Become a Woods Warrior With This Trail Running Workout
What do our early ancestors, wild apes, and the legendary Tarahumara tribe runners have in common? They all got buff outside. Between trees, ravines, and uneven terrain, Mother Nature has been putting together the toughest WODs around for a long time.
Just ask Aimee Morey of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who says she hasn’t done a single running workout indoors for the last six years.
“You get stagnant when you do the same workout over and over again,” Morey says. “Your brain gets stagnant, your legs get stagnant.”
She says some of her favorite workouts have been in the dark, in the snow, and in the middle of nowhere. She takes the mindset that the gym is everywhere, and how your body feels is more important than what the stopwatch says.
“When you stop being focused on the time and just try to do an effort repeat it trains your brain to think about how you feel,” Morey says. “You never know what conditions you’re going to get.”
Whether you’re adding some spice to the end of your trail run, saving a few bucks on a gym membership, or just want to add a little fresh air to your next weekend sufferfest, here’s how to make nature work for you.
Set Your Course
Before you start your wild workout, take ten minutes to set up a semi-tame course. Look for a log sturdy enough to jump up and down on, a branch with enough room for sloth crawls, a log or rock you can carry for lunges, and spaces for incline pushups and brush drags.
Lastly, don't forget to keep an eye out for potholes or any poison oak or ivy along the trail.
This is designed as a circuit. Plan on doing two rounds if you’re doing this after a tough trail run, three rounds for a 20-minute power workout, or five rounds if you’re getting the gang together for some true pain.
Walking Log Lunges (15 on each leg)
Find a log you can carry relatively comfortably and a moderately clear space. Hold it either behind your shoulders or straight up above your head with locked arms, then step forward with your right leg until your left knee is nearly touching the ground. Repeat with your left leg, always making forward progress.
Sloth Crawl (6-8 feet up, 6-8 feet down)
Find a leaning tree or large branch that is nearly horizontal, thick enough not to break but not so thick you can’t hold yourself up with your hands. Pull yourself up so you’re hanging with your arms and legs like a sloth. Going hand over hand and shuffling your feet forward, move yourself 6-8 feet up the branch, then reverse direction and return to your starting position.
Brush Drag (100 yards)
Find a relatively open space and a long, heavy branch with leaves or smaller branches at the end (imagine a broom). Hold the non-leafy end of the branch in both hands, then run backwards for 100 yards, dragging the branch across the ground so that it catches in the grass or underbrush and provides variable resistance.
Incline Tree Pushup (15)
Walk your feet up the trunk of a large tree and perform incline pushups, keeping your back straight.
Stump Jump (20)
Find a flat stump, stable log, or sturdy rock 1-2 feet high. Explosively jump up, landing with both feet on the surface, then jump back down and repeat.
Your friends and coworkers always appreciate it when you shower after a workout (we called them and asked), but it’s essential after you hit the woods. Washing with soap and water promptly will remove urushiol, the irritating oil that gives poison ivy and its relatives their sting.
Burning lungs and aching quads aside, nothing beats the epic scenery when you take your workout outside. A little creativity goes a long way to transform the woods into your personal gym, picturesque vistas included free of charge.
How do you turn the outdoors into your personal gym? Let us know by tweeting @Reebok!