How to Train for Trail Running Without Trails

How to Train for Trail Running Without Trails

Estimated read time: 3 minutes.

For many runners, the key to a successful training regimen is variety. That’s why trail running has become such a popular option in recent years; it provides a change of scenery and a new challenge that can help runners avoid plateaus in their training. But what do you do if you don’t have access to trails? Is it still possible to train for trail running without ever setting foot on a dirt path?

The answer is yes! With a little creativity, you can train for trail running even if the closest thing to a nature trail is the local park. Here are some tips on how to do it: 

Get Off the Beaten Path

Just because there aren’t any trails doesn’t mean you can’t get off the pavement. Look for dirt roads, fire roads, or even just grassy areas where you can run without worrying about cars or pedestrians. Getting out of the concrete jungle will help you feel like you’re getting away from it all, even if you’re not technically on a trail. 

Change Up Your Routes

If you usually run the same route daily, try mixing things up and running a different route each time you head out. This will force you to pay more attention to your surroundings and give your mind a break from the monotony of always running the same streets. In addition, varying your routes will also work different muscles and help avoid overuse injuries.

Find Some Hills

Hill workouts are essential for any trail runner, so if there are no hills where you live, look for stairs instead. Running stairs is a great way to mimic the effort required for climbing hills on trails, and it can be done almost anywhere. Whether it’s stadium bleachers or the steps leading up to your office building, find some stairs and get climbing!

Practice Running Downhill

Running downhill can be tough on your knees, so it’s important to practice before you hit the trails. A great way to do this is by first finding a set of stairs and running down them slowly. As you become more comfortable, you can increase your speed. Just be cautious and go at your own pace—you don’t want to risk injury!

Incline Treadmill Training

If you have access to a treadmill, you can use it to simulate the uphill sections of trail running. Simply set the incline to a challenging level and get to work! This is a great way to mix up your treadmill workouts and make them more challenging.

Interval Training

Interval training is a great way to prepare for the varied pace of trail running. By alternating between periods of fast running and slower recovery jog or walk, you can mimic the ups and downs of a trail run, which will help your body get used to changing speeds on the fly.

Strengthen Your Lower Body Muscles

Strong lower body muscles are essential for trail running because they help stabilize your joints and protect your knees from impact. Try doing exercises such as squats, lunges, and calf raises to strengthen your lower body muscles. Incorporating strength training into your routine will not only make you a better runner, but it will also help reduce your risk of injury.


With a little bit of creativity, you can train for trail running even if there are no trails where you live. Get off the pavement, change your routes, and find some hills (or stairs) to help simulate the conditions you’ll encounter on race day.


How can I find dirt roads or fire roads to run on?

A good place to start is by looking at a map of your area. Once you’ve found some potential routes, get in the car and drive around to see if they’re actually accessible for running. If not, don’t worry! There are bound to be other options nearby.

What if there are no hills or stairs near me?

If you live in a completely flat area, you can still do hill workouts on a treadmill. Just set the incline to a challenging level and run for a few minutes at a time. 
You can also try running in the sand if you have access to a beach. The added resistance will help simulate the effort required for climbing hills.

Joseph Peele