Training for Successful Trail Running

Training for Successful Trail Running
Trail running is a great way to get in superior shape and see the beauty of nature all in one outing. The goal is to run effortlessly along the trails, taking in the sights and sounds of nature around you. With a few simple training strategies, you'll be able to train successfully for trail running and enjoy many hours safely on the trails.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Preparation Off the Trails

Things You’ll Need:
  • Trail running shoes Run-specific workout clothes Hydration pack or water bottle belt
  • Trail running shoes
  • Run-specific workout clothes
  • Hydration pack or water bottle belt
Step 1
You should preferably have a good base of running mileage. If you are new to running, do a combination of running and walking on the trails until you can comfortable run continuously.
Step 2
Start a strength training regimen. Agility and strength are an important part of trail running. Begin with simple squats, core body exercises and some upper body work like push-ups. It doesn't have to be fancy, just effective.
Step 3
Gather your gear for the trail work. Make sure that you have quality trail running shoes, run-specific workout wear, hydration gear, hats and eyewear. The right gear will keep you comfortable and safe.
Step 4
Train with friends whenever possible. If you can't train with others on the trail, then be sure to let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.

Hill Training

Step 1
Know that hill training is essential for successful trail running and will greatly improve your aerobic capacity. Sudden grade changes and long steep inclines and declines will be a new experience for you.
Step 2
Keep in mind that hill repeats are a great way to get started with hill training. Find a hill between one-quarter to a half-mile long and do interval repeats on them. Run up to the top and jog back down. Start with five and work your way up to 10 repeats a session. Hill repeats will get you in shape fast and are best for the beginning of a racing/running season. Do them once a week.
Step 3
As your endurance improves, add a long hill of several miles or more to your training routine. Long hills will teach you how to conserve energy and use only what you need. They will test and further improve your aerobic capacity.

Endurance Training

Step 1
Understand that long slow runs are the mainstay of endurance training. Doing long slow runs are a joy on the trail. Do a long run once a week, or if you're training for ultras do a very long run once every two weeks.
Step 2
Know the length of your long runs depends on how far you want to go if you are racing. You can run over distance in training for anything up to a marathon. But for a marathon and beyond, long runs of about 30 miles leading up to your chosen event are probably the maximum that you should do.
Step 3
Run at an easy pace. You should be able to carry on a conversation with your running partner if you're running with others.
Step 4
If you are not racing, your long runs can be your goal runs, or your adventure runs.

Speed Training

Step 1
If you are not planning on racing, you need never do speed work if you don't want to. It will help you run faster and increase your endurance though. You should start with one speed session a week.
Step 2
Remember that track intervals off of the trail are good for developing leg speed. If you choose to do track intervals, only do them once a week, as they are very intense.
Step 3
Keep in mind that Fartleks are the speed workout of choice off the track. Basically you run for a set time at speed and jog/rest for a set time. Start with 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off five times. As you get fitter you should increase the length of your speed workout and number of repetitions.
Step 4
Know that tempo runs are long sustained efforts at just below race pace. They are the best workout to prepare you for race conditions, both mentally and physically.

To Race or Not to Race

Step 1
Keep in mind that you don't need to enter trail races to be a trail runner. You can happily enjoy the trails on your own or with friends without ever entering a race.
Step 2
Know that trail races do offer a supported run. At most you'll find well-stocked aid stations along the way. You will also have the opportunity to meet other like-minded outdoors folk.
Step 3
You can test your fitness through racing and measure your improvement over time. Try one and you may find a new favorite pastime.

Tips & Warnings

 
Rest is important to your training. Be sure to get one to two days off of training a week. Make sure that your shoes are in good condition. Don't run in worn out shoes. Running races can be a great way to meet new friends and running partners.
 
Rest is important to your training. Be sure to get one to two days off of training a week.
 
Make sure that your shoes are in good condition. Don't run in worn out shoes.
 
Running races can be a great way to meet new friends and running partners.
 
Don't run too much mileage too fast. Build up slowly. Don't do too much intense speed work at first. It could lead to injury and burnout. Use hill training to help build your endurance.
 
Don't run too much mileage too fast. Build up slowly.
 
Don't do too much intense speed work at first. It could lead to injury and burnout.
 
Use hill training to help build your endurance.

Article Written By Tanya Wyr

Tanya Wyr has 12 years experience as a professional writer and editor both in print and online. She has written for major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Macy’s and Mervyns. Wyr has also edited college-level textbooks. Wyr earned a B.A. in political science from the University of Minnesota in 1991.

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