists that her mood is her best tool: "we can not do anything to keep the sun from setting. So it’s best to keep up good morales despite the hour, we run better when the brain accepts it". Clare Gallagher also has her tricks to learn how to run better at night." Instead of running systematically at night in the evening, I try to do some big training in the mountains starting at three or four o'clock in the morning. This gives me the experience of nighttime running with the reward of getting to see the sunrise. It also lets me get my workout in before I go on with the rest of my day".