From our blog
How to start trail running: tips for road runners
Want to go from sidewalks to switchbacks? Start with these beginner trail tips.
Whether you’re in week one of training for the Mont-Royal marathon or your first 5K, Beaver Lake is a nice place to start (and it’s easily accessible by metro). Once you get to the lake, you’ll have some good flat terrain to ease you into your run. If you want to up the ante a little, you can start on Peel Street from Peel Metro, which tacks on an extra 25 minutes and a bit of an uphill climb onto the beginning of your workout.
Take the stairs
Stair climbing strengthens your muscles and it’s also a killer cardio workout that’ll have you breaking a sweat in no time – the trip to the Belvedere summit has a daunting 256-step staircase.
Start at the George-Etienne Cartier statue at the north end of the park and take the Chemin Olmstead toward the summit. Shaving your time down as you train will have you fist-pumping like Rocky Balboa every time you reach the top. Plus, you can’t beat the city views.
You’ve probably noticed a ton of little side trails weaving their way up the mountain. They’re a great way to become better accustomed to different terrain. There’s not much signage off the beaten path, but everything eventually leads back to main arteries like the Chemin Olmstead Trail, so keep your GPS on and enjoy discovering new routes.
Push your limits
For a 12km route with lots of great stops through the park, start your run at the George-Etienne Cartier statue and head up the Olmstead switchbacks to Beaver Lake. From there you can make your way to the Mont Royal Chalet, then head past Smith House (Les Amis de la Montagne). It’s all downhill from there; the path through the cemetery is usually quieter than the main drag and there’s a green line on the ground you can follow right out of the park.
Follow your heart
When you’re tackling a park like Mount Royal, you’re likely going to be mixing a fair bit of trail running and road running – so be prepared to adjust your rhythm a little bit from the flatter city streets. The best way to do this is to follow your heart rate. Find where you’re able to maintain a steady pace and stay within that range. If that means dropping down to a walk during a steep climb like those crazy steps, don’t sweat it. It might be the saving grace that keeps you from pushing too hard too fast.
Do a trial run
One of the best ways to keep motivated when you’re training is to find people to run with. Join the MEC Montreal run crew to head out on routes in the park. The organizers for the Mont-Royal Marathon also host Discovery Runs on Sundays in the weeks leading up to the race. You’ll get a chance to follow a guide along some the routes that will be used on race day.