Here’s what I’ve learned about trail running in the last 8 months of working with a coach and training for my first 50k.
Long, slow runs are everything. I spend something like 90% of my time running Zone 1 and Zone 2, punctuated with a handful of strides each session. This builds aerobic capacity and endurance. It is counter-intuitive at first because running is supposed to be challenging. Running easy feels weird until you’re used to it. Before coaching, 90% of my sessions were near the upper end of my threshold.
Heartrate and Threshold are more important to track than pace. The common misconception when you want to run faster is to focus on how fast you’re running. Wrong. Better to focus on what your heart is doing in relation to your lactate threshold.
Supercompensation is the state of active recovery where your capacity surges beyond the previous steady state. If your sequence workouts carefully, you balance recovery time such that you can enter 2-3 supercompensation cycles every week. The compounding effect of these micro-cycles is what drives up your ability to soak up greater running volumes without injury or distress.
Train slow, race fast. Continuing the theme, the best time to give full effort is during a race, preferably in the second half. I started training so I could learn how to race bigger distances without blowing up, after having a 10km where I very nearly puked at the halfway point.
Strides are short bursts of speed, usually 20-30 seconds, where you run at a 7/8ths of your max pace.