Specific exercises will improve your ability to run on trails as well, and most can be done in the comfort of your own home. Try these exercises to improve your core strength, balance, coordination and lower-leg strength.
- One-legged squats. Stand with one foot on the floor and one leg in front of you with the foot several inches off the ground. Squat until your thigh is almost parallel to the ground. Make sure to keep your knee stable and over your foot. Complete 5 repetitions per leg. Remember to keep your lower back in a neutral position.
- Step-ups. Stand in front of a stable chair and step onto the chair with your left leg. Push down through your heel and lift yourself onto the chair. Slowly lower your opposite leg back to the ground. Complete 10 to 15 repetitions per leg.
- Hay bales. This exercise requires a medicine ball. Stand with your feet shoulders-width apart. While holding a medicine ball at your waist, squat and come back to a standing position. While you're standing up, lift the ball over one shoulder by rotating your torso. Alternate sides and complete a total of 10 to 20 repetitions.
- Barefoot running drills. If your living room or hallway is big enough, do a few skipping exercises like butt-kicks. These drills will help to improve your athleticism, and doing them barefoot helps build your lower leg strength.
The skills you learn from these exercises—efficiency, agility and strength—are critical for thriving on technical trails and being able to run fast on, around and over obstacles.
If you're a regular in the gym and you're familar with core exercises, you might not need to do as much preparation for the trails. Just go get out there and run!
But if you're a trail newbie, these exercises will help get you ready for the challenges ahead. It's still a good idea to take your time to adapt to trail running—it will challenge you, but you'll also have a lot of fun.trail race.