Mountain or street?

Buenos Aires Marathon 2014

Buenos Aires Marathon 2014

Yanacocha, Pichincha Ecuador

The difference between mountain running and street running is huge.


For El Cruce Columbia 100k or the Northface Ultratrail 50k I was ready to sleep on the floor, get muddy and scratched from branches. However, the day before a street marathon I am “untouchable”, unable to step over water or to sleep uncomfortable.


It’s hard to keep the pace on the street. You have to concentrate on the rhythm even if there are runners with you in your lane or shoulder to shoulder. Even if the crowds are screaming.

Into the woods, your mind wanders, gets relaxed. Running in the street, among lots of people, makes you collapse if you do not get into a rhythmical mantra. Everything can be annoying and can remove your power. In the forest, every branch that you touch loads you with strength and the wind refreshes you. If you stop to jump a ditch, you recover vitality and it even makes you smile.


The altitude is the hard part when running into the mountains. The almost vertical slope in the kilometer 33 at my last Ultra, was the ultimatum for my body. Even with the landscape, the perfume of the forest, the solitude and the singing birds.


In the asphalt if you see a stone, you want to skip it, and that small thought is exhausting. If you step on it, it hurts a lot and if you move aside, your strength leaves you for some seconds… or forever.


The combination of both skills is the key: two mega events that make you strong. It takes a complete Saturday when training in the hills, and just 3 hours and a half in the 32K of the marathon training longest run.


In trail running, minutes are important, but in the street, seconds are decisive. One second more per kilometer and you lose Boston or a podium, or your legendary opponent arrives first.

When you reach the finish line of a trailrunning race, your position is relative. If you make a podium it is not by a head, it is for several minutes.


What you take to the mountain is another big difference with what you take to a street run:

  •  8 pounds Backpack versus a hydration belt, or nothing
  • Buff vs. cap, or nothing
  • Poles vs. absolutely nothing


The last time I ran in the mountain, I recover my energy with a tuna sandwich and a coke. That is impossible in the course of the 42 kilometers… you can have a piece of banana, and your gels and water taste terrible.

Completely different… However RECOVERY is pretty much the same in both disciplines.

If you start trailrunning, it is not fun to get back to the boring street. But it is necessary to switch both because resistance makes you lose speed. An example is Franklin Tenorio, leader of many important street races, more than 40 marathons and an Olympic athlete. He ventured recently into mountain running and thanks to his experience, quality and speed in track, has won the latest versions of Ultra-trail (80K Northface).

by Lourdes Hernández


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