All miles are not created equal. You'll do a lot more work on the trails than on the road. "Time on feet" is more accurate on trails than miles.
Ah, but trail is more challenging than road. You say, "you assigned me 8 miles; wouldn't it be more difficult to run the 8 miles on tougher trails?" "What if I do mostly trails in one week? Would that lead to overtraining?"
Well, yes. But there is a way to make sure you don't overtrain in case you wind up mostly on trails, especially the toughest trails.
I convert everything to "time on feet." Most coaches do assign "road miles" to their athletes, so a conversion to "time on feet" is needed.
The conversion that I find that works the best is "8 miles to one hour time on feet"...or basically 15 minutes every 2 miles.
It does amount to a 7:30 minute mile pace, which is very fast for a lot of people, but it does work out nicely to everyone who normally goes slower on the roads too, because trails present a very tough challenge to not just your legs, but your core muscles as well.
So, if I assign you 8 miles of running, these are road miles. If you decide to go on tough, rugged trails instead, you run for about an hour instead. Even if you do just 4 miles on the gnarliest hilliest trails for 60 minutes, you've done the equivalent of an 8 mile run on the road. And you prevent any kind of overtraining that might occur if you try running 8 miles on those trails.
So it's a pretty simple conversion, but in the end, it prevents a lot of overtraining. Please be mindful of it in case you decide to run on the trails instead of on the road for some of your runs!
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