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Training tips for The Rut




Every year, thousands of runners from around the world descend on Big Sky Resort to compete in The Rut Mountain Runs, and tackle some of the toughest terrain in the world. Many of the courses—which include a 50K, 28K, Vertical K, 11K and a child’s race—take racers to the top of Lone Peak at 11,166 feet.

For the many regional competitors in Big Sky and beyond, The Mountain Project in Bozeman—the official training gym of The Rut—has shared some tips on how to prepare for this September’s race.

Train with specificity and purpose. Focus on spending time on your feet and vertical gain and descent rather than building up to a total mileage. When it comes to mountain running, accumulating multiple hours on your feet running and hiking in terrain specific to your race is vital. Get used to hiking up steep, rocky terrain, hammering the quads on steep descents, and running along technical, exposed ridgelines.

Train your gut as you would your body. Though it varies for every runner, a general rule of thumb is to eat 100-200 calories of quick-digesting carbohydrates (gels, gummies, candy, etc.) every 45-60 minutes for events lasting longer than one hour. For events lasting longer than four hours, try to incorporate more whole foods like tortilla with honey and banana, peanut butter and jelly, and white rice with salt. And don’t forget about hydration and electrolytes. We need to replenish everything we sweat out, especially sodium. Practice eating and drinking the way you will on race day and figure out what works and what doesn’t. Your stomach adapts and becomes stronger just as your body does.

Incorporate strength-training to build strength, durability, and prevent injury. Aim for 45 minutes to an hour of strength exercises one-to-two times per week leading up to The Rut. Focus on core, single leg work, eccentric leg exercises, and glute and hip stability. If you haven’t been doing strength work regularly, reach out to a professional trainer and begin with a light regimen so your muscles have time to adapt and can stay fresh during your daily runs.

Don’t forget about recovery. Training hard leads to adaptation but without proper rest and recovery, your training will plateau and eventually decline. Depending on your level of fitness, include one-to-two rest days per week that focus on stretching and mobility. Incorporate lighter, recovery weeks—less time on your feet, sleeping more, eating nourishing, whole foods—into your training every four-to-six weeks to give your body a break and prevent burnout.

Stay consistent. ‘Nuff said.

Train the mind to become comfortable with the uncomfortable. Anything can happen in a mountain race. You’ll float through being in the flow to enduring some Type 2 Fun—suffering through the present, but smiling about it after. Accept that you won’t be able to control everything—except your mindset. Leading up to The Rut, train your mind, just as you do your body, to endure the lows to get to the highs. Go into race day with a positive attitude and your body will follow.

Above all else … have fun, work hard, and enjoy being in the mountains.

If you need guidance with your training or have questions, contact Mike, Emily or Colleen at The Mountain Project. Visit for more information. Visit for details about the 2018 race.

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