Trail running training, made easy, with Science

Like in any endurance sport, in road sports too, we find various athletic categories; one of which is trail running. Trail running training focuses on running along uneven ground. Typically, athletes go running on the mountain or at the foot of a hill, on a beach or in a meadow. This is why trail running is synonymous with nature running; that is, a running routine that doesn’t include asphalt paved roads or stadiums.

On the nature of trail running training 

As you can gather, during trail running training, the athlete will encounter altitude differences; i.e. they will need to go uphill and downhill, from smoother to steeper slopes. So, in short, they’ll train on challenging landforms and different altitude variations. Consequently, the athlete’s training program requires special attention; put another way, a scientific approach is imperative here. 

Putting some science in the trail running training mix

As we already mentioned, trail running has several technical difficulties and it requires a specialized training program; exactly because it depends on the type of ground and the geomorphic characteristics of the place. However, there are some aspects that you need to consider, as a coach, before creating a trail running training program for your athletes. That is, regardless of where the training will take place.

1. Medical examinations

Before starting any physical activity, it’s necessary to ascertain that your athlete’s overall health is in a state to withstand the load of training; especially trail running training! It’s very likely that the athlete will encounter very demanding routes; meaning, it will take a lot of effort to pull them off. Therefore, it’s essential to advise them to visit a cardiologist, before starting with their training; as well as do blood tests, to make sure that they can safely execute their trail running training plan.

2. Ergometric evaluation

The ergometric evaluation of your athlete is as important as their medical examinations. There’s no other way for you to know your athlete’s current physical condition; so that you can efficiently guide them towards achieving their goals. 

It’s clear, by now, that trail running differs from the classic track or road running pattern. For this reason, the ergometric evaluation has to deviate, too, from the standard ergometric evaluation tests. More specifically, your athlete needs to undergo tests that are either performed with a fixed treadmill inclination, simulating an uphill route, or they can start running on the treadmill, without inclination, at first. Then, they can gradually increase the inclination, based on the protocol chosen by you or the ergometer, when evaluating the athlete.

3. Strength training

By all means, trail running training is very strenuous to the musculoskeletal system; in addition to the cardiorespiratory system, of course. Hence, you should include strength workouts for the whole body in your athlete’s weekly program, as well. This way, the training will be much more effective in inducing the proper adaptations in the athlete’s body. But, most of all, this kind of workout will protect your athlete from muscle or joint injuries; which would be very likely to occur otherwise, due to the particularities of the trail’s terrain. 

However, there seems to be a misconception that the musculoskeletal system is adequately trained through road training. Mind you, this is far from the truth. It certainly helps a lot, — especially at the beginning of the training process, when the body has not yet fully adapted to the training stimuli; yet, from a certain point on, the athlete will need to execute resistance training to improve their performance.

4. Nutrition and hydration

What’s more, running on uneven trails entails a higher energy demand; and that’s something all runners should seriously consider — both during and before training. To that end, they can always consult a nutrition professional to help them follow a specific dietary program. One that will be tailored to the energy requirements of their training plan. Indeed, this will not only help your athlete complete their training session successfully; but, also, contribute to their recovery, from the intense physical effort, preparing their body for the next trail running session.

During the trail running training process

During the whole process, and after collecting data from the athlete’s ergometric tests, you’ll be able to adapt your athlete’s training to the demands of trail running, using a variety of training methods. A thing to point out here: you’ll have to focus on your athlete’s HR (heart rate); that is, rather than their running pace. Why? Because their HR can greatly change, depending on the place they run, at any given moment. 

To help you out, here are some methods that are commonly used in such cases:

Hitting the trail

At the end of the day, trail running is complex. If anything, you, as a coach, have to consider a few critical factors, when creating your athlete’s trail running training plan:

  • First, the current physical condition of the athlete, and 
  • second, the morphology of the ground, where they will execute their training sessions. 

Make sure that your athlete doesn’t skip their annual medical examinations; or their occasional ergometric evaluation. It’s the only way to personalize their training program, on their needs and goals. Additionally, the athlete has to develop a strong musculoskeletal system to endure such challenging training. Moreover, with proper nutrition and hydration, they’ll be able to sustain their energy reserves at ideal levels, every time.

Creating wholesome trail running sessions with Endogusto

In case you need a lending hand in creating the perfect trail running training plan for your athlete, you can always try out Endogusto. We’ve developed our holistic, science-based coaching software to help you, the busy running coach, design, manage, and monitor top-notch training plans.

To highlight, Endogusto will help you:

  • Automatically calculate your athlete’s Lactate Threshold (LT) and Heart Rate (HR)
  • Create a strength training program using the platform’s library of preset workouts
  • Easily integrate your own coaching methods into your athlete’s training plan
  • Keep an open channel of communication with your athlete, to discuss their last training session, and keep them motivated
  • Monitor their health and overall status, to avoid injuries and overtraining syndromes
  • Utilize the historical log and their occasional test events, to personalize their next training plans

If these points seem to fit the bill, start training a runner for free, today, and see the benefits of Endogusto firsthand!

Try it today, for free!

Trail running training, made easy, with Science was last modified: April 7th, 2023 by Marilena Kokkinou