I'm doing a half marathon in September in the beautiful trails of Aspen, Colorado. I haven't trained for a half in quite some time and while I frequently trail run, I wanted to see if anyone had tips or schedules for how to train specifically for a trail half marathon.
Are you looking for a time?
I did a 16 mile race recently that I trained by just using a road half marathon plan that was close to my time I wanted. On long runs I would always do them on the trails.
Definitely long runs on a trail, but I'd do intervals on trail too, using hills. If you're really on a trail, you're definitely using more and different muscles than for a road race for stability if the ground isn't just dirt. You want to make sure you're prepared for rocks and roots without adding a roll of an ankle! Along with running up hills, running down can take more practice. Running up hills backwards can help work opposing muscles too.
I've never used the REI trail half training plan myself, but it is pretty close to plans I have used.
Also, be sure to add in lots of strength work amongst the running.
So much is dependent on your circumstances. I like to race what I run. I like to run the course before the race. Both Allow you to find your best running self on the day of the race. Not everyone has the training or vacation time to do this. But if you can you’ll be engaged and present for a magnificent day.
in addition to the other excellent recommendations made by others, at least one day per week with some speed or hill work can improve performance. Hill work even on roads helps to prepare the legs for the elevation changes. Yesterday I completed a trail half marathon with minimal opportunity to train on trails but weekly early morning hill repeats on a local street prepared me well.
Strength will be a key component in a trail half. Hills and tempo/fartlek runs are a great way to build the strength you’ll need to carry you through those late race miles when fatigue sets in. If possible, doing tempo runs on the trails can be a great way to get your body used to the pace you want to run in the race over similar terrain. On the road, it’s much easier to settle in and run a consistent pace, limiting accelerations that increase fatigue. The nature of racing on the trails is much more uneven due to the terrain, so anything you can do to mimic that style of running will help on race day.
I am also training for a trail half-marathon in September. My approach has been to spend as much time on the trails that mimick the conditions of the race as possible. I spend 3-5 days a week running trails with lots of hills and especially my long runs. I find that running trails has been a lot different than road running and do not believe that road work does much to prepare me for the trails, so simulating the conditions of the trail half is particularly important.