As trail running holidays are quite different from most other package holidays, we understand that you may have a lot of questions as a result. You can read more about how our self-guided holidays work here, however we have also answered some more specific queries below regarding how to prepare for your multi-day trail run, what you should take with you and how to recover and rest afterwards. Click the links below for more information, or you can contact us if your query isn't covered here.

Ideal trail running shoe

Ideal trail running shoe

We strongly recommend you make sure you have a pair of well-fitting running trainers. For routes with two or three star ratings for terrain underfoot, wear trail, off-road or fell trainers.

Whatever the route, make sure you bring trainers you have run in before.

We suggest that you bring multiple pairs along. This is not simply to give you something else to wear in case one pair gets exceptionally wet or starts to wear out. Carrying multiple pairs allows you to change your footwear based on the type of running the day brings.

Learn more about trail running shoes:

Kit List

Kit List

What you wear while running will depend heavily both on the weather conditions and on the terrain you are covering. Given the potential for these to change during the day, we recommend that you layer your clothes. This way you can add or remove layers to control temperature and add weatherproofing as necessary.

In addition to this flexibility, layering traps air between your clothes. As air is a poor conductor of heat, this aids insulation against the cold. Because of this, two thin layers are likely to keep you warmer than one thick one.

Read about the ideal running wardrobe

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© Chaberton marathon 2010

What to carry on the trail

Unless the weather is looking particularly inclement, you should be able to get all you need into a small (10 litre) rucksack or even a bum bag. Whatever the weather, we would recommend that you carry:

  • A spare top in case the weather turns or you need to slow down
  • Contours trail notes
  • Phone
  • Money
  • At least some emergency food (even if you are planning to stop and buy food on the way)
  • Drinking bottle/bladder
  • Map

Depending on the conditions and time you are going to be out, you should also consider:

  • Wind/waterproof top and bottoms
  • Hat and gloves
  • Food to eat during the day
  • Whistle and compass
  • Small first aid kit
  • Lightweight poles
  • Head torch or torch

Preparing for a Multi-Day Trail Run

With mileage targets to meet consistently over multiple days, a long-distance running holiday has a challenging element to it, which is best approached with knowledge and forethought.

Training beforehand

The amount of training required will be dependent on which Contours Trail Running Holiday you have chosen and how many days you are taking to run it.

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As a rule of thumb, you should be used to running regularly on multiple days per week. In training, you should be able to run at least 80% of the daily mileage in one go.

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Once you've started

Unless you want it to be, your Contours trail running holiday is not a race. Pushing yourself too fast on the first couple of days should be avoided - especially if you are planning on doing a trip of five days or longer. Take your time to ease yourself into the event.

On a similar note, make sure you set off steadily at the start of each day. Over the first couple of miles, slowly increase your pace up to cruising. Do not try to set off at your optimal pace from the word go. This is more important than doing stretching or other exercises.

Likewise, ease your pace as you near the end of each day. Use the last mile to slow down gradually and finish at near walking pace.

This changes if you are trying to get a Strava time, of course! If you plan on running hard right to the end, build in a little more easy recovery running after you finish.

There are likely to be parts of the route, mainly the uphill ones, where you may want to walk. Don't worry about doing so. Even the best fell runners tend to walk up steep hills, and often find they are quicker doing so.

The most important thing is that you set a pace and effort level that is comfortable for you - a pace you know you can keep achieving for the length of the holiday.

Keeping hydrated

Most runners will want to have drinks with them while they are running. These can be carried in bottles or a camelback system.

On less-isolated trails, you can plan to pick up drinks at shops along the way. On the more remote runs it may be possible to drink from nearby streams, but always remember there is a risk of picking up a stomach bug from doing this.

If you decide to carry drinks then you have a range of options, from water to making up a sports drink (or buying a pre-made product).

Matching sports drinks to your needs

Sports drinks come in different guises depending on the amount of carbohydrate/energy they provide. There are three types.

  • Hypertonic. These are more concentrated than normal body fluids. While this type of drink provides more energy with less to carry, the higher concentration tends to slow down absorption.

  • Isotonic. These have the same concentration as body fluids, providing both fuel and fluid at the same time.

  • Hypotonic. These are less concentrated than body fluids and tend to be better when fluid replacement is the priority.

In most circumstances, an isotonic drink (which contains 4-8 per cent carbohydrate or 4-8 g per 100 ml) is best when exercising if you want to take in both fluid and fuel, although in the heat you may want a lower concentration to help increase the rate of absorption.

If it is fluid replacement that is key, then a hypotonic drink should be used. The added electrolytes and sugar in this mean it is absorbed faster than plain water.

Hydration goals

It is unrealistic in endurance events to expect complete fluid replacement while exercising. Rather, you're aiming to limit fluid losses.

We also know from scientific studies that there is a limit to how much fluid can be absorbed from the gut: around 800-1200 ml per hour in normal conditions.

Ideally you should have some idea of how much you need to drink. Base this on whether you are a heavy sweater or not and the likely temperature during the day.

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© Erik Ogan

Recovering from a day's run

The most important thing to do once you have finished running for the day is to start the recovery for tomorrow.

First, get yourself into warm, dry kit. As soon as you stop running, you start to chill, even on mild or warm days. Standing around in damp kit has the potential to increase the risk of picking up a cold or similar due to a weakened immune system - not what you want at the start of a week's running holiday!

Secondly, aim to consume a mix of 50g carbohydrate and 10g protein in the first 30 minutes after exercise. This is the time when our bodies are most receptive to starting the internal recovery process. Eating replenishes our glycogen stores, replaces fluids and electrolytes, and repairs muscle damage.

Thirdly, aim to drink 150% of the liquid you have lost during the day over the next five to six hours. This should not just be water but should contain small amounts of electrolytes (in particular sodium) both to enhance absorption and to replace those lost during exercise.

Further information

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