So you want to get into trail running, but you’re not sure where to start?
This Beginner Bootcamp is designed for someone who’s looking to bring a bit more consistency and intention to their training. If you’re able to run a few miles at a time, a couple of times a week, this plan will help you optimize your training and take you to the next level in your trail running, whether you’re looking to jump into trail races or just run more consistently and healthfully.
While it’s tempting to pile on volume from the get-go, doing the “most” you can sustain is not a great way to progress long term. The best volume is the least you can do while still provoking adaptations, not the most you can do without getting hurt or burning out. You don’t always need to do the maximum mileage on the plan to get the most out of the program, you just need to prioritize consistency and feeling good.
After 12 weeks of this Bootcamp, you’ll have a pretty solid base to consider taking on a bigger challenge, like increased mileage or even a trail race!
WHAT TO KNOW
The majority of your time running should feel easy. It’s tempting to think you need to work up a sweat every time you lace up your trail shoes, but our goal is to make running fast feel easier, not to get good at running hard, which isn’t sustainable long term. Keep your effort level fully conversational, at a pace you could sustain a conversation. The strides and hills will be enough to increase fitness and speed without racing your easy days. Just because this is a Bootcamp doesn’t mean we’re going to go hard every day!
Hills are speedwork in disguise! Hills help optimize power output and improve form and economy while minimizing impact forces. Find a hill that’s somewhere around 4-8% grade (not too steep, not too flat!) for strides. You don’t want it to be so steep that you lose form, or are tempted to walk or stop at any point during the stride. Lean into the hill, and run up as hard as you can for the time prescribed. Then, jog or walk back down the hill to where you started allowing just enough time for your heart rate to return to baseline. You should be hitting max effort on hill strides.
Rest days are your first line of prevention against burnout and injury. They’re also the most important day of training because that’s when the adaptations actually happen! Running without resting is like eating without digesting. You have to give your body the time and space it needs to adapt to the training stimulus you’re giving it. One of the biggest mistakes beginner runners make is underestimating the importance of rest days, which often leads to stagnation, burnout and injury. Take your rest days as seriously as you would a workout.
For many athletes, cross-training can be a great way to build aerobic base and fitness generally, but it shouldn’t come at the detriment of their running training. Cross-training should hit a sweet spot that’s enjoyable and productive and doesn’t make you sore or tired for your runs. Hiking, biking and yoga are all great options. Think of your cross-training day as a fun opportunity to embrace your full athletic self without the pressure to run, while still prioritizing the running long-term.
Strength training, while an important part of athletic growth and injury prevention, also shouldn’t ever negatively impact your running. If it ever makes you feel sore or tired, it’s too much to support your training. This quick and easy routine is a great place to start.