Some things a Kenyan runner told me part two...
The guys I spoke to race on the track and roads but all of them said that they do a quarter of their training runs on trails as they know it improves their leg strength and also their running form which in turn makes them more efficient when they race back on the track and the roads.
I do the majority of my running on trails and it is tougher and you are a little slower than you would be on the road so start with your recovery runs maybe and build it up. As you learn the trails that you run on you'll get more confident and pick up your speed.
The guys I spoke to always listen to their bodies and train with that in mind. If they notice something hurts or they feel really tired during a warm up they will end a session at the end of the warm up, simple as that. How many of us have carried on only to end up with an injury that could have been avoided?
They talked about block training which I found very interesting given the amount of runners I work with who never have any time off from running. So these guys will build up their training for four months at a time which will include what they consider to be lower status races and then race hard for a month. After that they'll have a month off where they don't run but do other things such as swim to completely rest their legs and then the cycle will begin again. So effectively two A races a year in their eyes and considered build ups to both.
They train in groups of similar abilities twice a week and truly believe that by doing so this really helps them to get the maximum out of each other and in doing so aids each others personal running development.
I know of one Thursday night group that do this and I think they'd all say they've got benefit from running against their peers and seen their times improve. As long as the "climbing into a run" and "warming down from a run" that I talked about last week is observed by all participants and the racing element has a start and a finish, injuries can be kept to a minimum by doing this kind of training. Talk to people you know of similar abilities and give it a go.