3 training types for trail runners stuck in a rut

Runners uploaded a massive 86.7 million sessions to Strava last year.

More and more people are pulling on their trainers and getting outside. And with the rise of adventure races and mud runs, we’ve seen growth in trail running too.

It’s a big deal! Runners are going wild. And for those bold enough to embrace the backcountry, there’s so much more to come.

Running off-road is a mean feat for many – it’s not easy! But with gusto, the right gear and the right training sidekick to guide the way, you too can be mean on your feet.

But there’s more to running than buying the kit and getting out the front door.

Stuck in a rut?

If you’re running the same distance, at the same pace, week in, week out, your body starts to adapt and plateau. Meaning you’ll find yourself simply going through the motions and likely lose all sense of progress.

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you” - Fred Devito

Reality is, if you want to improve cardiovascular capacity, strength and technique, you’re going to have to sweat for it.

So to get you started, we recommend combining these three different training types in one week (coupled with a day for recovery and another for rest and recuperation)…

1. Distance Running

It seems obvious, but you’re going to need to incorporate distance running into your training plan. Or, as Michael Wardian puts it, “If you want to be a great runner, you need to run”.

This is all about building up the miles and tolerance for the terrain. But don’t expect to be able to run 12-20 miles per day at the beginning. It takes patience to get there. So focus on improving your strength and endurance, whilst also paying close attention to your gait.

Build it up a little more each week without worrying about the clock. And once you’ve got your rhythm and plenty of miles under your belt, you can focus on beating your PB!

2. Cross Training

Used to help you build a solid foundation of fitness, cross training is something athletes from all disciplines rely on to build a solid core and upper body strength. By targeting different muscles on different days, you’ll establish an effective platform from which you can build your fitness upon – and stay injury free while you’re at it!

Exercise examples:

Resistance Training

Try compound movements like squats and deadlifts, or introduce resistance bands and BOSU boards to awaken muscles you didn’t even know you had. By focusing on your smaller, supporting muscles, you’re going to be able to avoid injury whilst out on the trails.  


Taking the time to stretch out and relieve aching muscles promotes enhanced mobility and teaches your muscles to move in different ways. This improved range of motion will help you to avoid injury, while offering improved support across tricky terrains.  


From broad jumps to frog jumps, jumps can be a full body workout in themselves. They demand momentum and raw power in short, sharp bursts. By focusing on quick, aggressive movements, you’ll be able to channel more energy into each stride and fight fatigue.

3. Interval Training

Interval training is a series of high intensity performance periods, followed by low intensity periods of exercises. For the best results, perform short (around 30-60 seconds), high intensity bursts close to your maximum threshold.

Once your heart rate is up and you’re feeling that lactic rush in your legs, slow down to allow yourself time to rest, by slow jogging or walking for 1-2 minutes. This will give you just enough time to recover before going all-out again.

Exercise examples:

Hill Sprints

Hill sprints consist of short, all-out runs up any kind of incline, followed by brief rest periods where you return to your start position. By teaching your body to expend less energy, this exercise trains both strength and stamina. Two skills that will enable you to cover more ground with each stride. And if you can’t make it outside to train one day, simply increase the incline on a treadmill.


Fartlek, the Swedish name for “speed play”, is a gruelling training exercise designed to build power and endurance. It combines fast and challenging periods with slower recovery paced efforts. To stop this session from becoming tedious, mix it up with rowing, running, and cycling.

Getting started is the hardest part

We’ll leave you with some valuable advice from Bob Glover: “Consistency requires discipline. Force yourself out of the door.” The recipe for progress is smart training, consistency and a strong head.

If you’re ready to up your pace? Click here to download your complete 12 week training plan.