Living in Alberta you get a vast outdoor playground to adventure in. Everything from mountain biking, hiking, camping in the summer to snowshoeing and ice skating in the winter. This really is a great place to live if you like enjoying the outdoors all seasons of the year

One activity that isn’t too well known, but living in Alberta presents a tremendous amount of options is trail running. Trail running through the endless amounts of valleys, mountains, and foothills seems like a no brainer for the large portion of people who enjoy running. However this is still a relatively new activity that a local Edmonton entrepreneur has decided to tap into.

We were lucky enough to come across Mountain Stride Fitness, a company that offers coaching and plant-based nutrition counselling to runners in Edmonton. In the summer months they run trail running retreats in the Canadian Rockies. The company was started by NAIT graduate, Patrick Sperling who saw a need for specific running coaches and trainers that worked with runners in the Edmonton fitness community. He then decided to expand on this need by offering trail running retreats in the Canadian Rockies as well. Patrick is also a passionate vegan who likes to share a plant-based nutrition diet with his clients.

Throughout his childhood Patrick was focused on volleyball, and then in his early twenties he started playing in a band. When he was in the band he started to go down a dark path that led him to using drugs and alcohol. Mix that in with a poor diet, and he noticed he was headed to a bad place.

One day he woke up put on his shirt, and went for a run. This is when he decided he needed to make a change to his lifestyle. He wasn’t this gifted runner from an early age. It was inspiring to hear him mention that he would simply “put a sweatsuit on like Rocky in the winter, and I could barely run around the block”.

Coming from a non-running background he now boasts an impressive resume by having competed in college cross-country events, and placing well in mountain ultra races across Canada. His story truly is inspiring and shows that anyone can become a runner.

Here are a few tips from Patrick for aspiring trail runners:

  1. Shoes

Getting specific trail running shoes is important for beginners, and will help you adjust better to your surroundings. Patrick recommends Fast Trax Run Shop in Edmonton because they will be able to help you with what shoes will work best for you.

  1. Sense of Adventure

You need to have a sense of adventure. You don’t need to be an expert, you just have to be willing to try the experience.

  1. Pace

Trail running is different than road running so your pace isn’t as important. The trail is usually hilly and bumpy, so running with your momentum and just going by effort will give you a much better experience.

  1. It’s OK to walk

Doing a brisk walk or hike up a section is allowed and usually the better way to do it. Don’t feel like you have to run the whole way, and doing a walk in a steeper section can actually recharge you to go faster during a flat section or downhill.

  1. Downhill running is a skill

You are going to encounter some downhill stretches so it’s important to focus, and practice going downhill. It’s not easy and takes skill, so try and work at this as it will make trail running more enjoyable.


For more information on services offered by Mountain Stride Fitness and the locations of their running retreats in 2016 make sure to check out


By Clinton Senkow

Photo Credit : Patrick Sperling