Do you hear that? That’s the sound of the trails calling your name! Nothing compares to the natural high of running on a trail, challenging your body and enjoying nature at the same time.
The isolation and the ability to go for miles without encountering the noise of the city streets is beyond incredible. As is climbing over logs, running up and down hills, getting dirty and feeling like a Lost Boy in “Peter Pan.” However, when hitting the trails, runners want to feel strong and capable of climbing rocks, making it down descents, slippery slopes, climbing over branches, navigating torques in the path and any unexpected shift. Trail running isn’t a steady linear path, but one that challenges a runner all the way down to their small stabilizing muscles. It requires a strong core, perception and also quick foot placement. Try the following exercises to help strength train for the trails awaiting you!
You will need a sturdy bench or plyometrics box.
Single Leg Step Ups and Heel Drops
Good for quad, glute and lower-leg strength.
In front of a bench, stand on your left leg and bring your right foot on top of the bench. Press down with your right foot, and drive your left leg to an upright, single leg standing position. Repeat with intensity for 10-20 reps. On the last rep, stand tall, drop the right toes behind the bench and lower towards the ground in a single leg drop. Stand tall, engaging the glutes. Repeat 10-20 reps, then repeat with the right leg.
Broad Jump Plyo Squats
Good for overall strength for jumping over logs, roots and other trail obstacles.
Face a bench with your feet greater than shoulder width apart and toes pointed slightly outward. Lower to a squat position and jump to a squat on the bench, then stand to a fully upright position on the bench. Repeat 10-20 reps.
Reverse Lunge with Knee Drive
Good for leg strength to help with uphill running and foot placement.
Standing tall, bring your right leg back behind your body to a lunge. While your left knee is bent at 90 degrees, your right leg should be extended with heel above toes. Standing with weight on left leg, drive your right leg forward, bringing knee towards chest. Repeat 10-20 reps. For an added challenge, add a jump with the left leg when driving the right knee.
Good for developing core stabilizer strength.
Standing tall, with arms extended overhead and core engaged, bend over to touch your toes. Walk hands in front of toes, continuing to walk them with hands under shoulders and form a plank position. Complete one to three push ups. Walk toes towards hands, rolling to full standing tall position. Repeat 10-20 reps.
See the previous blog post “3 Exercises Runners Can Do For Core Strength” here.
Try adding these exercises into your trail running training plan and let us know in the comments how your strength and racing improves!
Erin Kreitz Shirey owns Power Fitness PDX, is a nationally awarded personal trainer and fitness coach, health & fitness editor for Manilla.com and creator of the 21Day Challenge App. She holds a BS in Kinesiology, ACE, TRX, Stott Pilates Mat, Sports Nutrition and Fit to Deliver certified. When not teaching boot camps, presenting or training for triathlons you can find Erin biking with her family, while periodically stopping to make her kids laugh by doing the running man. Twitter @powerfitness, Facebook @DigDeepPlayHard and digdeepplayhard.com.