How Do I Get Better At Trail Running?

How do I get better at trail running?

As a coach, I often get asked by clients how to improve at trail running. To answer, you first have to define your goals. Does improving at trail running mean getting more confident on trails, or getting faster at trail running, or gaining more trail running endurance to run longer distances?

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Check out our 12-week training plans add-on option for tackling a week of trail running on the trails of Patagonia, the Italian Dolomites, and Chamonix Mont Blanc.

How to Improve at Uphill Trail Running

Improving at uphill trail running has a lot to do with improving your overall fitness as a runner. For this, we recommend following a training plan from an experienced coach to work on improving overall running fitness, including aerobic fitness and lactate threshold work. If you want to learn more about custom trail running plans, you can check them out here.

The running form of uphill running should have a slight forward lean to take advantage of gravity. You should avoid any wasted motion from side-to-side.

Improving at both uphill downhill running can be done by strengthening your legs. We really like this short strength circuit from David Roche to improve your mountain legs. This trail running training circuit for mountain legs can be done from anywhere—no nearby trails necessary!

How to Improve at Downhill Trail Running

Improving at downhill running can come with starting to think of running as controlled falling. The worst thing you can do during downhill running is to drive your heel into the ground to try and “brake” yourself down the hill. Often relaxing and leaning into the downhill can make you more efficient—and less in need of seeking out PT for your knees. On technical trails, a little agility work can go a long way in practicing landing light and fast in lateral and foward-moving directions. We recommend a simple agility ladder sequence such as this one from Triathlete magazine used sparingly throughout the week of training.

How to Get Faster at Trail Running

Again, getting faster at trail running may require improving your uphill or downhill technique (or a combination of both) and improving your overall fitness. This requires reserving a few days a week to practice some form of interval training. Below are a few workout ideas to get started to practice running faster on trails.

  • Add 8 x 10 second hill sprints twice/week at the end of easy runs.

  • Add 6-8 30-second pick-ups during your weekly long run

  • Add 10 x 1 minute hard/ 1 minute easy jogging into your mid-week run

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How to Take a Trail Running Runcation

We’ve got you covered on this one. Check out our guided trail running trips in the Italian Dolomites, Chamonix Mont Blanc, and Argentinian Patagonia. Our latest runcations for summer 2019 and winter and spring 2020 can be found here!

Did you know you can also request a custom or private Runcation? Organize your own trail running trip for a group of friends, brand, or team. We can even provide tips, instruction, and coaching for how to trail run properly on these running trips and camps!

You can also check out our blog on How to Prepare for an Active Travel retreat. Leave a comment with your thoughts, or get in touch with any questions!