5 Ways Runners Can Use Trail Running to Get Faster

Trail running makes you strong. It can also make you faster. “But wait,” you think, “I look down at my watch Garmin afterwards and the times are slower!” Ahhh…it all comes back to effort, My Dears, effort.

Hills take a LOAD more effort running up than running on the flats. #lessonfromcommonsense Haha. Force those legs of yours to put in the extra effort needed to get up those inclines thought and you’ll build power. Now a lesson in running mathematics:

Power = Strength = Speed

running mental fence
Blast up those hills and the second you take it to the track or flats, you’ll be thinking how much ‘easier’ it feels. This summer, take it to the trails (the right way) and you’ll come out stronger, faster, and ready to kick butt. It’s not just about ‘base building’ it’s about ‘power building’.

5 Ways to Do Your Power Building Trail Running RIGHT

1) Get Efficient: You’re not doing hills right if you’re hunched over like Quasimodo. Hills make it even more important you hold proper form. Check out my post on form HERE and when taking it to the hills remember:
* Stand Up TALL: Keep that torso straight!
* Don’t Lean: Don’t lean too far into the hill, keep your center of gravity above your hips; your hips will naturally be SLIGHTLY leaning into the hill, but you should think in your mind about standing up straight because quite honestly you’ll probably ‘feel’ like you’re leaning WAY back behind you but in reality are where you need to be. Focus on staying upright.
* Shorten Stride: Keep the same effort running up the hill but shorten your stride. Focus on the faster turn-over and power up that hill!

2) Eyes Ahead: Keep your eyes focused on the top of the hill, you want to power all the way UP and THROUGH the crest. Too many runners make the mistake of powering up and stopping juuuuust short of the crest which means they lose all that momentum they worked SO hard for getting up. Run THROUGH the hill so you can use that momentum to power down it.

3) Blasts vs. Endurance: Just like track and flat speedwork, hill running workouts should be tailored to match the goal for the day’s workout. Short 10-30 second hill blasts can be thought of like plyometric work. It will REALLY build that base speed, it’s all fast twitch; so remember to take FULL recovery for short blasts, as is the law of the sprinters and taxing the anaerobic energy system. Longer hill repeats and doing tempo workouts on a hilly course will further build that endurance and strength so when you take it to the flats the same EFFORT will yield much faster times. It’s always cool to step from the hills to the track, look at the watch and surprise yourself, no? :)

4) Rolling and Exploring: Even doing your easy days on the trails will build power. Over time the ups and downs make you stronger; it’s important to keep your easy day EFFORT easy though so you’re still actually recovering. So again, ignore what the watch says and run for effort.

5) Downhill Running: It’s important to remember that everything that goes up, goes down. #duh Running downhill puts a lot of stress on the body and as any Boston Marathon runner can tell you downhills can REALLY do a number on those quads. Downhill running isn’t ‘easy peasy’ on the body. So if you’re training for a race with lots of downhills it’s smart to practice running downhill. If you’re prone to injury beware, because the extra pounding can cause knees and ankles to get cranky. Final tip on running downhill: don’t FIGHT it. Relax, let gravity help you, and don’t try to fight it…roll with it, Runner Babes.
find adventure after the sidewalk ends
So if you’re not sold on hills and exploring trails, and that they will make you faster, yet…just go to Instagram and check out some of those nature pix those avid trail runners are posting! The miles will fly by. Go out…explore, adventure, LOVE the run!

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CHECK IT OUT!! Ezzere made Competitor’s list for TOP fitness tees!! Wahooo…the Peacock Runner Tee, sitting at number 3 on the slideshow. :)
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1) Best, most amazing trail run you’ve even been on?
Nisene Marks Park in Aptos, CA. Go there.

2) Favorite hill workout?

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7 thoughts on “5 Ways Runners Can Use Trail Running to Get Faster

  1. I don’t run trails and I’ve only done one trail race – Hunter’s half last month. There was definitely no way to run fast and I think the fact that it stormed all night before the race just added to the “fun”!!!

    • i’m bummed there aren’t really any trails close to me either. :( dang, that race u did with Hunter was less like a trail race and kinda like a sick comedy show about all the things that COULD go wrong for a race all happening at once!! you guys were troopers!! #tough

  2. I need to explore some trails in my area. Our new home is near a national park so next year I’ll be rocking some trail runs hopefully :)
    It would definitely be a nice change from the treadmill, but I can’t complain about my current seaside weekend runs either :)

    • oh my goodness, SCORE on the location of that new home!!! don’t lie, that’s the REAL reason you picked it, right? jk. but can’t wait to hear about and see all the fun you have exploring that park. :)

  3. I started running trails earlier this year and they’re definitely a lot more challenging than running on roads! There’s a trail system in our area at Pandapas Pond called the Poverty Creek Trail System. It’s located in the Jefferson National Forest and the trails are really pretty. My favorite type of hill workout is to run a route with rolling hills. That way you get hill repeats without actually having to do repeats on the same hill over and over, which for me gets monotonous.

    • i’ve seen how well you’ve taken to trails and i dare say you’re tearing it up, Girl!! :) i wish i lived closer to those gorgeous trails you’ve got over there. and true point on the rolling hills, they kinda disguise it a bit how much harder you’re working. ;)

  4. Pingback: Running ‘No Fluff’ Zone: What the masses don’t want to read about |

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