How to Become a Better Trail Runner

  • Haybales: Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Holding a medicine ball, bounce it on the ground between your legs and as you catch it, lift it over your left shoulder with a controlled twisting motion. Repeat the motion over the right shoulder. Start with two sets of 10 repetitions and build to three sets of 30 reps.
  • Step-Ups: Stand in front of a stable chair or bench that's about knee height. Step up with your left leg onto the bench and lift yourself up. Slowly lower your right leg back down to the ground. That's one repetition. Start with 10 reps per leg and build to two sets of 15 reps.
  • Lunges with a Twist: Step forward with your left leg like you're doing a normal lunge. When you're in the fully extended position, twist to the left so you're looking directly to your left at a 90-degree angle. Twist back to the front position and return to a standing position. That's one repetition. Start with three lunges per leg and build to five.
  • Balance Drill: Stand barefoot on one leg for 30 seconds. Build to 60 seconds and once you've developed the balance necessary to hold that position without any wobbling, close your eyes.

You'll see that these exercises focus on lower-leg strength, coordination, and single-leg strength. They improve your sense of balance and build the strength that you'll need when you're navigating uneven trails littered with rocks and underbrush.

More: 7 Best Plyometric Exercises to Improve Running Economy

All Trails Aren't Created Equal

There are many different types of trails, ranging from smooth crushed cinder paths to technical single-track trails that switchback up the side of a mountain.

As a beginner who's starting to run, or someone who is new to trail running, go easy and progress over months to more technical terrain. Have patience that your ability to run confidently on challenging trails will improve with practice and increased skill. And above all, have fun.

More: 7 Hill Running Workouts That Increase Power

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