Trail running. It’s the leg burning, heart pumping activity that can be so exhausting yet so exhilarating at the same time. If you are just getting into the sport, imagining running up those steep, rocky trails that must be only meant for hikers seems like an intimidating endeavor. Knowing where to go is key so that you can train your lungs and legs for those high grade climbs and technical descents. After mastering our second round of trails appropriate for beginners you will be ready to to conquer any adventure this summer!
We are fortunate to live in a state with so many beautiful trails and a myriad of trail races to choose from. If you are new to the state or just getting into trail running and looking to take on your first trail race, choosing the best one compatible with your fitness and ability level can be a daunting task.
So we’ve made it easy for you!! We handpicked the best trail races suitable for beginner to intermediate trail runners in the front range and central mountains. We didn’t include races in Colorado Springs, the Western slope or southwest Colorado so feel free to share your favorites in these ares in the comments section below.
Elk Meadow trail race, June 3rd 2017:
- Includes a 5k and 10k option
The trails at Elk Meadow park are relatively tame and any climbing is done gradually through a series of switchbacks winding through the thick evergreen forests. The 5k course will mainly keep runners along the base of Bergen peak where you will run through beautiful open meadows filled with yellow and green grasses and wildflowers. The elevation here is the greatest challenge so make sure those lungs are ready for the higher altitude (around 8000 feet)
Learn more HERE.
Xterra Phillip S Miller Park, August 6th 2017
- Includes a 5k/10k and 20k course options.
The 5k course contains just 300 feet of climbing, enjoy rolling hills with short climbs and quick descents, perfect practice for those new to the trails. The trails are smooth and wind through bushes and brush with occasional scenic views of Pikes Peak and Castle Rock.
There is plenty to do for the entire family at this venue post run. The Philip S. Miller Park’s outdoor space includes a playground with 60-foot slide, a 200-step challenge staircase, a turf field, and the Headrush Towers—40-foot and 80-foot towers that kids can climb up, repel down, or even free fall from.
Learn more HERE.
You’ve conquered all of the beginner trail runs across the front range. Now it is time to raise the stakes a bit and try out some more technical terrain. In this post, we will highlight our 5 favorite trails appropriate for intermediate trail runners.
These runs were chosen because of their proximity to the greater Denver metro area (all within 20-40 minutes). There are many more amazing trails to explore further west (Conifer, Genesee, Idaho springs) north (Boulder, Longmont, Fort Collins) and South (Monument, CO springs) which we hope to cover in future posts.
Please share your favorites in the comment section below!
Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. – Helen Keller
A “Buddy” AKA: A rock, log or hand-weight that is 10% or more of your body weight.
COMPLETE THE FOLLOWING WITH YOUR “BUDDY”
Standard Strength warm-up and then….
- 3 mile hike/run
- 50 walking lunges
- 50 overhead presses
- 50 russian twists
- 50 ground to overhead squats
—-> The workout can be completed in any order, just don’t drop or put down your Buddy the entire workout!
—-> If you are really looking for a suffer fest, repeat the workout twice!
*A note from Lauren:
I came up with this workout when I was training for the Warrior Dash World championships race last summer. We drove up to Guanella pass (near the base of Mnt Bierstadt, a front range 14,000 foot peak) and I completed this workout at altitude. Whether you are training for an OCR event or just love trail running, this workout will help you gain strength and fitness to run stronger, longer!
Are hills your nemesis? Maybe you just can’t seem to catch your breath on the ups or are tentative on the downs. Try out these workouts to improve your skills and fitness so you can conquer those hills with confidence!
You need to find a location that has multiple flights of stairs. An office building, stadium or if you live in the Denver metro area Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
Stair work is one of the best ways to improve cardiovascular fitness but more importantly it helps to improve your motor skills and turnover (or cadence).
I love a good adventure. In fact, you could say my thirst for discovering new trails and desire to see what is around that next bend has been a driving force in my trail running career.
Finding a trail system (or multiple) that have sections of varying lengths you can link together is a great way to add mileage as your fitness level and skills on the trails increase. Check out my recommendations in the front range for beginner to advanced trail runners and please share in the comments below your favorite multi-trail adventures in Colorado!!
In exactly 5 days I will be running the Leadville trail marathon. I am not going to lie, I am terrified. I ran the event back in 2010 and loved every moment of it but due to some health setbacks I wasn’t able to train for the event as I had hoped this time around.
However, there is one silver lining: I know the course. Not only by memory but I took the time to really do my research this year. I calculated the average grade for all 3 long climbs. I looked at the finishing times for women the previous years and figured out what pace they were able to manage during certain sections of the course so I know what I am up against. And I have been training based off of this data.
Back in 2010 I distinctly remember my greatest weakness on the course: my power hiking skills. I had done a ton of trail running to train but very little power hiking. “Why hike when I could run?”, I wrongly assessed.
Trail running is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and for one main reason: it is so much fun! We are fortunate to live in a place with a myriad of park systems and literally hundreds of miles of trails right in our backyard. However, not all front range trails are suitable for beginners. Steep climbs, descents and technical terrain are a veteran trail runner’s delight but those new to trail running may find themselves beyond their ability level and at higher risk for injury.
So how to know where to start? We’ve compiled a list of the 7 best trails in Southwest Denver (within 20-30 minutes of Denver proper) for runners looking to hit the trails for the first time.
You love to run. Or maybe you don’t. Wherever you are on the spectrum, if you are planning on adding more mileage or training for an event, you need to make sure that your body is adequately prepared to take on the additional stresses running places on the body.
What do we mean by this?
When is the last time you sprinted? Or ran as fast as you could? (chasing after your kids doesn’t count)
Doing laps around the track may seem like torture to most people however, speed work is an important part of any training regime and is the key to getting fitter, faster.
Here are 3 fun track workouts you can do WITH your kids (or a sandbag) that will help you get through that finish line a little bit faster:
1. 400 meter repeats:
Okay, we lied. This one isn’t fun, in fact, it kind of sucks. But once it is over with you will have this amazing feeling of accomplishment that you haven’t felt since you finished ALL the laundry in one day.
In order to see results, you first need to know where you stand. So let’s start off with a little fitness test:
- 12 minute warm-up: Do each of the following for 1 minute and then repeat 1 more time through- walking, jogging, walking lunges, leg swings, arm circles, planks. THEN…
- Time yourself as you run 1 lap around the track as fast as you can (pushing your jogging stroller if you have one).
- Take a 90 second recovery and then repeat 4 more times. Ideally, each lap should be faster than the previous. *Make sure to take a 90 second break between each set.
Congratulations- you just ran over a mile!
2. Pull, drag and carry:
Okay, so now that you are “warmed up” it is time for the fun stuff. Before you head out the door, grab a sled. Yes, a sled, like the one you use in the snow. Make sure it has 2 handles. You will also need a rope that is about 10 feet long.
*Don’t have kids? Grab a sandbag or 2 for this drill
PULL: When you get to the field, tie the rope through both handles and tell your kids you are going to give them a “ride”. After they are seated, hold either end of the rope behind you and run as far/fast as you can! Do 10 sets.
DRAG: This time face your kids and walk/run backwards, dragging them along as far as you can. Repeat 10 times
CARRY: Have your child climb onto your back and give them a “piggy-back” ride for 100 meters. Try to run as fast as you can, don’t lean forward too much! Walk back to the start line and repeat 10 times. *No kids? Put the sandbag over your shoulders and complete this drill
Improving your speed isn’t all about running. You need strong muscles to run faster and to help prevent common running injuries.
Go through each exercise in order and then repeat 2 more times:
1. Weighted squats and walking lunges:
Place your child/sandbag on your shoulders and do 15 deep squats followed by 20 walking lunges.
2. Bear crawl:
Crawl 15 feet down and back with your kids!
3. Hold a plank:
Have your kids crawl under and climb over your body 15 times OR hold the plank for 3 minutes.