Training plan for HM trail run? (Read 111 times)


    Hello all..I am not exactly a beginner but a returning runner.  I used to run a lot and got burned out and quit. Started back on January 1 and building up low and slow.  I don't think I've ever built a proper base and am determined to do so this time. I am 45 yo female.  I run every day but am building up very slowly and gradually.  My rules are every day, at least a mile, increase mileage every week (about to change that to every month as I begin to allow a cut back week every 6-10 weeks as needed).


    Back to my original question.  I have agreed to do a half marathon in July.  It's not my first half, will be my fourth.  It is my first half or event of any kind on a trail.  Does anyone know of a good training plan for trails?  I had planned to use a Hal Higdon plan and just run on trails as much as I can but I thought there might be one specific to trails.

      I have my first 50K in two weeks and it's all trails.  This will be my first long race on trails.  For training plans, I found that it's all about training based on time, not distance.  You will always be slower on trails especially if the terrain is rough and it's a hilly course.  Also, you'll want to make sure you do all your longer runs on the trails so your body can get use to it.  IMO, it's so much easier on the body to do the longer workouts on trails as opposed to the roads as I've done for the past 4 years.  I'm always out doing a recovery run the day after a 4+ hour trail workout with no soreness.  I could never do that after a 20+ mile run on the roads.


      Word of advice on form...make sure you run the trails with a very short, quick stride.  You'll need to correct often due to rocks, roots, etc, and those with longer strides on the trails are tend to face plant.


        Thanks maddog.  I used to take my dogs running on trails occasionally and I was amazed how much harder it is than road running.  Soooo different.  It felt like I was completely out of shape.  But it sure was fun..jumping rocks and stumps like a kid playing in the woods. Smile  I think I can get on the trail every weekend for my long run but mid week will be difficult. Do you think a hill session mid week can make up for not running on the trail?  Will one trail run a week be good enough?


        Pace Prophet

          If you're going to race on trails, do as much running as you can on trails.  It's surprising to me how much better I get at trail running by just, you know, trail running.

          PRs: 10 1:12:59 (4/2014) 13.1 1:35:55 (10/2013) 26.2 3:23:31 (12/2013)

          bloggy stuff at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org

            Hi there!  I prefer trail running and look for trail races first especially HM.  Maddog is correct in that trail running/racing is about distance, not necessarily time as you have to overcome different challenges on the terrain, depending on its technicality.  There is a difference between technical trails and groomed trails.  What is the trail like?  The longest trail race I've run so far is a 25K (15.5 miles) but my training runs are longer as I run HMs and FMs.  I love the challenge of running through sand, arroyos, jumping over/running through water, mud, rocks, climbing steep uphill, etc.  I train on trails as much as possible, and as ilanarama and Maddog mentioned, run your longer runs on trails.  Don't forget to do hill repeats and sprints too, as well as post run exercises; I do intervals on the TM now and then which I found more consistent although I don't care for TM in general.  Most of my training runs are on the trails for strength, raw endurance, coordination, balance, and agility.  You have to focus on your every step which keeps me engaged throughout the run which I love about trail running.  I do race on road courses but I find them boring compared to trail races.  Make sure you do have a 'rest day' as the more technical trails work every part of your legs, calves, and especially ankles.  Takes time to strengthen them.  There are alot of articles on trail running now as it has become more popular (thank goodness); I follow the Galloway run/walk which I have modified according to my fitness level and as I have gained more experience as a trail runner (about 10 yrs now).  I'm 52 now. Your July event gives you plenty of time to trail well. Warning! Trail running is infectious Smile Good Luck!!

            PRs In my 50's:  10k trail=52:00;10 m rd=1:23;10 m trail=1:31; HM=1:52; 25K Trail=2:40; FM=4:10; 50k=7:18


              If you can only run 1 day a week on trails, the long run would be the best choice.  Try a different course each week:  flat/fast, rolling, or climb+descent.  You don't need to be out for a super-long time, just 2-3 hours, long enough that you are fatigued but have to concentrate on maintaining form.  If the half-marathon course is within driving distance, run it once/month.  Training on the course is extremely effective.


                Thanks for all the feedback!  The race is on a local mountain bike trail.  There are several different trails linked together, some hillier and more technical than others so I think you get a mixed bag with the HM.  My mileage is so low right now..my longest run after 8 weeks back in is 3 miles. Blush  Definitely easing back in.  I don't want to get shin splints or anything running every day so I am definitely being cautious and conservative.  If time allows I think I will go out to the trails this weekend and check it out.  I had not planned to run any events until possibly the fall but my cousin talked me into this one. She just discovered running and is so excited about it I couldn't say no.


                  I used the Hal Higdon plan for my first half (trail). I pretty much stuck to it, realizing three things.

                  1. Put as many miles in on trails

                  2. Slow down a bit (focus on form like maddog suggested). Trail running is naturally slower than road

                  3. HILLS - hills for me reinforces proper form (shorter strides, bit of a lean, faster turnover), plus it builds those glutes and gets them involved.

                  RunningBrief - Free weekly email digest by runners for runners


                  Faster Than Your Couch!

                    I think any training plan that does what you already do (increasing mileage very slowly, gentle runnung, building base instead of focusing on speed) will work for you, just do most of your mileage on trails instead of roads.

                    If the plan specifies a certain duration of run, and the plan is for roads, you may multiply that time by 1.2 to 1.5 to adjust it to the trails. So if the plan calls for a 60-minute run on a road, you'd have to run for about 70 to 90 minutes on trails to get the same effect.


                    Don't focus on speed, first of all, that doesn't work on trails anyway unless you have a lot of experience there, and in trail running, the terrain and surface are the main factors determining speed, so "pace" usually does not make much sense unless you talk about the same trail under similar conditions for comparison.


                    Take it easy with the technical trails, but do run on them, even if you fall and get scratched and bruised. That's just part of the trail experience. Over time, you'll get better at it, find a rhythm and develop a technique that allows you to move more easily and faster even over difficult terrain. And it happens even to experienced trail runners that some runs are just tricky sometimes, and nothing seems to work to make it easier. Just stick with it.


                    You may use biker's gloves to protect your hands, just in case you fall or slip. Depends on how technical, steep and rocky your trails are.


                    Learn to walk up hills fast. Walking is much more prominent in trail running than on roads, especially on longer distances. Often it is just as fast (or faster) to walk up a hill than to run it up. I sometimes still run up a hill just for the heck of it, even when I know that walking would be faster, but I have also developed a fast walk. Walking up a hill also allows you to start running again on top earlier and faster, so if you know where to walk and where to run, you can preserve some energy and still make good progress.


                    Learn how to deal with steep downhills, practice that as well. Don't overdo it in the beginning, though, to avoid injury of your quads and knees.


                    Early on, find out about eating and drinking on the run. Once you get used to longer distances, you won't need much food on a HM, but it's essential to know what works for you, and what doesn't. You might try gels and sports drinks, but also pretzels, fruit, cookies, etc., but only very small amounts at a time. As your race will be in July, you'll need to know about your hydration, so find a sports drink that you like and use it on your training runs. Once you know which foods work for you, you might work on finding out how much you'll need for the distance. Maybe just the drink works for you, and you won't need additional food.


                    Good luck for your race!

                    Run for fun.


                      Thanks FTYC for the thorough response!