Trail running gives runners a different challenge and another way to test themselves and their endurance. Trail running is far different than running on paved city streets and training for races differs a great deal too. It does have a softer terrain that lowers the risk of injury, but it is exhausting initially and you can take twice as long to cover the same amount of distance. It won’t take you long to find your rhythm, now let’s get down to training for trail running races.
Use Your Arms
Running uphill is HARD, but you can get more power by pumping your arms from your hips towards your shoulders. You need to keep the elbows wider than normal. This will help you maintain your balance when you are running downhill. Keep the shoulders relaxed and chest wide open so you can fully expand your lungs and get as much oxygen as possible.
Focus is Everything
Just like any other competitive sport, focus is everything. Look in front of you and find a way through the terrain. Running on city streets gives you the luxury of being able to look around and take in the scenery, trail running does not. You can take the time to appreciate the scenery when the trail is flat and straight.
Marathon running is all about endurance, trail running requires balance and agility on the uneven terrain. Training is going to require different exercises to build the muscles in your legs and make you more agile. Try doing some single leg balance exercises, where you practice standing on one foot for 35-45 seconds at a time. After that you can move onto single leg squats. This is where you do squats on only one leg instead of your legs being hip distance apart. Try also taking a plyometrics class at your local gym it will also help you build power and agility. Here are some other exercises to help you.
Run the Trails
The best place to train for a trail race is actually on the trail itself. If that is possible, then plan to run the trails at least once or twice per week while the rest of the time you run on the roads. It will help you develop the endurance for the trail and let you know where everything is, where the hills are and the obstacles. If you’re new to trail running, then start training on a groomed trail in your local park and move to a more difficult trail.