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10K Trail Race Training Plan

Matt Fitzgerald /

Never raced through the wilderness? It’s time to change that! Trail races are a thrilling change of pace from your everyday road race. It might seem a little scary to run through mud, climb up rocky trails and splash through creek beds—but trust us, it’s all part of the fun.

If you can run on roads, you can conquer trails—but it does take a little bit of specialized training. After your first dirt run, you’ll likely experience soreness in muscles you never knew you had. This is because uneven trail surfaces demand different muscles to not only propel you forward, but also keep you from toppling over.

The good news is you can be ready for your first 10K trail race in only eight weeks! Plus, the strength you gain from practicing on trails will translate to faster times when you hit the streets again.

Get Dirty

If you want your first trail-racing experience to be a good one, it is not enough to do some of your training on trails. You must also prepare specifically for hills and variable intensity.

The following eight-week plan for first-time trail runners incorporates all of these elements. This schedule includes three required workouts and three optional workouts per week. Try to do at least two of the three required workouts (it doesn’t matter which two) on trails. The other workouts may be done anywhere. By the end of two months, you’ll be ready to tackle an off-road race!


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