Crush Your First Trail Race With This 25K Training Plan

By Alex

If you’re an experienced road runner looking to switch things up, or a beginner looking to challenge yourself in a new way, a 25K trail race may be the perfect goal for you. 

However, it’s important to note that trail running requires a different set of skills and training than road running, and it’s important to be prepared before tackling this distance.

This training plan is designed for beginner trail runners who have some running experience under their belt and are looking to train for a 25K (15.5 mile) trail race. It assumes that you have a base level of fitness, but may not have much experience with trail running specifically.

Training for a 25K trail race requires a thoughtful and structured approach to avoid injury and ensure success on race day. 

A training plan can provide you with guidance on how to gradually increase your mileage, incorporate hill and trail work, and cross-train to build overall fitness and endurance.

Pros of Trail Half Marathon Vs. Road Half Marathon

Ready to leave those city slickers behind? You’re in good company. Here are 5 reasons we’re all about switching from road half marathons to trail half marathons and 25K races:

  • Scenic views – Trail half marathons often take place in nature and offer stunning views of mountains, forests, lakes, and rivers. This can make the running experience more enjoyable and memorable.
  • Lower impact – Trails tend to be softer and more forgiving on the joints than concrete or asphalt roads, which can reduce the risk of injury.
  • Increased challenge – Trail half marathons often involve more elevation changes, technical terrain, and obstacles than road races, which can provide a greater sense of accomplishment upon completion.
  • Quieter environment – Trail races often have fewer participants and less spectator support, creating a quieter and more peaceful running environment that can be appealing to some runners.
  • Improved mental focus – Trail running requires more mental focus and engagement than road running, as the terrain and surroundings are constantly changing. This can help improve your mental stamina and focus, which can be valuable in other areas of your life as well.

What’s The Difference Between A Half Marathon And A 25K Trail Race

If you’ve just finished up a half marathon and you’re looking for your next challenge, congratulations! Let us be the first to welcome you to trail run training. 

That said, trail running can at times feel like a different sport! If you’re looking forward to getting started on your training, let us first share what we’ve found the main differences to be:

  1. Distance – A half marathon is 13.1 miles (21.1K) while a 25K trail race is 15.5 miles (25K). This means that the 25K is slightly longer and will require additional training to build the necessary endurance.
  2. Terrain – A half marathon is typically run on paved roads, while a 25K trail race is run on dirt paths, rocky trails, and sometimes even through streams or over hills. This requires different training techniques and a different mindset when approaching the race.
  3. Elevation – Trail races often include more elevation changes than road races, meaning there will be more hills to climb and descend during the race. This can be more physically challenging but also more rewarding, as it offers stunning views and a sense of accomplishment upon completion.
  4. Technical ability – Trail races often require navigating technical terrain, such as rocky or root-filled trails, narrow paths, and uneven terrain. This requires greater focus and attention to footing, compared to running on a flat, smooth road.
  5. Equipment – Trail running shoes with thicker soles and better traction are usually required for trail races, compared to the shoes worn for road races. Additionally, hydration packs or handheld bottles may be necessary, depending on the race length and availability of aid stations on the course.

Overall, a 25K trail race presents different challenges and rewards than a half marathon. Trail racing requires greater attention to the terrain, a willingness to tackle challenging climbs and descents, and the ability to adapt to changing conditions. 

However, the sense of accomplishment upon completing a trail race can be even greater than finishing a road race.

About Our 25K Trail Race Training Plans 

Our 25K training plans are for beginning trail runners and first-time trail marathoners. You may have run a half-marathon on the road in the past, and are now looking to take on a trail challenge.

These trail race training plans are designed with a gradual buildup to get you ready for race day. 

8-Week 25K Training Plan

This is a relatively short timeline for training for a 25K trail run, so the focus would be on building endurance and strength while maintaining consistent mileage. The plan starts with a base mileage of around 15-20K per week, then gradually builds up to peak mileage of 30-35K per week. 

It includes a mix of easy runs, hill repeats, tempo runs, and long runs.

12-Week 25K Training Plan

With an additional four weeks of training, the plan can incorporate more gradual increases in mileage and more time for specific types of training. It’s ideal for beginners who are currently able to run about 15K per week.

For more advanced runners, this extra time can include more specific trail running workouts, such as longer hill repeats and more technical terrain.

Types of Trail Run Training Involved

Your 25k trail run training plan is going to be broken down into four styles of run training:

  • Easy/Recovery Runs
  • Hill Workouts
  • Tempo Runs
  • Long Runs

Let’s take a look at how each of these types of runs will get you in the right shape for your trail race.

Easy/Recovery Runs

These are low-intensity runs done at a comfortable pace, typically at least one to two minutes slower than your race pace. 

The purpose of these runs is to promote recovery, build aerobic endurance, and improve your body’s ability to utilize oxygen. These runs are also helpful for maintaining a consistent running routine without causing additional fatigue or strain on your body.

Hill Workouts

Hill workouts involve running uphill and downhill, and are designed to improve your strength, power, and endurance. 

Running hills forces your muscles to work harder, and can also help improve your running form and efficiency. Hill workouts can include hill repeats, where you run up a hill multiple times with a recovery period in between, or hill circuits where you alternate between uphill and downhill sections.

Tempo/Speed Workouts

These runs involve running at a faster pace than your normal running pace, typically at or slightly above your race pace. 

The purpose of these workouts is to improve your lactate threshold, which is the point at which your muscles start to accumulate lactic acid and fatigue sets in. By increasing your lactate threshold, you can maintain a faster pace for longer periods of time. Tempo runs can include steady-state runs, where you maintain a challenging pace for a set period of time, or intervals, where you alternate between periods of fast running and recovery.

Long Runs

Long runs are typically done at a slow, comfortable pace, and are designed to build endurance and improve your body’s ability to utilize fat as a fuel source. 

These runs are important for building the mental and physical toughness required for a long-distance race. Long runs also provide an opportunity to practice fueling and hydration strategies, and to test out gear and equipment that you plan to use on race day.

By incorporating these four types of runs into your trail run training plan, you can improve your overall fitness, build endurance, and prepare yourself for the demands of a trail race. 

It’s important to vary your workouts and give your body time to recover in between runs to avoid overtraining and injury.

8-Week 25K Trail Race Training Plan

Week 1 Training

  • Monday: 5.6K easy/recovery run
  • Wednesday: 4.8K tempo run
  • Friday: 6.4K easy/recovery run
  • Weekend Run: 7.2K tempo run

Weekly total: 24K or 14.91 miles

Week 2 Training

  • Monday: 6.4K easy/recovery run
  • Wednesday: 8K speed run
  • Friday: 5.6K easy/recovery run
  • Saturday: 9.6K speed run

Weekly total: 29.6K or 18.41 miles

Week 3 Training

  • Monday: 6.4K easy/recovery run
  • Wednesday: Hill repeats, approximately 6.4-8.0K total
  • Friday: 8K easy/recovery run
  • Saturday: 12.8K speed run

Weekly total: approximately 33.6-35.2K or 20.87-21.87 miles

Week 4 Training

  • Monday: 8K easy/recovery run
  • Wednesday: 11.2K speed run
  • Friday: 8K easy/recovery run
  • Saturday: 16K speed run

Weekly total: 43.2K or 26.84 miles

Week 5 Training

  • Monday: 6.4K easy/recovery run
  • Wednesday: Hill repeats, approximately 6.4-8.0K total
  • Friday: 8K easy/recovery run
  • Saturday: 19.2K speed run

Weekly total: approximately 41.6-43.2K or 25.85-26.84 miles

Week 6 Training

  • Monday: 8K easy/recovery run
  • Wednesday: 12.8K speed run
  • Friday: 6.4K easy/recovery run
  • Saturday: 16K speed run

Weekly total: 43.2K or 26.84 miles

Week 7 Training

  • Monday: 8K easy/recovery run
  • Wednesday: 6.4K slow run
  • Friday: 7.2K easy/recovery run
  • Saturday: 12.8K speed run

Weekly total: 34.4K or 21.37 miles

Week 8 Training

  • Monday: 9.6K easy/recovery run
  • Wednesday: 6.4K run
  • Friday: 4.8K easy/recovery run
  • Sunday: Race!

Weekly total: 21.6K or 13.42 miles (not including the race distance)

4-Week Base Building 

This is our first-time trail runner’s plan. To get yourself ready for the 8-week 25k trail run training plan, try these four weeks first.

Base Building Week 1

  • Monday: 3K easy run
  • Wednesday: 3K easy run
  • Friday: 4K easy run
  • Sunday: 5K easy run

Weekly total: 15K or 9.32 miles

Base Building Week 2

  • Monday: 3K easy run
  • Wednesday: 4K easy run
  • Friday: 4K easy run
  • Sunday: 7K easy run

Weekly total: 18K or 11.18 miles

Base Building Week 3

  • Monday: 4K easy run
  • Wednesday: 4K easy run
  • Friday: 5K easy run
  • Sunday: 8K easy run

Weekly total: 21K or 13.05 miles

Base Building Week 4

  • Monday: 4K easy run
  • Wednesday: 5K easy run
  • Friday: 5K easy run
  • Sunday: 10K easy run

Weekly total: 24K or 14.91 miles

After completing the base building segment, move on to the original 8-week training plan provided earlier. 

Download Our Free 25K Trail Race Training Plan

Ready to start hitting the trails and getting ready for your 25K race? Our 25K trail race training plan is available for free.

You can access the Google Sheets 25K trail race training plan here. There, you’ll find:

  • 25K trail race training plan in miles
  • 25K trail race training plan in kilometers
  • Log your own distances below to track your workouts!

To use this plan, just click the link, open the Google Sheets file, and click ‘Copy.’

Frequently Asked Questions About Training For A 25K Trail Race

Do I need different gear for trail running?

Trail running shoes are designed specifically for the demands of off-road terrain, with thicker soles and more aggressive tread for better traction. 

You may also want to consider wearing gaiters to keep debris out of your shoes.

How does trail running differ from road running?

Trail running involves more elevation changes, technical terrain, and obstacles than road running. 

You’ll need to be more aware of your footing and surroundings, and be prepared to slow down or walk in certain sections.

How long should I train for a 25K trail race?

Runners with a decent base can likely run a 25K trail race with about 8 weeks of training. Newer runners may need a training plan that’s 12 weeks long. Your training length may vary depending on your starting fitness level and goals.

Do I need to follow this plan exactly?

No, this plan is a guideline and can be adjusted to fit your schedule and needs. However, it’s important to prioritize rest and recovery, and not increase mileage too quickly to avoid injury.

About ALEX

Since that fateful night he decided to run the Rio de Janeiro Marathon the next day (without, you know, training), Alex has seen the joys and possibilities of combining running and traveling. Long Run Travel was born of that connection and is about helping runners to travel, travelers to run, and to make our exploration of the world a bit more responsible (while scoring some great views along the way).