Best trails near Denver for intermediate trail runners

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!

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Lauren’s Super Fun Short Format Hill Repeat Workout

This is a follow-up post from my late summer post “2 Tough workouts to help you conquer steep hills“.   There are many ways to format your hill training workouts depending on your fitness and goals.  My last post focused more on training for an endurance event (half marathon or longer) where you would be encountering long hills (1/2 mile or longer).   This post is more relevant to the everyday runner, OCR athlete and all looking to improve fitness, strength and running form (and more specifically for trail running)!

 

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Tips for choosing the right trail shoe

Have you ever ran on a trail that had a lot of gravel and loose rock where it felt like your feet were slipping out from underneath you, kind of like a car on slick ice?

I like to use the analogy of our body as a car when talking about trail running.  Your backside is your engine, your quads are your breaks and the type of “tires” you put on your feet will determine how well your body manages different trail conditions.

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Choosing the right trail shoe can make or break your trail running experience, we hope these tips help to “steer” you in the right direction!

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“Me and My Buddy” workout for trail runners and Obstacle course racers

This is a workout taken from Daily Outdoor Workouts, one of our sister sites.  Enjoy!

ME AND MY BUDDY

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.   – Helen Keller

NEEDED: 
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!

2 tough workouts that will help you to conquer steep hills

2 tough workouts that will help you to conquer steep hills

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!

Stair add-ons:

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).

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Are you a real trail runner?  How to find a “real” trail…

Are you a real trail runner? How to find a “real” trail…

Depending on who you talk to whether it be a city dweller or suburbanite the definition of a “trail run” can sound quite different.   Does a flat gravel trail winding through a city park for example “count” as a trail run?

In my definition there are several distinctive factors that determine whether or not you are a true trail runner, take the test below to find out where you stand:

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3 multi-trail adventure runs in front range Colorado

3 multi-trail adventure runs in front range Colorado

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!!

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The long road ahead: Why a long slow climb can make you a stronger, more efficient runner and the best long roads to train on 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.

leadville marathon pic
After finishing Leadville back in 2010

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.

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Fort Carson Spartan Super race recap: The good, the bad and the reality check

A couple of weekends ago I competed in my first obstacle race of the season and my first Spartan race in the elite category.

There have been plenty of people posting race reports recapping the event so I wanted to compose a post that details more about what worked and what didn’t in my training in the hopes there might be some takeaways that will help others properly prepare and train for such an event.

To start, let me say that you can never be perfectly prepared for any obstacle course race, let alone a Spartan race for that matter.  Even if the race is at the same venue year after year, the course and the obstacles themselves can change drastically.

I am also training for some long distance trail races, culminating with an ultra marathon run of the Grand Canyon or the Rim to Rim to Rim.  With 42 miles and 11,000 feet elevation gain, this is a Goliath of an event and so running will always take the priority when it comes to training.

My strategy back in 2015 was to train for speed.  I was having some pretty major health issues back then so I wasn’t able to really put in the time to build a good running base.  So I spent several hours a week doing crossfit classes and speed work on the track.  And it paid off, compared to this year I was definitely much stronger and faster.

me at fear the deer
Racing in the Fear the Deer trail 1/2 marathon. I placed 6th overall for females!

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Best Denver area parks for beginner trail runners

Best Denver area parks for beginner trail runners

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.

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South Valley Park
90 South Valley Rd., Littleton Read more