Trail Running Base Training (20 weeks) + Race Taper (4 weeks)

Average Weekly Training Hours 06:16
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 06:16
Training Load By Week

This plan provides a complete blueprint to help runners develop their endurance base in preparation for a target event in the 20K to 50K range. Although aimed at trail runners, it can equally be used to train for half marathons and marathons on the road. It assigns volume based on training hours and intensity based on heart rate training zones. The plan provides instructions and workouts to determine your individualized training zones, so no prior knowledge is needed.

The training adheres to the philosophy of building the aerobic base while simultaneously emphasizing the proper neuromuscular patterns needed to prepare the runner for higher intensity training later in the season. The plan also integrates a complete strength training program, moving from a general strength phase to a maximum strength phase to a muscular endurance phase.

The plan consists of five 4-week base training blocks that progressively build volume following a 3-up/1-down periodization schedule. The fourth week of each training block is dedicated to recovery and field tests. Runners who prefer a 2-up/1-down periodization schedule can easily adapt the plan by removing the second week of each 4-week training block for a 15-week base training program.

By the end of the 20-week base training progression, many runners will be ready to taper for their target event—and a 4-week tapering block is included for them. Other runners will be ready to move into a higher intensity build phase before their target event. For them, a separate 8-week Event Training Plan is available that picks up where the 20-week base training progression ends. Still others may choose to repeat some of the base training blocks if they have a longer season that requires more base training.

The plan—like any training plan—represents an initial draft, rather than a final document set in stone. You will write the final version over the coming months as you glean feedback from your training each week and adapt your training to your specific situation and goals. Depending upon the length of your target event, for example, you may wish to adjust up or down the duration of your weekly long run. Depending upon how much training you have been doing, you may wish to adjust up or down the starting week’s volume and progress accordingly. With that in mind, the plan provides guidelines each week on how to adjust the volume in relation to your previous week’s volume. After all, no matter where you want to go, you must start from where you are.

Consult the Alp Fitness website (alpfitness.com) for supplemental videos, tools and resources to use along with this plan. Train smart!

Sample Day 2
0:40:00
Run AeT HR Test

You should do this time trial in a fasted state. Do not eat for at least two hours before the test. Ideally, do the test in the morning after not eating since dinner the night before (about a 12-hour fast).

The course can be flat or up a steady 5-10% grade, but avoid a course with rolling hills. Choose a familiar course that you can return to each time you do this workout.

Do an easy warm up until you break a sweat.

Once you are warmed up, continue picking up your speed to increase your heart rate by about 5 beats per minute every 3 minutes while breathing only through your nose.

Continue to increase your pace until nose breathing becomes too difficult; then back off just enough to keep nose breathing for another 10-15 minutes. Record this 10-15-minute interval on your GPS/HR device.

NOTE: There is usually only a 2-4 bpm difference between easy breathing and unsustainable nose breathing.

RESULTS: The average HR you recorded during your 10-15-minute nose breathing interval represents your Aerobic Threshold Heart Rate (AeT HR).

IMPORTANT: All of your endurance base workouts should be at or below your AeT HR. So make a note of your AeT HR in your mind.

MORE BACKGROUND INFO: The AeT HR may or may not correspond directly to your Zone 2 HR range based off your lactate threshold (LT) heart rate. As your base develops, your AeT HR should get closer to your LT HR. Once these two are within 10% of each other, then you will be ready for higher intensity anaerobic work.

Sample Day 2
0:20:00
Runner's Core Routine

Perform 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps (or 30 second intervals) as a circuit—that is, rotating from one exercise to the next. Always perform exercises with perfect form. Add/subtract reps or time as needed to keep it challenging.

Add additional core exercises or make changes to this routine based on your needs and preferences.

For descriptions and demos of exercises, see https://www.alpfitness.com/category/functional-strength-videos/.

1. Superman
2. Front plank
3. Glute bridge
4. Side plank
5. Donkey kicks
6. Lying hip abductions

==================
ADVANCED ROUTINE
==================

1. Superman
2. Front plank with straight leg hip extension
3. Glute bridge
4. Side plank with hip abduction
5. Donkey kicks

Sample Day 3
0:30:00
19.99TSS
Run NB Easy+Drills

Easy recovery run to loosen you up for the key workouts of the week.

Run at a very comfortable, conversational pace while breathing easily through your nose (no mouth breathing). This will correspond to Zone 1.

Focus on keeping cadence between 168-190 steps per minute. If you count single steps, that's 28-30 left foot strikes per 20 seconds or 80-90 per minute.

After you are warmed up (broken a light sweat), do the following drills. Do each drill for about 40 meters. Repeat each drill 1-3 times.
1. Loosening Skips
2. Side Skips
3. Carioca, or Grapevine
4. Straight Leg Run
5. Butt Kicks
6. High Knees

================
1. LOOSENING SKIPS
Notes: Skip lightly while keeping your arms relaxed.
Next, add forward arm circles.
Switch to backward arm circles.
Switch to forward arm circles with both arms.
Switch to backward arm circles with both arms.
Finally, open up the chest with a cross-chest arm swing.
Skip for 20-40 meters for each phase.
See video demo:
http://www.alpfitness.com/video-loosening-skips/
================
2. SIDE SKIPS
Notes: Running takes place almost exclusively in the sagittal plane (flexion/extension) to propel the runner forward, yet muscles that operate in the frontal plane (abduction/adduction) play an important role as stabilizers. This drill builds strength and coordination among these stabilizing muscles.
For the side-to-side skip, skip side to side by bringing your feet together and then shoulder width apart. Let your arms cross over each other in front of the body as you skip.
See video demo:
http://www.alpfitness.com/video-side-skips/
================
3. CARIOCA, OR GRAPEVINE
Notes: Running takes place almost exclusively in the sagittal plane (flexion/extension) to propel the runner forward, yet muscles that operate in the frontal plane (abduction/adduction) play an important role as stabilizers. This drill builds strength and coordination among these stabilizing muscles.
As you move sideways, cross one leg over the other in front and then behind. Hold your arms out to the side to begin; as you start to get the hang of the drill, use your arms as you would while running. When you get the hang of that, try adding a high knee with the leg that crosses over in front.
See video demo:
http://www.alpfitness.com/video-carioca-or-grapevine/
================
4. STRAIGHT LEG RUN
Notes: The straight leg run is like the straight leg walk used during your dynamic warm up, only this time you are running. The straight leg run reinforces the important pawing motion practiced in the A-skip and B-skip. Start slowly and gradually increase your speed. Avoid the temptation to lean backwards—in other words, keep your upper body perpendicular to the ground as you run with straight legs. As your foot contacts the ground, finish with that same backwards pawing motion as you practiced in the other drills—squeeze the glutes and hamstrings as you pull back on the track.
See video demo:
http://www.alpfitness.com/video-straight-leg-run/
================
5. BUTT KICKS
Notes: Pull your heels up directly beneath you, keeping the knee, heel and toe up throughout the drill. Use the same arm motion during this drill as you use while running.
See video demo:
http://www.alpfitness.com/video-butt-kick-drill/
================
6. HIGH KNEES
Notes: The high knee drill works the loading phase of the run. The key to performing the drill correctly is to focus on driving the foot down and letting it spring back up off the ground (rather than lifting the knees). Use the same arm motion during this drill as you use while running.
See video demo:
http://www.alpfitness.com/video-high-knee-drill/
================

When finished, hold each of these stretches for 30 seconds each:
1. Wall Bent Knee Calf Stretch
2. Wall Straight Leg Calf Stretch
3. Standing Quadriceps Stretch
4. Standing Forward Bend
5. Standing Hip Flexor Stretch
6. Groin Stretch
7. Squat
For instructions, see https://www.alpfitness.com/six-essential-post-run-stretches/

In your post-workout comments, indicate how you felt with a letter grade:

A. Felt amazing; superhuman
B. Felt fairly good; decent workout
C. Felt a bit flat or off (e.g., heavy legs)
D. Had to stop early; didn't have it today
F. Could not train due to illness or fatigue

Write down any factors that may account for your rating above (e.g., took a nap yesterday, motivated by nice weather, had poor night's sleep, working longer hours this week).

Sample Day 3
0:40:00
General Strength

This General Strength workout will prepare you for Max Strength work and Muscular Endurance work later in the season.

Do 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps. Do each group as a circuit, rotating from one exercise to the next (you can rotate through all groups in one big circuit, if you’d prefer). Keep moving through the circuit and/or stretching between each set. This provides a more efficient and beneficial workout.

Always maintain perfect form with attention to safety. If in doubt on how to do an exercise, consult a trainer in the gym or choose an alternate exercise.

GROUP 1
a. Cable twist up-down
b. Good morning
c. Dumbbell Single Leg Split Squat

GROUP 2
a. Seated row
b. Dumbbell bench press
c. Lat pulldown

GROUP 3
a. Power clean
b. Dumbbell Prone Rear Delt Raise
c. Dumbbell Standing Lateral Raise

When finished, spend some time stretching. Hold each stretch for 3 minutes.

STRETCHES
a. Seated hamstring stretch
b. Groin stretch
c. Standing Quadriceps Stretch
d. Calf stretch

================
NON-GYM OPTIONS
================
If you don’t have access to a gym, you can do alternative exercises with equipment at home like stretch cords, a TRX, and a stability ball. These options are provided below.

GROUP 1
a. Front/side planks (do sets of 30 seconds)
b. Good morning (use body weight)
c. Single Leg Split Squat (use body weight or water jugs using a bench or stairs)

GROUP 2
a. TRX high row
b. TRX chest press or push-ups*
c. TRX low row
*Push-ups can be done with feet on a stability ball for more resistance

GROUP 3
a. Body squats
b. Hitchiker (prone position with thumbs up)
c. Lateral raises (stand on stretch cord)

For descriptions and demos of alternative non-gym exercises, see https://www.alpfitness.com/category/functional-strength-videos/.

====================
LINKS TO GYM DEMOS
====================

GROUP 1
a. https://exrx.net/WeightExercises/Obliques/CBUpDownTwist
b. https://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Hamstrings/BBGoodMorning
c. https://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Quadriceps/DBSingleLegSplitSquat

GROUP 2
a. https://exrx.net/WeightExercises/BackGeneral/CBSeatedRow or
b. https://exrx.net/WeightExercises/PectoralSternal/DBBenchPress
c. https://exrx.net/WeightExercises/LatissimusDorsi/CBFrontPulldown

GROUP 3
a. https://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/OlympicLifts/PowerClean
b. https://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/DeltoidPosterior/DBLyingRearLateralRaise
c. https://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/DeltoidLateral/DBLateralRaise

STRETCHES
a. https://exrx.net/Stretches/Hamstrings/Seated
b. https://www.exrx.net/Stretches/HipAdductors/LyingGroin
c. https://www.exrx.net/Stretches/Quadriceps/Standing
d. https://exrx.net/Stretches/Gastrocnemius/Wall

Sample Day 4
0:45:00
40TSS
Run NB End+Striders

Endurance run at or below your AeT (aerobic threshold) to develop your aerobic system and add to your training base. Your AeT is a conversational pace that you can sustain while breathing through your nose. Run at or below this pace for the run.

Note your AeT HR from your last AeT Test workout. This may or may not correspond to Zone 2 depending upon your fitness level. If you are unsure of your AeT HR, stay in Zone 2 to err on the conservative side.

After you are warmed up (broken a light sweat), find a good 100-meter straightaway where you can do some acceleration striders. Ideally, this will be a softer surface, such as a track, the infield of a track, a grassy area such as a park, or an even section of dirt trail. Do 4-12 acceleration striders with the wind at your back. Start off easy and gradually pick up your pace until you're at full speed. Hold it for up to 10 seconds. Then wind it back down. Focus on good form and leg turnover. The sprints are short and should not tax the anaerobic system too much, although they will work the muscular system. These are “feel good sprints” to develop the neuromuscular action needed for good form and faster running. Do an easy 200-300 meters or 2-3 minutes between each strider or until you feel fully recovered and ready for the next one. Don’t worry about time or HR on these. Try to maintain your nose breathing during the striders.

Focus on keeping cadence between 168-190 steps per minute. If you count single steps, that's 28-30 left foot strikes per 20 seconds or 80-90 per minute.

When finished, hold each of these stretches for 30 seconds each:
1. Wall Bent Knee Calf Stretch
2. Wall Straight Leg Calf Stretch
3. Standing Quadriceps Stretch
4. Standing Forward Bend
5. Standing Hip Flexor Stretch
6. Groin Stretch
7. Squat
For instructions, see https://www.alpfitness.com/six-essential-post-run-stretches/

In your post-workout comments, indicate how you felt with a letter grade:

A. Felt amazing; superhuman
B. Felt fairly good; decent workout
C. Felt a bit flat or off (e.g., heavy legs)
D. Had to stop early; didn't have it today
F. Could not train due to illness or fatigue

Write down any factors that may account for your rating above (e.g., took a nap yesterday, motivated by nice weather, had poor night's sleep, working longer hours this week).

Sample Day 5
0:40:00
General Strength

This General Strength workout will prepare you for Max Strength work and Muscular Endurance work later in the season.

Do 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps. Do each group as a circuit, rotating from one exercise to the next (you can rotate through all groups in one big circuit, if you’d prefer). Keep moving through the circuit and/or stretching between each set. This provides a more efficient and beneficial workout.

Always maintain perfect form with attention to safety. If in doubt on how to do an exercise, consult a trainer in the gym or choose an alternate exercise.

GROUP 1
a. Cable twist up-down
b. Good morning
c. Dumbbell Single Leg Split Squat

GROUP 2
a. Seated row
b. Dumbbell bench press
c. Lat pulldown

GROUP 3
a. Power clean
b. Dumbbell Prone Rear Delt Raise
c. Dumbbell Standing Lateral Raise

When finished, spend some time stretching. Hold each stretch for 3 minutes.

STRETCHES
a. Seated hamstring stretch
b. Groin stretch
c. Standing Quadriceps Stretch
d. Calf stretch

================
NON-GYM OPTIONS
================
If you don’t have access to a gym, you can do alternative exercises with equipment at home like stretch cords, a TRX, and a stability ball. These options are provided below.

GROUP 1
a. Front/side planks (do sets of 30 seconds)
b. Good morning (use body weight)
c. Single Leg Split Squat (use body weight or water jugs using a bench or stairs)

GROUP 2
a. TRX high row
b. TRX chest press or push-ups*
c. TRX low row
*Push-ups can be done with feet on a stability ball for more resistance

GROUP 3
a. Body squats
b. Hitchiker (prone position with thumbs up)
c. Lateral raises (stand on stretch cord)

For descriptions and demos of alternative non-gym exercises, see https://www.alpfitness.com/category/functional-strength-videos/.

====================
LINKS TO GYM DEMOS
====================

GROUP 1
a. https://exrx.net/WeightExercises/Obliques/CBUpDownTwist
b. https://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Hamstrings/BBGoodMorning
c. https://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/Quadriceps/DBSingleLegSplitSquat

GROUP 2
a. https://exrx.net/WeightExercises/BackGeneral/CBSeatedRow or
b. https://exrx.net/WeightExercises/PectoralSternal/DBBenchPress
c. https://exrx.net/WeightExercises/LatissimusDorsi/CBFrontPulldown

GROUP 3
a. https://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/OlympicLifts/PowerClean
b. https://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/DeltoidPosterior/DBLyingRearLateralRaise
c. https://www.exrx.net/WeightExercises/DeltoidLateral/DBLateralRaise

STRETCHES
a. https://exrx.net/Stretches/Hamstrings/Seated
b. https://www.exrx.net/Stretches/HipAdductors/LyingGroin
c. https://www.exrx.net/Stretches/Quadriceps/Standing
d. https://exrx.net/Stretches/Gastrocnemius/Wall

Sample Day 5
0:20:00
Runner's Core Routine

Perform 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps (or 30 second intervals) as a circuit—that is, rotating from one exercise to the next. Always perform exercises with perfect form. Add/subtract reps or time as needed to keep it challenging.

Add additional core exercises or make changes to this routine based on your needs and preferences.

For descriptions and demos of exercises, see https://www.alpfitness.com/category/functional-strength-videos/.

1. Superman
2. Front plank
3. Glute bridge
4. Side plank
5. Donkey kicks
6. Lying hip abductions

==================
ADVANCED ROUTINE
==================

1. Superman
2. Front plank with straight leg hip extension
3. Glute bridge
4. Side plank with hip abduction
5. Donkey kicks

Adam Hodges
|
Alp Fitness

Originally from Colorado, I’m now based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I offer training plans for triathletes, runners, and swimmers seeking personal growth through self-defined challenges, whether those involve races (e.g. Ironman 70.3, 50K trail runs) or solo adventures (e.g. fast-packing, mountaineering objectives). Learn more about the training approach in my book, “The Triathlete’s Training Guide,” and check out alpfitness.com for additional videos and articles to help you train smart.