Moutain Run Training Plan

How to experience the peaks without facing the troughs

– What is a tough mountain race?
– Visual tough mountain race training chart (printable)
– Coach’s tips
– Training drills
– Technique hacks
– Training tip: Psychology
– “I did it!”
– Vital kit
– Find out more

Others make do with conquering roads or hills. But that’s not good enough for you, is it?

You always have to go on step further, which is why you’re here, staring up at a mountain and mouthing the word ‘Oh’ followed by an obscenity.

You’re right to swear. The path ahead of you is long, tough and uneven. But it can be completed if you get your head down, focus and do exactly what our expert coach tells you to.

“Successful mountain runners need to address many components,” says Team GB mountain running coach Jackie Newton. “Because of this, I’ve created the following training plan that covers all of the necessary areas.”

Coach’s tips

“Because mountain running requires so many different fitness components, my Team GB mountain runners follow a periodised training programme, where we break the 12 months up into sections,” reveals Newton.

“During the winter, they will work on their physical strength and endurance in the gym, and their mental strength and endurance with a psychologist.

“Then, when the summer arrives and the competition approaches, their training becomes much more event specific. This allows them to set a goal for the race, which is crucial because then every training session has a purpose.

Gauntlet‘s training plan focuses on this key period and will ensure that you burst through the finish line with a smile on your face. But if you want to push yourself a bit harder, try working the following drills into your weekly regime.”


“Mountain runners needs to have very good core strength,” says Newton. “Good exercises for this are things like squats and deadlifts, as they work every muscles in the body.”

“The biggest mistakes most novice mountain runners make is trying to use their calves. Your calves might be able to power you up a hill for a minute, but they can’t get you up a mountain. You glutes, hamstrings and quads can, however. Build the strength in these big leg muscles by doing leg presses and box jumps.”

Your calves might be able to power you up a hill for a minute, but they can’t get you up a mountain

technique hacks




“Due to the uneven surfaces they are running on, mountain runners will regularly twist their ankles,” says Newton. “To combat this they need to build up the smaller stabilising muscles around their ankles by working on their static balance. Standing on one leg and throwing a ball to a partner is a great way of doing this.”

“If you’ve mastered the skill of throwing the ball on one leg, you can make the exercise more difficult, and effective, by doing it while standing on a bosu ball. This can be dangerous to start with, so make sure the bosu ball is on a crash mat.”

“The first two exercises boost your stability, but since you’ll be planting your feet while on the move, it’s also important to work on your dynamic stability. A good exercise for this involves hopping from side-to-side. Start with five sets of 10 reps each side, then work up from there.”


“I’ve never been sporty and only took up running four years ago,” reveals Carrie Craig, 34, who recently finished the Trans Alpine Run.

“Now, four years on, I’ve gained lots of friends, visited numerous fantastic country pubs, and completed challenges I never would have thought possible.

“The greatest of these was this year’s Trans Alpine Run, a  100+km, seven-stage race that sees runners take on the highest peaks in the Alps.

“I’m not going to say it was easy, because the blisters on my feet and the aching in the lower back tell a different story, but thanks to the support of my fellow competitors and the training I’d done beforehand, I will say that I never, ever doubted my ability to get to the finish line.

“When I did, the elation was overwhelming. I’m serious. It was such a rush, I actually broke down and cried at the scale of my achievement. It was incredible, but it isn’t the end of my adventures. Oh no. I want more, so will be back out, working up a sweat, on the trails next week.”

The elation was overwhelming. It was such a rush, I broke down and cried at my achievement


– Choose a mountain race from our list to tackle with friends

– See our all our latest mountain race articles

– Share this mountain race training plan with a friend who’d find it handy

– Any of your own tips for taking on mountain races that would be useful for other people? Drop them in the comments below


Tell Project Gauntlet what issues or barriers you’ve got with mountain race training

Where can I find lists of great UK mountain racing routes?

Our comprehensive guide to mountain race tricks

Project Gauntlet’s ultimate guide to solving your mountain race injury and pain problems

The ultimate mountain race further-reading resource: The best blogs, forums and personal trainers

Mountain race training meal guide

Never suffer runner’s nipple again

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