Uphill strength for trail runners: 12-week training plan (all distances, intermediate to advanced)

Average Weekly Training Hours 07:46
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 07:46
Training Load By Week

This training plan is designed for trail runners that face uphill running in training and racing and want to become better. The plan covers the power-building phase, therefore I suggest jumping straight into training if you already have some experience in running and have reasonably good overall running base.

‘Uphill strength for trail runners’ was developed based on my personal experience and understanding of how to progressively approach uphill training. For that reason, you will find the initial weeks will focus more on short and explosive uphill efforts and repetition intervals. The following weeks will lead you through a series of workouts that concentrate on improving cardiovascular capacity (yes, we need a good “engine” to run well uphill), and, finally, the last 4 weeks will combine both elements and will challenge you with much longer uphill intervals.

The goal for me was always to have the ability to maintain good running technique and high exercise intensity for a 30-60min continuous uphill climb. This requires consistent training and good overall physical fitness. Therefore, along with running workouts in this training plan, include general fitness training into your weekly training routine. You will find several suggested exercises that are important for uphill running in this training program as well.

You will start loving hills very soon!

Sample Day 1
1:00:00
7.46mi
Easy run (road/trail)

Welcome to your first workout!
60-80min easy pace run on trails or road.
[45min for lighter option]

Most easy runs (in the 40-to-90 mins range) are important to build good overall running fitness. For advanced runners using this plan, you can always make those runs longer based on a goal race your are training for, which will help to accumulate necessary mileage. For beginner runners, use those easy days to recover after higher intensity sessions.

Sample Day 2
1:00:00
6.21mi
Stairs 15(20)x30''

Stairs workout!
This is a great conditioning workout that will make you more prepared for longer uphill efforts.

While you run uphill, concentrate on high step rate, stable and tight upper body, help with good arm swing. Muscles that have to start "burning" during this session - glutes and hamstrings, not quads.

Sample Day 3
0:45:00
Strength & Conditioning - Core

Start each exercise routine with a set of bodyweight exercises to warm up
Push ups x 10
Body weight squats x 10
Lunges x 10 (both sides)
Plank or Hollow rock hold (3x30sec)

Choose 3-4 main set exercises for your session.
Aim to complete 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions for each exercise.
Main set:
Bird Dog
Overhead straight leg sit-up
Mountain Climbers
Burpees
Bear walk (straight legs)
Squat Jump
Abdominal Plate Twists (you will need weight for this exercise)
Shoulder Tap Plank

Sample Day 4
1:15:00
9.32mi
Trail Fartlek with 30-60'' intervals

Fartlek means 'speed play', a type of running session when harder running intervals alternate with running at easy pace. Usually, harder efforts last approx. 20 sec to 5 minutes with various duration recovery between intervals. For this session start from shorter 30-to-60s intervals.

If your Fartlek session’s structure is well defined try to follow it. However, if it is ‘freestyle’ Fartlek – choose the duration for harder intervals and recovery by yourself. Fartlek is very specific workout for trail runners because it forces to change running pace rapidly.

WU 10-15min easy pace running
Main set: approximately 10-15 fartlek intervals (flat + uphill)
Cool down: 10-15min easy pace running

Distance: 10 to 15K

Sample Day 5
1:00:00
7.46mi
Recovery day or easy run (road/trails)

60min easy pace run on roads or trails
[alternative option: recovery day]

Sample Day 5
0:45:00
Strength & Conditioning - Lower body

Start each exercise routine with a set of bodyweight exercises to warm up
Push ups x 10
Body weight squats x 10
Lunges x 10 (both sides)
Plank or Hollow rock hold (3x30sec)

Choose 3-4 main set exercises for your session.
Aim to complete 3 sets of 8-12 repetitions for each exercise.
Main set:
Glute Bridge
High step up (using plyo box)
Sumo walk with elastic band
Goblet squat (holding any weight in front of your body)
Squat-Jump
Lying clam with elastic band
Kettlebell swing (need kettlebells or dumbbell for this exercise)
Hip Thrust (weights necessary for this exercise)
Lunges (with added weight in hands)

Sample Day 6
2:00:00
11.18mi
Long 2-hrs trail run

120min trail run at easy pace
Vertical ascent: 500 to 700mD+
[easier option: 1hr trail run]

Andrius Ramonas
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Andrius Ramonas - Running Performance Coaching

Running Performance Coaching by coach Andrius Ramonas is here to bring you many years of expertise in competitive road and trail running, exercise physiology, nutrition and sports medicine.

I coach athletes of all levels and can offer you:

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