Trail Runners


Trail running and the body (Read 207 times)


Me, the Barbie version

    I usually stick to the Neo Trail Runners thread, but I think this question is broad enough to open to the rest of the forum. Last night, I read this on the "Trail Runner" magazine website: Trail runners often require more recovery between workouts because they recruit more muscles to stabilize the body while moving over uneven terrain . . . Between hard, hilly trail runs, include several flat, short, easy trails for active muscular recovery. Is this why it is difficult for me to follow training plans that schedule runs 4-5 days per week? I am training to do the 1/2 marathon run portion of the Auburn Triathalon in May next year as part of a team. Because I know what the route is like, I am training on the ugliest trails that I can find in North Texas and I have made slow and steady progress running close to three days each week. I started with my long run (this past summer) at two miles, LOL, and can now run 90+ minutes with energy to spare on my endurance days. As you can see, I am a newbie, but I almost never run on anything but those messy trails. Even when there is a paved path, I run beside it in the grass, which I dislike almost as much as concrete, but I figure is better training for what I am up against. Okay, my question in a couple sentences: Is it possible to train for my goal (or maybe even a bigger one, like a 30-50k) with a max of three days per week on the trails? Will low-impact exercise (biking, Billy Blanks videos, etc.) on "recovery days" as mentioned in the quote above help or harm my efforts, as a newbie? Any advice or training suggestions? Thanks for the input in advance. Everyone here is always so helpful. Kitrin


      Wow...I always feel as though I recover faster from trail runs because it doesn't beat me up as much as roads, I just have to work harder on the trails. That, and I slow way down on trails (unless I'm racing) so maybe I just recover faster because I'm consciously not running as fast.

      Run to Win
      25 Marathons, 17 Ultras, 16 States (Full List)

        Hmmm. Even on my ugliest hilliest trail runs I never feel as beat up as running or racing on the roads. The effort during running seems exponentially hard sometimes, but the recovery is always quicker. Having said that I like to run on the roads a couple of times a week to keep my speed up in case I want to do a road race. I think you should keep doing what you're doing and just gradually add on. It is probably hard simply because you're new. And lets face it, some trails are just plain hard work!! A road race training schedule may have to be modified slightly. I think that if you can estimate the amount of time you think you are going to do the half marathon in and get your run very close to that duration or at least 3/4 of the duration, you will be prepared to finish. If you want a good finish time on the trail then incorporate some fartlek on your runs. If you are planning on racing on trails, run on trails. I know some people who run exclusively on trails, never touch the pavement and never race on roads. Its all personal preference. Good luck with your training and race.
          And I might add that the article does make a good point about alternating *hilly* terrain with *flatter, easier* terrain. That is a good idea because you do indeed stress different muscles. Variety during training is good.
            Kitrin - I train on the road during the week because I have no choice, and run trails on Saturdays. Even though I train pretty hard during the week, (speed work, hill sprints, tempo hills), I always feel like I expend a ton more on the trails. It may just be a factor of time (2-3 hours or more v. 1 hour ea. during the week), but I also think it's a factor of the terrain, as well. I don't think my body takes more of a beating, but I do think it works harder because of having to stabilize on unstable terrain. I'm not dodging holes, jumping over roots, maneuvering ruts, climbing hillsides, etc., on the road. I do think it's possible to train for your goals without a ton of time on the trails. You definitely need to spend time on trails so that you are accustomed to them, but you can do some great preparation, as well, with your cross training. I run 4 days a week (1 day on trails), and cross train 2 days a week with strength training and stationary bike riding. This way you're preparing your whole body for physical activity, and not just the legs. You use your arms, your chest, your back, your stomach - everything, not just your legs - when running. Especially on trails. You're going to do great, but I would recommend that at some point you think about getting a Garmin (or something like that) to track your mileage sufficiently, and maybe consider doing heart rate training. The HR training is making a world of difference for me.

            Living and Running Behind the Redwood Curtain


            Trail Runner Nation


            2018: Mendocino Coast 50k - April 21

              Is this why it is difficult for me to follow training plans that schedule runs 4-5 days per week?
              Hi Kitrin! In my opinion, 4-5 days per week is a lot to ask of most new runners' bodies. Unless you're a naturally talented 100-pound woman or 130-pound-man (or are a teenager), it can be tough on the body to get used to running more days than not. I'm basically a mesomorph and although I've been running as an adult for about ten years, I still have to give myself lots of rest days, whether I'm running on trails or roads. Canned training plans can be dangerous that way - the temptation is to get wrapped up in following the directions and not listen to the body. Although those plans are great for showing the kind of training it takes to do well in a marathon or half marathon, if you can motivate yourself to follow a self-guided, flexible plan, you may be better off. The trick is learning how to make day-to-day training decisions all work toward the goal race. You could do something simple like run long on weekends, rest on Mondays and Fridays, and run two or three easy-to-medium days during the week. For many runners, the distance for each run type should gradually grow as the race date approaches, up until about three weeks out, when it's time to gradually taper down. Cross training, especially when the legs are tired, can never hurt and seemed to help me a bunch, especially as my race distances continue to grow. I'm not familiar with Billy Blanks videos, but I do like to bike, swim, and do construction projects on my home. Above all, make it all fun!

              Speed my steps along your path, according to your will.