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.