Low winter mileage works for UTMB champ D'Haene

French mountain runner explains his mixed-training approach

François D'Haene after winning the UTMB (pic: UTMB/Franck Oddoux)

François D'Haene after winning the UTMB (pic: UTMB/Franck Oddoux)

Top mountain runner François D'Haene reveals low winter mileage is key to keeping him fresh for the start of the winter season.

The Frenchman, who beat Kilian Jornet to win last year's Ultra Trail du Tour de Mont Blanc, explained in recent interview with Trail Running (published in the April/May issue - out in shops now) that he packs in plenty of alternative training around his home in the Alps.

“During winter I try to not run a lot, maybe once a week,” François says. “I do something different, like ski-alps or cross-country ski. It’s very interesting training. It’s different as you don’t think trail running. Because I don’t run a lot I’m really fresh at the beginning of the season.”

Between December and March he skis three to seven times a week. During the rest of the year he ups his running, combining it with cycling, but he’s still not covering huge distances. “In terms of kilometres it’s not a lot,” he says. “I can be eight hours in the mountains and do just 25km.”

It’s hard to criticise this approach. Not only did François cover the UTMB’s 167km in 19hr 1min, more than 15 minutes in front of runner-up Jornet, he also beat twice-champion Xavier Thévenard, recent Ultra Trail 100-mile champion Tim Tollefson and the exciting new prospect Jim Walmsley.

Last year was an excellent one for François, who also broke the record for the famous 359 km John Muir Trail in California. You can view a new video of this amazing effort below.