News & Updates
Jiang takes to skis for trail running preparations
In the hope of regaining her national trail running title in Christchurch on Sunday, 2018 women’s champion Nancy Jiang has taken the unorthodox method of ski touring in her quest to reach full fitness.
The 29-year-old former winner of the Kepler Challenge is one of the country’s leading ultra-distance runners and is a former New Zealand representative at both the World Mountain Running and World Trail Running Championships.
However, the Queenstown-based athlete was diagnosed with a vertical tendon tear and stress reaction to her left foot shortly after winning the 44km Mt Difficulty Ascent in June. This has caused a change in strategy ahead of the New Zealand Trail Running Championships, which are being contested as part of the 53km Crater Rim Ultra.
“I’d been dealing with an issue in my ankle for about two years which got progressively worse,” explains Jiang, who was raised in West Auckland.
“After running Mt Difficulty, the pain would just not go away and, after having an MRI scan, I was told I would not be able to run for two months or risk completely tearing my posterior tibial tendon, which holds the arch of my foot.”
Unable to run, Nancy sought alternative fitness work. She spent periods mountain biking but also regularly went ski touring, an uphill form of climbing on skis in which skins are attached to the bottom of the skis for grip.
Often Nancy would ski tour for between three and five hours, which helped build endurance without the same high level of impact on the body as running.
“Ski touring has really helped strengthen my glutes and hamstrings,” she explains. “I feel it has been beneficial and made me stronger.”
More recently she has re-integrated running back into her training programme but continues to ski tour and is eager to find out how she will perform at the Crater Rim event on Sunday, where she will face 2019 champion Mel Aitken among others.
“I don’t really have an expectation, I’m just curious to see how the alternative training has helped me,” adds Jiang, a structural engineer.
“I have not run the 53km distance since the injury, my longest run is around 25km, so I’m not sure how I will go over the longer distance, but Sunday will give me a good indication as where I’m at with my fitness.”
The 29-year-old, who two years ago took the New Zealand Trail Running title on the same Crater Rim course by a margin of more than 17 minutes, is a big fan of the course.
“It surprised me how beautiful the trails were, it was a really well organised event held in a spectacular environment with a great atmosphere,” she says.