You are here
Home > Endurance Athletes > Endurance Hour: The Benefits of Trail Running

Endurance Hour: The Benefits of Trail Running

Trail running offers elements of stability of the core and hips and incorporates all aspects of running fitness:  technique, endurance, strength, threshold and speed. It can help you run faster, longer, and more efficiently.  
Trail running provides a softer surface than road running and you will be less prone to injuries that are created running on a hard surface. If you increase your strength, you’ll also increase your joint stability, reducing your risk of repetitive stress injuries.

Technique: Running uphill allows you to focus on knee lift and foot strike underneath your body.  Heel to butt and forward lean on the descents and faster leg cadence running slight downhill grade. Shorter strides, a faster stride rate and mid-foot landing requires less energy and allows for faster acceleration than heel-toe running with longer strides.

Sample workout: WU: 10 minutes ending at a hill that will take you at least 2 minutes to climbThen run 4X60″ up hill. Just run as hard as you can for 60″ heart rate will range from zone 2-4. Try to go a little farther up the hill each time. RI jog down. Then run 4X 60” downhill focus on fast legs. RI: walk uphill for recovery.CD: 10 minute jog back to starting point

Endurance: If you are on unfamiliar territory, you are more likely to want to go explore nature and your surroundings. Spending time in nature can give a person a spiritual connection.

Sample workout: Just run. Learn to negotiate your pace based on the varied terrain, hiking uphill will target muscles that you don’t normally target while running on the road and will want to go exploring and probably run further cause of it.

Strength: Most trail running involves high levels of elevation gain so you can incorporate hill repeats or just run over a hilly course while focusing on form. The elements such as rocks and tree roots will help you with knee lift and landing midfoot.

Sample workout: WU: 10-20 minutes ending at the base of a hillMS: 4X 6 minute uphill at about 4-6% graded hill focus on technique and paceJog back down for recoveryCD: 10 min easy

Threshold: Run uphill wearing a heart rate monitor and sustain a  threshold heart rate, zone 4, based on a current fitness test. 

Sample workout: WU:10 min pretty easyMS:  4 x 1-3 minutes at uphill, focus on form and run a little harder each repeat then run at tempo heart rate for 5-10 minutes CD: 10 min easy

Speed: Strength precedes speed so by nature of running on trails your legs are getting stronger and therefore you stride length will be stronger, more powerful when you go back to running on the road. Fast cadence and stride length = speed so maintaining a 90 one-foot strike per minute with a longer stride will move you further, faster, with less effort.

Sample workout:
Downhill stridesWU: 10 minutes ending at a short 2-4% grade hill, best done on the grass or in a parkMS: Run 10×20 seconds fast on soft, gentle down hill. Controlled speed, Relax. Walk back to starting pointCD: 10 minutes zone 1-2 

Compliment your training running experience with a strength training conditioning your body of core/balance body weight movements.  

I hope you found this helpful.  You are more than welcome to email  if you have any questions, comments or concerns.
Make it a great day! Coach Wendy

Similar Articles