Cirque Series

Max King

Goal Race Distance

6-10 Miles


Technical trails with significant vertical


The Cirque Series is the premier short distance mountain running race series in the US with 6 different races on incredible terrain and challenging courses. You can check out the courses and get signed up at

This TRACER Program was designed by Max King specifically for the demands of Cirque Series races. Max has years of mountain experience, is the 2011 World Mountain Running Champion, and 2X winner of one of the world's most competitive steep mountain races, Mt. Marathon. There is no better mountain running coach than Max to get you ready for the Cirque Series!

This program’s focus is on short distance mountain running with the goal of increasing your mountain endurance, VO2max level on steep inclines, and ability to withstand the rigors of uphill and downhill terrain.

Throughout this program you’ll find a variety of easy hilly runs, long runs on race specific terrain, and workouts designed to prepare you for the Cirque Series. Follow the workout descriptions to the best of your ability and give the program feedback on your feelings of fatigue, soreness, and sickness/injury each day to tailor the program to your needs.


When signing up for the Cirque Series Program you should have a level of base fitness that matches with your goals for the race. You’ll be selecting your starting volume and the volume you will progress to throughout the program. While a level of base fitness will help you reach a higher level within the program it is not mandatory. You should choose the starting volume that matches your current volume (i.e. 5-7hrs) and an ending volume at or one level above your current volume (i.e. 5-7hrs or 7-10hrs).

How hard you would like to be pushed during the program is up to you. A casual level will decrease your intensity while pushing hard to the next level will increase the amount of intensity. Intensity is defined by how many performance based workouts you have throughout the week. If during the program you find that you are being pushed too hard or not enough, you can go back and adjust the level you are at by selecting a different answer to the onboarding questions.

While having natural hills and mountains within your vicinity is helpful for this program, it is not required. There are many ways to simulate hills. If you don’t have natural inclines nearby a treadmill is the next best option. Another option is dragging a weight or tire behind you while you run. Sounds silly but if it’s the only thing available it will work. While these options won’t simulate downhill pounding it will prepare you for the uphills.

Downhill endurance can be trained through a separate strength training program of lunges, squats and dynamic plyometrics.