Endurance sports like trail running constitute an extensive individual modality causing numerous physiological changes to occur in the athlete. In this sense, an adequate monitoring of training load appears to be essential to improve competition performance. The aim of this study was two-fold: (i) to analyze trail runners’ weekly load variations in the four weeks leading up to a trail running competition, and (ii) to determine the relationship between the runners’ pacing in competitions and their physical fitness and workload parameters. Twenty-five amateur male trail runners (age: 36.23 ± 8.30 years old; minimum International Trail Running Association performance index: 600) were monitored daily for the duration of a season (52 weeks). External load (distance covered, pace) and internal load (rate of perceived exertion) were measured daily. Additionally, weekly workload measures of acute:chronic workload ratio (ACWR), training monotony, and training strain were calculated. The runners were also assessed for maximal aerobic speed (MAS) every four months. No significant differences in workload measures (p
> 0.05) were observed in the four weeks leading up to each short trail competition; however, leading up to the long trail, ultra-trail medium, and ultra-trail long/extra-long competitions, the differences in the runners’ workload measures were significant (p
< 0.05). In the short trail, pace was found to be moderately correlated with the ACWR of total distance (r = −0.334) and with training monotony of rate of perceived exertion (RPE) (r = −0.303). In the ultra-trail, a large correlation was observed between pace and elevation accumulated (r = 0.677). We concluded that significant workload differences from one week to the next only occurred in preparation for longer-distance competitions, with sudden acute load decreases and very low ACWR values reported mainly in weeks 1 and 2 of the taper. Meaningful relationships were found between performance (pace) and MAS for longer trails and between pace and MAS for ultra-trail competitions.
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