I have noticed over years of coaching both road and trail running athletes, one of the biggest differences when they start is their general idea of structured training. I don’t have scientific data backing for this observation, but it seems for the most part that road runners have an easier time sticking to a plan then trail runners do. My theory is that a lot of trail runners are more emotionally tied to their time training due to being somewhere scenic vs simply running along a road close to home. Because of this, trail athletes have a harder time getting a proper taper before an upcoming event. A taper is a reduction of training load during a variable period of time close to an event, in an effort to reduce physiological and psychological stress and to optimize performance. In layman’s terms - as your race gets closer, your training load decreases. There are many differing opinions on how to properly taper but a broad outline should look like this:
Start tapering 2 - 3 weeks out from your event.
Reduce your overall volume.
Reduce your overall volume of intensity but not the intensity itself.
If you choose to reduce frequency of runs, only do so slightly.
Maintain specificity toward your event, meaning environment and trail type.
It is better to toe the start line feeling rested and energized than feeling hammered and weak.