Advice on Trail Race Training - Marathon Running ...

Marathon Running and Race Support
1,789 members4,427 posts

Advice on Trail Race Training

SaskAlliecat
SaskAlliecatHalf Marathon

I’m doing a 10k trail race in the fall and was following a sub60 min 10k plan just to have some sort of plan to follow. Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve braved the trails (and didn’t get a tick on me either time) but had a huge eye opener that working speed is NOT doing anything to help me tackle the hills on the 10k trail course. The trail is an out an back with 2 huge hills - that we then get to turn around and run them reverse on the way home. The first hill has 100 metre climb over the first km and then when you “think” you’re at the top, there is another less intense hill to reach the actual peak 14 metres higher. The second hill is also about 100m elevation gain but over 1 1/2 km. In my first run, I ran the second hill after running the road for a long flat warm up. This weekend I incorporated the first hill into my 5k virtual Canada D’eh run and walked a lot more than I wanted/expected. I’ve decided I need to come up with some other sort of plan to better prepare me for the steepness of the hills and the rough terrain. I know I need to run trails and hills weekly. My other plan maxed out at 16k and I like the idea of still getting some endurance in my legs.

My thoughts are:

• to still run the long run on the plan and maybe try to fit some form of trail in it (on today’s 13k run, I “ran” the interpretive trail in the campground that is a 1 km loop with a 55m elevation gain twice - at the beginning of my run after a 3k warm up and after again after about 10k but this time running it the other direction). I use run loosely since I did have to walk part of it - there was little gas in the tank at the beginning of my run and the second time around running in reverse was pretty steep to try and run at the beginning

• run one mid length fully trail run (preferably on the race trail but may branch out a bit to explore some other portions of the 50k of trails they have marked for the ultra going on at the same time). I would like to build this one up to and hopefully exceeding 10k before September.

• for my 3rd weekly run still factor in some speed work or perhaps hills in town (shorter coulee hills by my house?) or should I just keep this a shorter run with some speed intervals.

My husband who used to run cross country as a teenager figures every run should be a trail hill run since that is the race terrain but they are so hard and taxing on the body I fear injury if I do this (plus I’ll miss the stress relief of a nice “normal” run)

I’m feeling a little lost without a plan but wasn’t able to find a suitable plan on line to meet my needs so I thought tweaking my existing plan is probably my best bet.

Any thoughts?

25 Replies
oldestnewest
Decker
DeckerModerator

As I have no trail experience I’ve not much to offer but if it were me...:) since you are training for a trail then maybe most of your runs, say two out of three weekly, could be trail and then you could save a shorter run for a road run, just to enjoy it. That course sounds super challenging. I would guess the more experience you have without pressure on the trails, the more likely it would be to avoid injury on the high pressure race day.

SaskAlliecat
SaskAlliecatHalf Marathon
in reply to Decker

You must’ve been talking to my hubby... you pretty much parroted what he said. I’ll have to take advantage of my time at the lake this summer to run the trails as much as possible and use the shorter coulee hills at home when I’m stuck there. I remember the trails being hard but you kind of block them from your mind until you hit them again 😳. I really like the longer runs but might have to save them for my winter runs.

Decker
DeckerModerator
in reply to SaskAlliecat

As long as you are enjoying the trail running. I would also be a bit concerned about a really challenging course as your first race in trail running combined with your time goal. If its a great experience, wonderful, but if it is a rough experience, don’t let it put you off future runs. You have a challenging course and an ambitious time goal. You can always ease your time goal and aim to just finish and really enjoy the experience.

SaskAlliecat
SaskAlliecatHalf Marathon
in reply to Decker

I don't actually have a time goal for this race, I just like having a plan to follow and liked the variety this plan had in it so was using it to have something to follow. My goal is to finish, which I know I will, and was hoping to run most of the second hill given it is more gradual, but we'll see. I'll take advantage of my time at the lake this summer to hit the trails and should have legs of steel by the fall 😆. It really is very pretty and peaceful out there but some of the trails are fairly isolated. I'm trying to convince hubby to join me so I can explore some of the more isolated trails. He enjoyed running the coulees with me in town last year but he hasn't ran much since then so we'll see 🤞

Decker
DeckerModerator
in reply to SaskAlliecat

That is a good plan. Makes good sense to run together too, especially in those isolated parts!

C3PO
C3POVirtual HM

I can’t remember your regular 10 k time for roads, but have you considered going for a less ambitious time? Trail runs always take longer.

You should definitely do most of your runs on trails if you’re aiming for a specific time, although mostly to build up strength. I’d say the only real risk of injury comes from tripping or falling. Trails are generally considered far better for your feet, as the ground is softer and more varied, so your foot muscles get a better workout.

Personally I find trail running pretty tricky, and I run quite a bit slower on them.

misswobble
misswobbleMarathon
in reply to C3PO

It’s more energy efficient to walk the steeper uphills. Then you regain time on the down On the lesser hills take smaller steps Trail running is just fab Slower though but that’s to be expected with varying terrain. Train on hills 🙂. Sorry 😁

SaskAlliecat
SaskAlliecatHalf Marathon
in reply to misswobble

Thanks for the advice misswobble. There is a portion of the first hill that is hard to hike, let alone run so I'll definitely be walking a good portion of the first hill. The second hill is more gradual in parts so am hoping to run more of it. I'm thinking I'll be acquainting my self with these 2 hills a lot over the next 2 months and perhaps a goal will be to be able to hike up it quicker.

SaskAlliecat
SaskAlliecatHalf Marathon
in reply to C3PO

I have no time expectation for this race. I was just using that training plan as something to follow and thought the longer runs would help to build the endurance I would need to finish the race. The last 2 years, the first place finisher was just over an hour so this lady will be happy with whatever time I get. My initial goal was to try and run the majority of the second hill but even that might be rather ambitious. This is a short work week then I'm out there for a week and a half so I'll try to run most of my runs that week on the trails and see how my body reacts. I'm stuck in town the week after, on call for most of it, so will be restricted to shorter town runs. I'll see it as a recovery week.

roseabi
roseabiAdministrator

Yeah, your husband is right :)

I hope you actually enjoy trail running? I'm sure you do, although I'm not quite getting that from this post...

But it's not necessarily the case that trails are harder on you than roads (except that it's easier to fall of course). If you are constantly running on fairly flat tarmac you are constantly impacting the same parts of your body, whereas on trails you are mixing it up. You are also increasing strength and endurance (and yes speed!) in new and wonderful ways.

SaskAlliecat
SaskAlliecatHalf Marathon
in reply to roseabi

Darn it... we'll keep it our little secret that he's right 😉.

I do enjoy trail running but really hate ticks so have been waiting for their numbers to dwindle a bit before hitting the trails. It was the creation of this race that actually spurred me back to running after a few year hiatus. I was just shocked that all the running I've done since last on the trails last fall and the hills I normally run in my regularly routes didn't seem to show up when I finally got back on the trails. it is a pretty challenging course and I should've known it would be hard but, it's like child birth I guess, you "forget". I've been so focussed the last year on running non-stop and achieving new distances, it's time to restructure my thinking again. Yesterday's run did help with that.

Time to hit the trails 😁

roseabi
roseabiAdministrator
in reply to SaskAlliecat

Oh yes of course, your secret is safe with me 😊

Darn ticks, but that's awesome - go you!!!

pinkaardvark
pinkaardvarkHalf Marathon

My understanding from what I have read is that hill training is meant to be good because it slows you down and the slower you go the less chance you have of incurring injury. It's why hill sprints are safer than flat sprints, your doing the same work but at slower velocity.

So the more hills the better really. Running down them is important too as you need to build that overspeed form to regain the lost time running up them. I often run as slowly down steep rises as I do up them which is such a double hit on the times.

roseabi
roseabiAdministrator
in reply to pinkaardvark

Have you heard of hill-bounding?

triathlete.com/2018/01/trai...

pinkaardvark
pinkaardvarkHalf Marathon
in reply to roseabi

Anything to do with hills is purely theoretical for me in my under sea level flatland fenworld of cambridgeshire. Stepping up a curb counts as doubling the elevation on one of my runs hehe

roseabi
roseabiAdministrator
in reply to pinkaardvark

Ah! But you could invent curb-bounding! You could write a book!! :)

pinkaardvark
pinkaardvarkHalf Marathon
in reply to roseabi

I have been a bounder and a cad, but never a curb bounder. Sounds too much like curbie or kerby depending on your locale. wikihow.com/Play-Kerby

roseabi
roseabiAdministrator
in reply to pinkaardvark

lol!

Actually a curb-bounder sounds a bit of a dodgy gentleman doesn't he!? :D

pinkaardvark
pinkaardvarkHalf Marathon
in reply to roseabi

Yep deffo sounds like a term jeeves may use amongst terms like bum fumbler etc hehe

ju-ju-
ju-ju-Administrator
in reply to roseabi

I like the look of that. I do something similar during my runs but I am going to follow this more structured approach now...

SaskAlliecat
SaskAlliecatHalf Marathon
in reply to pinkaardvark

Thanks pink. Given these trails are so hilly and steep, I wasn’t sure if running hills with every run (which will happen if I run the trails) was a recipe for injury. I thought only 20 % of the weekly runs were to be done at high intensity based on reading I’ve done in the past. I’m on holidays next week and will be at the lake so will try running all my runs on the trails and see how the body reacts. The following week I'll be stuck in town and can use it as a recovery week with flatter runs. It’ll give me a chance to explore a few of the other loops they have as part of the 50k race.

pinkaardvark
pinkaardvarkHalf Marathon
in reply to SaskAlliecat

You are right about the 20% give or take, so by all means run up the hills even slower :)

ju-ju-
ju-ju-Administrator

I run alot on trails ( I would do for every run but its not always feasible). My trail is also very hilly and undulating. I have learnt this:

Expect it to take longer than road running as its far more challenging

Strengthen your ankles- they take a punding from uneven ground and hills can give your achilles jip.

Build up your distance on trails gradually if you arent used to it.

I have used trail shoes but I need the support so I wear my usual ones just being careful on slippery mud and stones... trail shoes are good for grip tho.

In the Winter I always take a foil blanket, plasters and a whistle/ supplies as its very remote so if I fall I can survive!!

Sorry I have rather waffled, its my fave topic tho :)

SaskAlliecat
SaskAlliecatHalf Marathon
in reply to ju-ju-

Excellent, great advice ju-ju. I don't see myself running there in the winter but am going to utilize them as much as feasible this summer. The different legs of the 50k trails range from 5km up to 17 km so I should be able to build up the distance gradually. I'm quite excited for the start of my holidays tomorrow, planning which trails to run when. They're calling for another heatwave with highs in the high twenties/ low thirties all week, so I'll be hitting them early in the morning 🌄🌞

ju-ju-
ju-ju-Administrator
in reply to SaskAlliecat

the best time... I am going out on the trail early tomorrow too.... I am SOOOO excited. We can run virtually together :)

And great plan...

You may also like...