Saturday, January 21, 2012

Developing an Ultra Training Program

The last few weeks, I have just been going out each day and kind of running really whatever I have felt like in terms of mileage. Pace hasn't even been something I've monitored really at all.  It's been a nice break from the typical grind of training, but it's time to put some puzzle pieces together and get a program kick started.  Now, typical Marathon programs are 18 weeks long, but since my main focus is the 50 Mile North Country Trail Run, I am going need to develop a very strong base, which will involve lots and lots of miles and I am pondering throwing in some speed work as well.  With that being said, I have kind of developed a plan in my mind.  My next race is the Kal-Haven Ultra, a 33.5 mile run Kalamazoo to South Haven.  Honestly, in terms of difficulty, the two 50ks that I did on trails should (keyword) be more difficult than this race.  That is because if you've never run on the Kal-Haven Trail before, it is very flat; especially the route from Kzoo to South Haven. 

So, the plan is for me to get a solid base together for when I tackle Kal-Haven.  Before the race, I'd like to be consistently running 100 mile weeks, which include long runs of up to probably 28 miles.  Anything longer than that I don't think is really necessary in training for that distance.  Also, I am thinking about adding in a bit of speedwork in my training, however, I want to be careful to not overdo it.  I know that if I am training consistently with such high mileage I must be careful with the inclusion of speed. It's going to be much different than the training I am used to now.

Anyways, after Kal-Haven, I will definitely take it easy the following week.  After that, I will have hopefully built a solid base where my mileage tops out at around 100 miles per week.  At this point we will be at the end of March.  The 50 miler is August 25th.  That gives me almost 5 months to train my ass off for the 50 miler.  Now, I have been thinking very seriously about this race trying to determine a realistic goal.  I have never done a 50 mile race before.  I have done two 31 mile races, but that's it.  Although, I know it's going to be a whole new ball game, I strongly believe I am going to be as ready as possible to destroy this race.  I don't want to just finish, I want to put down an awesome time and heck it would be kind of cool to win it honestly (although, it just depends on who shows up).  Last year, the winner finished in just under 7 hours, which is absolutely unbelievable.  That means he ran 8:24 minute miles for 50 miles.  I did the marathon last year and finished with a pace of about 7:40 for 26.2 miles.  Honestly, I think I am definitely capable of running 50 miles somewhere in the 8:30ish range.  Being at that base mileage of 100 miles, with some solid long runs and a few races past marathon distance as experience should give me the confidence.

In the 5 months from the beginning of April until the race, I want to increase my base mileage.  Honestly, I would like to get upwards of 130 miles per week.  This is going to include some two a days as well as back to backs on the weekend (long runs on Saturday and Sunday, with Saturday's being the longer of the two).  I think this is the best way to prepare for the race because I will constantly feel fatigued, which will simulate how I will feel in the race.  Mental prep is just as, if not more important.  Running 130 miles a week consistently should be a huge test of mental toughness, especially in the hot and humid days in Michigan. 

This is going to be a tentative schedule leading up to Kal-Haven:
Week of
1/16: 92 miles
1/23: 85 miles
1/30: 95 miles
2/6:  100 miles
2/13: 90 miles
2/20: 100 miles
2/27: 100 miles
3/5: 90miles
3/12: 100 miles
3/19: 35 miles + Kal Haven

Seem reasonable?  Right now I have a solid 80+ mile per week base.  I think this is definitely a viable training plan.  I am going to incorporate several two a days per week (probably 2 or 3) and include a lot just general runs to pile on the mileage.  On Tuesdays I am contemplating adding speedwork.  I will definitely emphasis listening to my body, which is very very very important.  I'm looking forward to this:)

Here's a good quote to end on by an awesome endurance athlete:  “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. – Lance Armstrong

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