Get in the best 10K to half-marathon off-road running shape of your life!
NOTE: Before beginning this training program, runners should be running a minimum of 5 miles a day four times per week.
The spring racing season is right around the corner and runners across the country are gearing up for off-road running events ranging from the 10K to half marathon.
From a fitness standpoint, tackling an off-road 10K or half marathon isn’t any different than preparing to race these classic distances on the roads. Long runs are just as long, challenging interval workouts on the track are equally as important, and there’s still a time and a place for tough tempo runs to get you primed for racing.
The technical skill set required to race well on the trails, however, is quite different. While road racing allows you the luxury of trusting your steps and locking into a steady rhythm, off-road races are full of rocky trails, exposed roots, uneven footing and wild fluctuations in pace. Unlike the road, you’ll have to move laterally to avoid obstacles, and your feet and ankles will need improved strength to handle the tricky terrain.
So how do you meld the two together? It’s as easy as introducing a few off-road runs and workouts into your weekly training schedule. By completing some of your easy runs on trails and substituting a measured track workout for a timed fartlek session on the grass, you can simultaneously improve your fitness, lower-leg strength and off-road running skills.
The 10-week training plan in this “Blueprint” will get you in the best on or off-road 10K to half marathon shape of your life. There’s enough off-road exposure built into the training schedule that transferring your hard-earned fitness from road to trail will be as easy as switching your racing flats for a pair of trail running shoes.
A version of this training plan appeared in the August 2011 issue of Competitor magazine.