How to Become a Competitive Trail Runner with Abby Levene

Trail running helps runners in so many ways that every runner ought to be asking themselves, “How can I add more trails to my training!?”

Abby Leven Trail Running

Abby Levene trail running to the top of the world. Photo: Daniel Bichler

Getting on an off-road surface (the broadest definition of trail running) for more weekly miles can be a profound way to improve your training – even if you’re preparing for a road or track race.

Looking back on my college years, even during the indoor and outdoor track seasons we ran on trails (or grass and cinder paths) for a majority of our mileage.

It forces the questions: why run trails if you’re not preparing for a trail race?

Well, because of all the benefits of trail running!

Trail Running is More Fun

Forget the sidewalk or dodging cars on the road. What about dodging rocks, fallen trees, and surprising wildlife?

Why not expose yourself to the emotionally soothing benefits of nature?

Sounds like a much more interesting way to pass the miles!

Running Trails Prevents Injuries

Uneven terrain, more turns and hills, and obstacles like roots and technical ground make trail running a more athletically demanding activity than running on a smooth, concrete sidewalk.

And while it might be more difficult and a bit slower, that’s a good thing. All that technicality improves your ability to prevent injuries.

Trail Running Builds Athleticism

Part of the reason that trails help you prevent injuries is because you become more athletic (here’s how). You build agility, mobility, strength, and coordination by running more technical terrain.

And that athleticism improves your ability to stay healthy and run faster.

This trail running video explores these benefits even more (and discusses when you should stop running trails if you’re prepping for a long road race):

And I wanted to get the perspective of a great trail runner – a pro – on how we can get started with trails.

Enter: Abby Levene.

Abby Levene on the Trail Running Experience

Abby Levene is relatively new to the ultramarathon distance but has been racing for most of her life. She competed for the University of Colorado at Boulder as a grad student and has a background in the 5k and 10k.

But as it happens so frequently to Colorado residents, the mountains came calling. In just the last few years, Abby has made a name for herself as an Adidas sponsored trail runner.

And just about two weeks ago, Abby placed 5th at the renowned North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships in her first 50-mile race ever. Talk about a debut!

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • How track prepared her for long trail races,
  • How her love for trail running began in Boulder, CO
  • What her transition was like from the track to the trails
  • The mindset shifts that are necessary as you start trail running
  • Her advice for aspiring trail runners

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Abby is a genuine pleasure to hang out with and her joy for the sport of running is practically tangible. I hope you enjoy this conversation and if so, an honest review on Apple Music means a lot!

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