Some people like to run for the joy of running. That isn’t my bag. I need a purpose to get me out the door.
Some people like to run randomly and tackle races in whatever fitness they have at that time.
With my lack of any natural ability, I need a very structured training programme to arrive at my goal race in any sort of shape.
My goal races this year are London Marathon, MIWOK 100K, West Highland Race and TDS.
To complete my year successfully there are certain things I need to do
I need to increase my basic speed. With speed comes efficiency and improved speed will provide a foundation for a half decent attempt at a marathon as well as providing more of a cushion between my flat out speed and my ultra speed. The bigger the gap, hopefully the easier the ultra speed will feel.
I need to develop some speed endurance, otherwise my marathon will be slow, painful and disappointing.
I need to develop the ability to run easily for many hours at a time and practice that feeling which comes in an ultra where you feel really bad, but if you stick it out for another couple of hours you start to feel better again.
I need to be able to climb hills. MIWOK and West Highland Way are both hilly and TDS is extremely hilly.
There are different views on how you build your training. One school of thought says build endurance and then add speed, another says build speed and once you have that, add endurance. Which ever one you follow, it is pretty much agreed you should only focus on one of these at a time.
In an ideal world I would do a full marathon cycle, recover then a full ultra cycle for MIWOK, WHW and TDS. The timing and nature of these races mean some compromises need to be
My thinking is that while I want to have a decent attempt at London, but it can really only be treated as speedwork for the following ultras and so i will need to miss some marathon specific training and will probably only have a mini taper as opposed to a full taper. London becomes the last long run before MIWOK.
MIWOK is a hilly 100k. With only two weeks between London and MIWOK, London recovery becomes MIWOK taper. At 100k, MIWOK is also an ok distance to prepare for West Highland Way. If I can be fit for MIWOK, then I really just need to recover, maintain fitness and do a bit of fine tuning before WHW 6 weeks later. After WHW it is recover for a few weeks and hit the mountains until TDS in August.
My training programme started at the beginning of December and runs through to the end of August. I have no Autumn races scheduled this year. I reckon that if I make it through my goal races then my body will have done more than enough for one year and a period of down time will give me a chance to recover.
My training year runs through a number of distinct phases:
- base fitness
- race specificity
Within each phase are a series of workouts which get progressively harder, on a two hard one easy cycle.
In Calendar terms it looks like this
December – Base. Building consistency and regular running. getting enough fitness to allow proper training.
January – Focus on speed
February – Speed then Endurance
March – Endurance and Speed endurance
April – Speed endurance. Mini taper for London marathon
May – Race MIWOK. Recovery and Endurance
June – Endurance, Taper, West Highland Way
July – Recover and Hills
August – Hills, Taper and TDS
We are now in February. I have been doing lots of tempo and interval work to build up speed, and hopefully shift some weight. I am getting faster, and am hitting most of my targets, though still have some way to go. It is hard finding the energy and time for midweek workouts. My ultra endurance is frustrating, and I look on with mileage envy at those folks who can go out for a long run of 30+ miles and make it look effortless. However, long ultra miles are still to come so hopefully like the good weather they will come eventually.
This is my programme, it will hopefully work for me. I need to go through my own phases and not be distracted by what others are doing, even if that means missing out on some potentially fun runs and races. Whether it is successful or not we shall find out in August!