If you’ve signed up for your first trail running event but you live in a city or another urban area, then you’ve likely encountered a slight problem: there are no trails for you to train on.

Rich Trails in training

While the prospect of running on the trails may sound exciting - and believe us - it is, you need to get in the right training to prepare your body for the mix of terrain, steep gradients, and other obstacles you’ll no doubt face.

Luckily for you, we have you covered. This blog post will explain how to train for trail running without trails.

How do I get in shape for trail running?

If you live in a city, run on softer surfaces such as grass and dirt, find uneven (but safe) terrain - a mix of soft and hard surfaces works best. For example, you could run around your local park.

If there aren’t many hills where you live, use the treadmill in your local gym to simulate hill climbs. The “dreadmill” might not be known for its pure enjoyment, but it has its uses, and training on inclines is one of them.

Finally, alongside running on mixed surfaces, you’ll want to focus on strength training. Add a strength training session to your weekly sessions to become stronger on the trails. Example exercises include single-leg squats, walking lunges, single-leg deadlifts, glute bridges, and planks.

You can add or remove exercises as needed but, typically, single leg exercises and plyometric training is a great option for those looking to conquer the trails.

How do you train for trail running in the city?

Run on softer surfaces, such as the grass found in your local park. You can also run on cobbles or other challenging terrains to test your balance and improve your coordination.

If you don’t have access to hills, consider running on the treadmill (set on an incline) for hill training - hill repeats and long hilly runs are both good options.

And if you really don’t want to run on the treadmill, which, let’s face it, is completely understandable, you could try stair repeats if you find a long set of stairs. But you’ll need expert coordination in a low pedestrian area for the best results.

How do beginners train for trail running?

You might be a fast runner on the roads, but the trails are a whole other monster.

Road running is straightforward – there may be a few hills but, typically, you know what’s in store. Trail running, on the other hand, includes steep inclines, fierce descents, undulating terrain, occasional bits of loose gravel, soft ground, hard ground and a few more obstacles to keep you on your toes.

If you’ve never run on the trails before, there are a few things you can do to prepare:

  • Run hill repeats: these will strengthen your legs and prepare you for the trails.
  • Mix up the terrain: run on softer ground and other surfaces to prepare your body for the transition.
  • Strength train: begin strength training 1-2x a week to become stronger on the trails.

Remember: There’s no better to way to prepare for running on trails than actually running on trails. But if you follow the advice above, you’ll feel much more confident when the time comes.

We wish you luck and if you need any more assistance, please get in touch.

How do you train for long distance trail running?

If you’re going long, then you’ll need to train long.

Similar to how you increase your training distance in preparation for a marathon, you’ll want to add longer runs to your weekly training schedule.

Avoid running the bulk of your miles in 1-2 days, but run three to four, or even five times a week, with one run longer than the others.

You don’t need to put in intense training sessions to run far, but if you can put in some miles on your runs, you’ll certainly benefit physically, also building mental fortitude.

Other than that, the training principles stay the same. Run on softer surfaces, mix up the terrain, and begin strength training.

Get creative with your training!

Trail running is fun, like, really fun.

But if you don’t have access to local trails, then it can be difficult to prepare. So, if that’s you, then don’t fret.

This article has answered the question: how to train for trail running without trails. And the answer all boils down to being creative. Find new terrain, work on your leg strength, and do your best to simulate the conditions.

And most importantly, enjoy the trails when you finally get to them. You’ve earned it!

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