Now with two months to the race you should be in the height of training. This should include, training hours, intensity of runs and including skill development.
Over the last 6 months you should have slowly increased your “training time”. Increasing both the number of hours per week and the length of your longest run. The values of what you have now is what you can play with for the next curial month. We do not need to keep pushing these lengths up anymore. If they are not where you hoped to be, that’s pretty much it. But that is not something to worry about, we will change the focus of training from now on and we can change the goal slightly if needed. What has happened up to this point is what you have, we can take the information on what it is and look forward.
The intensity of your training up to this point should be pretty low. A rough rule would be 80-90% of your training time at an effort that you can hold a discussion, with only a few minutes each week faster making it harder to think about anything else but running. With all this lower intensity training (great if running, ideally in the forest), you will have built up your body and muscle to cope with the training load. Now your body is used to running and exercising and the muscles know how to work, we can add a bit more intensity. (Think of it like, if you struggle to catch a ball, we wouldn’t expect you to jump straight into competitive basketball, well running is the same). But if we assume you have done a back log of running, we can start adding some faster running. Slowly introducing and developing.
Introduction no1 – Start with a speed you would expect to be able to hold for the whole course at Stockholm trail (for runners aiming at 5km = 20+min, 10km = 45+min and 21km 90+min) and do this for minutes or so (longer if it is very comfortable), then take some rest/recovery and repeat. Do not be scared of the rest between these faster sections, the goal is to develop your body and speed. Not to make you tired and break you down! Take the time to rest that you need, we call this time “recovery” for a reason. Not the time you think you need or what an external source tells you (a friend, your watch or even another internet coach ?). Trust your feelings, because sometimes even your mind will trick you. Learn to listen to your body, it will let you know when it is ready to go faster, and it will also let you know when it is not ready! A tired muscle is a weak muscle, weak muscles and are easily damaged. This introduction to faster running should feel pretty easy in reality. The reason we are doing this training so far out from the race is so if you get it a little wrong and make yourself too tired or hurt a muscle you still have plenty of time to recover and be ready for the race.
Introduction no2 – Another thing I would suggest is to add some short fast strides or rushes. These are 8-10sec running at a very fast run… But not a max sprint. These are supposed to be a lot faster than race speed to make your body used to being able to run faster. I would add a few of these to most training session (as long as you feel good (again not on tired muscles). Start by slowly accelerating for 5-10secs up to the feeling of a very fast run and hold it for another 8-10secs. Allow plenty of time to recover between each, a lot more time than you expect … I mean 4-10mins!! Remember this is an introduction to speed.
Remember that the goal of training for running or for a race is … to become better at running! A common misconception is that the goal of a training session is to make yourself as tired as possible, this will not make you better at running! If the next day you are very tired, ache or not able to run you did too much! Two or three runs are worth more than one that makes you too tired.
Running these sessions on trails that resemble the race terrain as close as possible will also increase your “skill” level. Your ability to run in tough terrain without getting as tired as quick will also increase. However, this may also make you more tired that you expect to consider this. You will need to forget your “watch speed” as this will differ massively to running on the road. And you may need to avoid higher effort as you could need more recovery time. Also if this is new to you, your skills and agility may not be ready to run fast. Again start at what you can manage and build up.