Adjust Your Expectations

As a former road runner I understand how often we are concerned about our pace. Take a look at almost any training plan for running a road race (any distance) and the focus is training by running pace. The training schedule consists of tempo pace, speed workout pace, long run pace and of course your targeted race pace.

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When I transitioned over to the trails, pace was the first thing I had to let go of. The terrain will truly dictate your pace! This depends of course what trails you are running but generally speaking you will have service roads, single track, roots and rocky sections, hills, etc. All of these factors will determine what your overall pace will end up being.

The goal, especially when starting out, is to focus on time on your feet instead of overall pace. A training schedule on the trails might include easy mid-week runs (30min.+), possible speed intervals on road/flat trail, plus 2hr+ training runs on the weekend. In the beginning discovering a comfortable running “pace” is about running by feel.

You will eventually begin to figure out an approximate pace for yourself, but it’s not usually the primary focus. If you train on local trails you’ll discover what distance you can cover over a specific time. On average 4-6 miles (6-10 km) can be ran within an hour. You learn that going out for a 3hr long run means you will likely run 11-18miles (18-30kms) whatever becomes the “norm” for you.

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My advice is go out and enjoy the trails. Be consistent. Start out by maybe running one hour every weekend for a month and see what distance you are able to cover during that time. You’ll start to figure out what is the norm for you and that gives you a great starting place to build on for training.

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