Moderate Distance Training Plan for Trail Running

Moderate Distance Training Plan for Trail Running

Looking for a longer distance and bigger challenge?  This training plan is for those looking to run a 10K or Half-Marathon distance trail race.



  1. To train for a trail run, you need to run on trails.  Find some trails close by and scope out the trails that won't be too difficult for your level of fitness.
  2. If you haven't run on trials before, it is different from running on the sidewalk.  Start off slower than you want and gradually work your way up as you get more comfortable running off-road.
  3. Use your arms more than you normally would for on-road running.  When you are climbing a hill, use the vertical motion of you arms to help you along the way.
  4. Make sure to stay alert and keep your eyes a few steps ahead of where you are going so you can adjust to oncoming roots, holes or other obstacles.
  5. It's OK to slow down and walk if needed.  Take your time and have fun.  Make sure you get through the tougher areas until you get more comfortable.
  6. Make sure you have appropriate off-road running gear.  Trail running shoes are a must as the extra tread will give you traction in the rough terrain.  Make sure to layer up, bring sunglasses, extra water, and, depending on the length of your run, a hat and sunscreen.


Moderate Distance Trail Running Plan

Trail Running Terms

Off-Road Run: Since you’ll be training for an off-road race, it’s important to get off the roads. Two to three times a week, make the effort to find a wooded trail, grass loop or dirt path and practice running where the ground beneath your feet isn’t so trustworthy.

Easy Run: Aim to comfortably cover the distance at a conversational pace. Adding 90-seconds to two minutes per mile to your goal race pace should do the trick.

Strides: This set of six short accelerations should be performed after an easy run and as part of your warmup for key workouts as a way to maintain turnover and improve efficiency. Accelerate for 5 seconds, run at your fastest sustainable speed for 10 seconds, and then decelerate for the final 5 seconds. Take a minute between strides to get your breath back.

Fartlek: Whether performed on the roads or off, these structured interval-style sessions cover a set amount of time at a given effort level rather than an exact distance at a prescribed pace. Great workout when training for off-road races where mile markers aren’t always accurate—or existent.

Track Intervals: Why run on the track if you’re getting ready for an off-road race? Performing interval workouts in this controlled environment is the best way to improve your speed and measure progress.

Hills: These sessions will build strength and stamina without tearing your legs apart. Find a moderate incline that forces you to get up on your toes. Walk or jog down the hill between repeats for recovery.

Warmups & Cooldowns: Precede each of your key hill workouts, tempo runs and interval sessions with a 1 to 2 miles of easy running and a set of strides to warm up. Follow the workout with 1 to 2 miles of easy running to cool down.

X-training: Alternative aerobic exercise in the form of cycling, water running, swimming or the elliptical machine. These are scheduled before or after your key workouts for the week and cross training for 30 to 60 minutes on your non-running days is a good way to get in extra volume without beating up your body.

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Posted Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013 by Michael Gonzales in Training Plans, Trail Running