Simply put, trail running focuses on technique, balance, stability, and strength. Often a difficult trail will require you slow down, shorten your stride, and run more on your toes. Conversely road (treadmill or flat surface) running allows you to work on pacing, distance, higher intensity bouts without the need to be so conscious of changing terrain. Here are a few trail running workouts to try. Mix these in with your flat road runs to develop strength, balance, stamina, and to work on technique.
Steep, technical trails: Attack short, steep up-hills, bound over roots and rocks, fly downhill where safe. Jog at a recovery pace between explosive bouts, focus on technique and a shorter stride.
Moderately hilly trails: Do a mixed run with short bursts of 45 to 90 seconds hard running followed by the same duration of slow jogging or walking, use the natural terrain as a guide for timing. Focus on maintaining good form even when fatigued and key in on power and efficiency rather than speed.
Rolling hill trails: Run easy for the first half and run pick up your pace for the second half, making these longer intervals and closer to each other in intensity. Not as high intensity on the speed work and not as low on the recovery.
Not a runner? The idea of integrating different training modalities into an existing “routine” is not new, it is an old scientific principle called the S.A.I.D Principle (Specific Adaptation for Imposed Demand), in simple terms means that after a period of exposure to the same stimulus, your body will adapt to it. So if you are looking to get more out of your training, perhaps a change is necessary. Try adding in different training techniques, changing the duration or intensity to something out of the ordinary for your regular routine.