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Run longer and stronger with tips from trail-phenom Priscilla Forgie

Forgie's tips apply to everyone, from new runners to those with decades of experience

Priscilla Forgie/Near Death Marathon 2022

Priscilla Forgie wants you to be more flexible. She doesn’t mean you should hit a yoga class–Forgie says adding versatility to her running routine has allowed her to master the art of listening to her body, elevating her performance.

If you aren’t familiar with Forgie after this year’s ultratrail season, consider this your update: the Edmonton-based athlete has had a record-breaking year, winning almost every race she has entered and demolishing course records at the Near Death Marathon (where she also was the overall winner) and Squamish 50/50. She’s also fairly new to the ultratrail scene, and is open about the setbacks and learning curve she’s experienced so far.

“When I discovered I had a stress fracture in January, I realized I hadn’t truly been listening to what my body needed,” she says. Forgie says that the key to optimizing her running this year was taking preventive action to care for her body in her day-to-day life, becoming more flexible with training and mileage. Here’s what Forgie suggests you try, so that you, too, can break personal barriers and crush your goals, all while staying healthy.

Priscilla Forgie training 2022
Photo courtesy of Priscilla Forgie

Have flexibility in your training plan

Forgie says the key is opening ourselves up to the possibility of not sticking to a regimented training schedule. “I can appreciate that a training plan can help hold us accountable and keep us motivated,” she says, “but no plan can take into account the complexities of our everyday lives and what our bodies are asking for.” While Forgie doesn’t follow a  strict plan, she acknowledges that it works for some people, and suggests that runners try to remain adaptable.

Forgie suggests making the change from a km/day goal, and instead giving yourself a distance or time range to shoot for each day, adjusting throughout the week as needed. “This allows us the opportunity to rest when needed and free up time if life gets in the way,” she says.

Priscilla Forgie 2022 Prairie Mountain Alta.
Photo courtesy of Priscilla Forgie

Get comfortable with switching things up

Forgie says this is particularly important for your key workouts. “You want your body to be feeling its best during these sessions, so pushing through speedwork after a lousy sleep will not help you reach your goals,” she explains. If you have a challenging workout planned but are feeling under the weather, far better to head out for an easy run or take a recovery day, and do the speedwork when you’re well rested.

Another form of switching it up that Forgie loves: hit the trails instead of running hill repeats or road-based speedwork. While trails are where Forgie’s passion lies, they’re a great addition to any runner’s repertoire. “Who doesn’t need more trail time?” she says.

schedule with coffee
Photo: Unsplash/Estee Janssens

Tap into your inner couch potato

“A huge part of listening to our bodies is recognizing when we need rest,” says Forgie, adding that it’s likely more often than a lot of us allow. She suggests following the 80/20 rule (keeping 80 per cent of your workouts easy, 20 per cent hard). “Letting our bodies recover with good food, sleep, and slow miles will result in our bodies thanking us later,” she says.

With so many athletes reporting stress fractures or being diagnosed with RED-S, recovery is something every runner should personally focus on.

Woman resting on couch
Photo: Unsplash/Inside Weather

Try running doubles (but not Ingebrigtsen-style)

Forgie advocates breaking up a long-run session into a double. “Double run days are my favourite,” she says. “Doing this gives your body a bit of a break, frees up some time in your schedule, and definitely helps when you’re really ramping up those kilometres in peak weeks.” Doubling has made headlines recently due to its popularity among elite athletes like Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who will run two hard training sessions in a single day. Forgie’s format is a gentler version, a way to adapt a long workout, or to increase mileage when training for a big race.

Being open to trying new things in your running schedule is a fantastic idea for all of us, and Forgie’s success on the trails demonstrates how well it has been working for her.

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