Urban Workouts for Trail Runners


By Rick Morris


Trail running will spoil you. You just can beat the pure joy of running on scenic and tranquil trails with their always changing terrain and challenging elevation variations. The wide range of trail surfaces, slope changes and weather conditions present fun but formidable challenges to a trail runner. The most efficient and task specific way to train your body to meet those challenges is through frequent trail running. The problem is that you are probably not able to hit the more extreme and remote trails for training runs as often as you would like. So, you need to make do with training on urban or suburban roads and trails. Here are a few urban training runs you can do that, while not quite as efficient as actual backcountry trail running, they do a good job of training your body for your backcountry runs.




























Golf Course Gallop


Golf has become a very popular sport. That's something that you can take advantage of as a trail runner. Many golf courses have frequent changes in terrain and elevation that come close to mimics those of a back country trail. That, combined with the soft and less stable grass surface of the golf course makes a golf course gallop a great way to train for trail running. Winter time when the golf courses are closed present a great opportunity to get in some quality training. If you head to your local golf course during golf season try to go before or after the golfers hit the links. Golf courses are dangerous places when the balls are flying around.

To perform your golf course gallop run between 2 and 6 miles at around tempo pace. You could also to both shorter and longer runs at your easy endurance pace for more relaxed or off day run.


Golf Course Repeats


The wide open spaces of the golf course make them ideal and tempting locations for your longer tempo and endurance runs, but you can also do some great fast repeats or interval training sessions. Start on hole number one. Run at a very fast pace, between mile and 5K pace, from the tee box to the green. Now jog at a very easy pace to the hole two tee box and run to the second green at a very hard pace. Keep repeating this for your desired number of holes. You could add some variety to this workout by changing your paces. For example run the first hole at mile pace, the second at 10K pace, the third at 5K pace, the fourth at sprint pace... well, you get the idea.


Infield Striders


The 400 meter track isn't the only place you can run at your area track. Hit the infield for a high quality training run that will help train you for the trails. Warm up with a mile of easy running around the outside of the infield. Now run  an acceleration stride diagonally across the infield. Jog the end line for some recovery and then run another acceleration stride diagonally the other way across the infield. Jog the end line back to your starting point. Keep following that pattern for 6 to 12 total repeats.


Park Fartlek


Your area park may not be quite the same as a back country trail but it does provide you with a similar, slightly unstable running surface. Go to your local park and do a 20 to 60 minute fartlek run in which you change paces frequently. Not only is the running surface similar to trail running but you will be following the frequent pace changes that are common with back country trail running.


Urban Cross Country


This one is a fun and unstructured tempo run that you can do nearly anywhere. There aren't many rules to this training run. Just head out and run for between 20 and 90 minutes. Try to run over a variety of surfaces and terrains. Run on some roads, through some fields, up and down any hills you find, through some parks, whatever you can find to add variety to your run. The only rules are to run at tempo pace and don't spend a lot of time on one type of terrain.




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