How to improve it without leaving the city

Trail running is one of the most addictive forms of running and one of the most popular with passionate runners. It is really popular and participation in all kinds of events is massive. But if there is one thing that sets it apart from conventional running or running on foot, it is its technical aspect and the added difficulty of running in steep areas. It is obvious that in order to perform with a certain degree of efficiency in this modality, it is necessary to acquire a technical apprenticeship to advance between stones, steps, roots, steep slopes and all kinds of natural elements that mean that one stride is never the same as the previous one.

To improve this technique, there is nothing better than practising and doing so in the natural environment of these events, that is to say, carrying out training sessions in the mountains.

It happens, however, that not all of us have enough time to go to nature and the mountains in our daily lives to practice and improve this technique. For this reason, it can be practical and effective for many runners to train at their usual places of residence without giving up on improving their technique. This can be achieved by following some tips and training in certain places that we can all find in our cities.

Urban parks are the key.

You may not have realised it, but in almost every city there is a place that is ideal for practising and developing the specific trail running technique  

We are referring to urban parks. To a greater or lesser extent, these spaces reserved for the leisure of citizens offer many possibilities for training, obstacles and structures similar to those found in a mountain race. Working with these obstacles in the park will therefore improve the qualities needed to overcome them, in the park or also when we are running on a trail. 

Let’s take a look at some of these elements that we find in the parks and that can help us to improve our running on the trails.


Concrete, wooden, natural, you can find all kinds of them in many parks. They are made for pedestrians to overcome the unevenness of hills or different levels, but for a runner they can be the ideal place to work on strength and power on the uphill or the precision of footing and running technique on the downhill.

Exercises with steps

1 Climb steps randomly and at a steady pace in the middle of your continuous run.

2 Climb short flights of steps, alternating between different numbers of steps with each stride. Climbing two by two, three by three steps, etc.

3 Climb flights of steps with both legs simultaneously, jumping on two legs. We can also try increasing the number of steps we jump.

4 Descend steps in a controlled manner, running on foot. We can go down by descending two steps at a time, for example.


In the form of hills, ramps, paths. These are common places in parks with changes of slope. Training on them allows us to work our aerobic system more intensely, but also to improve our anaerobic capacity and muscle power.

Exercises with slopes

1 Continuous moderate-intensity run, increasing the pace only in the steep sections (short and steep slopes)

2 Repeatedly climb the same climb, the uphill section at the maximum possible speed and recovering on the downhill section.

3 Climb uphill by lengthening the stride, trying to maximise power and length in each stride. For periods of no more than 30”.

4 Down slopes by trying different stride lengths and stride frequencies.

Uneven areas

We refer to grass, dirt or cobblestone surfaces that either have constantly changing slopes or also have surfaces full of different reliefs with roots, potholes, stones, etc. Running on these surfaces activates and strengthens the stabilising musculature of the foot, which has to adapt to a different surface with each stride.

Exercises with irregular areas

1 In continuous running, play with different stride lengths as long as you are in control of the movement.

2 Do the same but alternate different stride frequencies.

3 Running on uneven surfaces running straight ahead and laterally.


Parks often have low walls. Separations between zones. They are usually concrete walls no more than 30 or 40 cm high. They can be used to practise jumping, running over them to work on balance or to work on crossing obstacles

Wall exercises

1 Passing the walls in continuous running with support of one foot when passing over it.

2 Passing the walls in continuous running with both feet simultaneously when passing over the wall.

3 Jogging or walking some controlled distances over the wall if its surface is wide enough to allow stable movement.

4 Facing the wall, lower and raise yourself onto the surface of the wall using one leg and then the other.

5 If the wall is not too high, jump on it with both legs and without any previous impulse. Perform several sets of repetitions with breaks in between.

Sand areas

It is common to find sandy areas in parks, for children’s playgrounds or simply as decorative elements. Working on this surface, in a controlled manner, can help us to improve muscle power, adapt to the eccentric phase of muscle activity and improve running stability in uneven areas.

Exercises with sand

1 Within a continuous running session, spend a few minutes doing stretches of no more than 30” accelerating on a sandy surface. We can do several accelerations with different types (length and frequency) of stride

2 Perform skipping exercises with knees to chest or heels to glutes on sand benches, for short periods of time, from 20 to 40” alternating them with recoveries by rolling smoothly on a compact surface.

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