7 Workouts Top Trail Runners Swear By

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While much of the strength and endurance you gain from road running transfers to the trails, there is a more specific skillset required by rocky and rutted terrain. Steep climbs, sharp turns and greater topographic variety tend to make trail running more technical, often necessitating greater muscular strength. An increased sense of where your foot is in space, known as proprioception, is also important on uneven trails with unsure footing. What's more, trail races are synonymous with ultra events, so building up the proper endurance to handle increased mileage is essential.

More: How to Increase Running Mileage Safely

If you're preparing for a trail race, you should be spending a good amount of time training off-road in order to develop the required strength and balance. Just as the principle of specificity suggests, in order to perform a certain skill adequately on race day, that skill must be practiced repeatedly over time. To get an idea of some trail-specific workouts, we consulted some of the best trail runners around to get their all-time favorites. Next time you're looking for training tailored for off-road adventures, consider trying one of these.

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Krissy Moehl, two-time Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc Champion (166K) and 2013 Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji Champion (168K), based in Boulder

Workout: Pyramid
  • Warm up for 20 minutes
  • Run 2 minutes at an up-tempo pace: slightly out of your comfort zone, but still a pace you can maintain for the entire 2 minutes
  • 1-minute recovery jog
  • 4 minutes up-tempo
  • 2 minutes recovery jog
  • 6 minutes up-tempo
  • 3 minutes recovery jog
  • 4 minutes up tempo
  • 2 minutes recovery jog
  • 2 minutes up-tempo
  • 20-minute cooldown

Krissy's Tip: "Surging down or up the trail is a fun way to increase turnover, tick through a few miles faster than normal, and wake up your system from the familiar, metronome stride that is as comfortable as a boyfriend's hooded sweatshirt."

More: Cardio-Sprint Pyramid and Other Interval Workouts