CATHalf Training Program

Trail Running

Thinking about running the 2019 CATs Trail Fest (CATHalf, Pounding Creek Marathon, Trail 10k)? The CATHalf Trail Half-Marathon Training ideal for folks new to trail running or longer distances, and is timed so that you complete your training just in time to taper for the CATHalf.

There will be some group runs on Saturdays. Stay in the loop by signing up for the Mailing List, via the CAT Facebook Group and the Event Calendar on this website. Interested in leading a run? Signup here.

Note: If you are not a CATs-member and have never signed our liability waiver, please do so before joining a group run. Click here for the waiver. 

CAT-Half Trail Half Marathon Training Plan Outline

Week of Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat Sun
8/19 1 hour easy 1 hour easy off 1 hour easy off trail long run 6 miles active recovery
8/26 1 hour easy 1 hour easy off 1 hour easy off trail long run 7 miles active recovery
9/2 1 hour easy workout threshold off 1 hour easy off trail long run 8 miles active recovery
9/9 1 hour easy 1 hour easy off 1 hour easy off trail long run 8 miles active recovery
9/16 1 hour easy workout hills off 1 hour easy off trail long run 10 miles active recovery
9/23 1 hour easy 1 hour easy off 1 hour easy off trail long run 11 miles active recovery
9/30 1 hour easy workout speed  off 1 hour easy off trail long run 12 miles active recovery
10/7 1 hour easy 1 hour easy off 1 hour easy off trail long run 10 miles active recovery
10/14 1 hour easy 1 hour easy off 1 hour easy off trail long run 6 miles active recovery
10/21 1 hour easy 1 hour easy off 30 mins easy off Race Day! active recovery

Now let’s adjust this outline for YOU:

  • Training plans like the one we have outlined above are very useful tools, giving runners a basic framework upon which to lay their weekly running plans in preparation for a specific event. The above plan is for a runner who is able to run 4 days a week. Note, this is not a high mileage plan – if you are newer to long-distance running, don’t worry! We want you to show up to the start line fresh and not “over-trained”. It is much better to show up to race day under-trained and healthy than over-trained and injured. If you are an experienced long-distance runner, please feel free to add time and miles to this basic framework to suit your abilities. 
  • If you can/prefer to run 5 days per week, we recommend that you make the “Active Recovery” day another “1 Hour Easy” run. We still recommend that you take two OFF days per week to let your body recover.  Feel free to do “Active recovery” (see below) on these days, but also feel free to take them completely off.  Remember, rest and recovery is just as important as the running in order to allow our bodies to adapt to our training!  And remember that your bed is one of your most important training tools!
  • Training plan outlines like ours above do have limits however because each individual runner’s fitness level, life schedule, and ability to adapt are so unique and different, that one single plan simply cannot fit everyone. Thus, it is very important that we modify the above plan to fit your unique abilities, preferences, and life schedule.
  • You can see from the above plan, that each week starts on a Monday and ends on a Sunday
  • The scheduled days above, of course, should be modified to your own life schedule. Some of us are better suited to doing longer runs during the week, and some of us cannot run on certain days of the week.  The key to scheduling your week is to make sure you are rested for your quality days.  So, ideally, you’d like to separate your workout from your long run by at least 2-3 days if possible, both before and after. 


  • “1 HOUR EASY” – These easy runs are meant to keep your legs moving and getting you more miles and time on your feet, however in the least taxing way. If you are currently only comfortable running 1-3 miles on your easy days, then walk for a mile to warm up and cool down.  Walking – at a brisk pace – is a great way to increase your running fitness with minimal additional stress.  Take the time – give yourself an hour for easy of these days, even if you only run 1-2 miles of the total distance (for example, 1 mile walk to warm up, then 2 miles of run/walk, then 1 mile walk cool down).  You are definitely worth giving yourself 1 hour!  Also, consider simply mixing up the run/walk the entire hour – ie, walk for 9 minutes and run for 1, or walk for 5 min and run for 5 minutes…  And for the running part, when we say “easy”, we mean “EASY”!  Do not worry about your pace on these runs!  It is best just not to look at pace!!  Instead, focus on a SUPER EASY effort – even walk some uphills.  And don’t worry so much about mileage, but make sure you are out there and moving for an hour. These are your recovery runs, use them as such!  Last, as we are training for a trail race, do as many of these on your local or neighborhood trails as you can, or perhaps a mixture of road and trail. 
  • “ACTIVE RECOVERY” – For the 4-day per week runners, instead of taking Sunday completely off, get out and do some active recovery – active recovery is like a step below your easy runs. Good examples of this are hiking with the family or dogs, going to the park with friends, going on a really easy bike ride or a long walk,    You will find that you will recover from your long runs much better if you get out and move for at least an hour the next day. 
  • “WORKOUT” – These are your toughest days of the week. This is where you’re going to work on getting uncomfortable a little bit – whether SPEED workouts (track, fartleks – see below), THRESHOLD workouts (tempo running, cruise intervals), or HILL workouts, these will all get your legs turning over faster, get your heart rate and breathing up, and they will help you to become more fit – improving your running economy, your speed, your oxygen delivery, your strength, and your mental toughness.  Again, here is where you may want to modify this program – if you hate running at the track, or if running fast seems to make you really sore, maybe you should substitute for more hill workouts.  Alternatively, if your calves and glutes seem overworked from the hills, maybe you should throw in some more threshold running.  If doing workouts are new to you, just experiment, and err on the side of doing these too easy vs. too hard!  **Always start and end EVERY workout, regardless of type, with at least 1 mile of easy running/walking
  • Your workouts should take you anywhere from 45-60 minutes total, including the warm up and cool down.
  • HILL workouts: These are typically intervals run up hills, with easy recovery back down the hill.  There are many different variations, so play with these and find what works for you.  A few suggestions:
    • Hill repeats: Find a nice hill and let’s do some repeats!  Consider a workout such as 6 x 30 seconds, followed by 2-3 minutes rest – ie, run up the hill at a medium/hard effort for 30 seconds, then slow run back down and rest – then repeat.  You can make these shorter or longer, but try for consistent speed and time up the hill repeats.
    • Long Hill repeats: Find a long hill, ie one that is ½ to 2 miles long and do some repeats up the hill.  These will be slower efforts than the shorter repeats, but they will teach you endurance.  Again, be sure to pace yourself so you are not walking the top of the hill, or the last of the repeats. 
    • Short, steep repeats: Find a steeper hill and do 8-10 repeats of 5-15 seconds at a hard effort.  Walk back down and recover.
  • SPEED workouts: These are interval workouts – running relatively short intervals hard, followed by rest intervals, and repeating.  SPEED workouts should be run at a hard effort, think 85-90% effort.  However, pacing is important.  Your last intervals of the workout should be at the same intensity and pace as your first ones.  So, start easy and you will soon learn what a sustainable speed workout pace is.  Below are a few suggested workouts – but feel free to adjust these and have fun!  If you are new to speed workouts, EASE into them!
      • On the track – Warm up, then 6-8 x 400m, with a 200m recovery between each interval, and a 400m recovery after a set of 3-4, then cool down. (400m is one lap at the track, 200m is a half lap…  So, you will run one lap at a hard effort, and walk or really slow jog a ½ lap, then repeat.  After 3-4 intervals, take a full lap recovery and then start your second “set”)
      • On the track – Warm up, then a “ladder” workout – 4 x 200m with 200m recovery, then 2 x 400m with a 200m recovery, then 4 x 200m, then cool down.
      • On the road or trail – Warm up, then 10 “fartleks” – random intervals of fast running – just come up with some 30second-3 minute intervals – ie, “run to the stop sign up ahead”, or “from this crosswalk to the playground”…have fun with these and challenge yourself. Just be sure to give yourself an equal time of rest between the intevals.
  • THRESHOLD workouts: These are longer efforts of “uncomfortable” running, lasting anywhere from 3-6 miles during a workout.  If you use a heart rate monitor, these should be run at about 85-90% of your maximum heart rate.  If you’re going by effort, these are uncomfortable, and you are often only speaking 2-3 word sentences.  Some specific suggestions:
    • The tempo run: Warm up for 1.5 miles, then run 2-3 miles at the threshold/uncomfortable pace, then run 1-2 miles as a cool down.  You should be running the same pace during the entire tempo portion of the run, so try to pace it so your last mile of the tempo running is the same as the first. 
    • Cruise Intervals: Warm up for 1.5 miles, then run the same threshold pace, but only for 1 mile, then take a 30-60 second break of really easy jogging, then repeat another interval.  Do 2-3 “cruise intervals”
  • LONG RUN:  Your long runs are a very important part of your training, teaching you how to deal with “time on your feet”, and giving you more confidence to run longer and longer distances throughout your training program.  These runs should overall be really easy in effort and because we are training for a trail race, most of your long runs should be on trails to get your legs and mind used to trail running.  Don’t try to match your race pace, just go out and run a sustainable, easy pace for these runs and have fun.  Practice your needs for water and food (gels, etc), as well as your morning routine (ie, wake up, coffee, bathroom, etc…), so you get a good feel of your body’s rhythms in the morning!

Ok, now you have a lot of great tools to personalize your training plan, now get out there and run!  Please don’t hesitate to email either with any specific training questions.