This is part of a series of posts regarding how I am preparing, planning, and train to complete the 100 miles Ultramarathon Umstead 100: Road to 100. For all the ultrarunning series and additional ideas follow the link. Training for a 100.
You have decided to consider tackling an Ultra event. You might be a veteran, new to Ultra, or even recently started running. Don’t be afraid you are about to get ready and the planning and training for an ultra can be fun and very rewarding even if you do not sign up for an event.
I have completed multiple Ultra-marathon distance events including a 100-mile race. My planning process has been very similar in regards to preparing to map out that initial plan to tackle the event. There are two main areas of the process the first one is the assessment in which I am very honest with myself about my current condition, the time I have available to train, and the possibilities. The second area is the end goal or target race. Once having those I start coming back from that target event and work my way to the starting point.
Be aware that after you have this initial plan in place, it is only an initial guidance plan. There are other elements that you might want to add to the plan, like speed work, tempo runs, hill repeats, and many more. This barebone approach will probably serve you as an indicator of the reality of the current state and the reality of a plan.
You might decide that the plan might be too aggressive and instead of doing the target event mileage, you might drop it one notch. From 100 miles to 100K or to 50 miles or a 50k. That is totally fine and ok too. Also, every week reaccess any adjustments to the plan, although I will keep those changes within small increments or reductions. Unless injury or big unexpected changes in your life that will require those big reductions.
The first thing I do when I am getting ready for an Ultra event, regardless of the distance, is to do a self-assessment of the starting point. There are a few questions I consider,
- What is by base weekly running? This will help me undestart the starting running weekly load.
- What is the current base long run? I look for the past few weeks performance, whether there were events, training runs or fun runs. The longest run on average. If I did a 50k (31 miles) but the rest has been 13 miles my long run will sit closer to 13 rather than 31. On the other hand if the other runs have been closing around 17-18 miles on consistance, I will have my starting long run a tad closer to those, 16-19.
- How are my back to back long run experience? Have I run a long run followed by a 10 miles or longer the following day? How often? When was the last one?
- Hhat is my work week daily mileage? Whether is 2 or 3 times during the work week, how many miles on average?
- With thew current running load how am I feeling? Can I complete workouts? Long runs? weekly distance? Am I tired? Do I feel fresh? Minimal soreness?
Using the answers from that list at a bare minimum will help me with an indication of whether or not I am ready to start training or do I need some adjustment, rest weeks, or minimal mileage to recover. But most importantly what will the starting point for the training season be.
Now, this is my process to prepare an initial plan, I know it is not going to be perfect but it will serve as the basis to an initial approach to training,
- Determine your week – mine is Monday to Sunday. Others use Saturday to Sunday. Just make sure that for your reference the below is going to be Mon-Sun, 5 work day week and 2 day weekend for each week.
- Pick a event to tackle, for me Umstead 100, in a calendar (electronic, pre-made or blank paper) Mark the day (week 0) and start counting the weeks you have left. For me at the time of publishing it 16 weeks.
- Two weeks prior to the event, will be you peak week.
- Weeks 4 & 3: Here you are going to note your preffered peak week plan for the long runs. For me for example for my 100, I do back to back to back long runs (Fri 10, Sat 31, Sun 26)
- For work week mileage are easy 3-6 miles runs, no speed or hill workouts
- For Weeks 1 and 2, are the taper week, I am cutting the mileage drastically to let my body recover and get in tip top shape for the event.
- For week 16, day after assestment and planning I use to information from the assestment to populate starting long runs and weekly mileage.
- From starting week all the way to week number 5 I start increasing the mileage of my longer (Back to back) runs gradually. I want to make steady progress and is possible every two weeks if increasing I do a back off the mileage week, to allow better recovery. Example Week 10 and 9 (52 & 60) followed by an easier week 8 of 41.
This should serve as a reality check. Honesty with yourself is a must. If after this you know this will push all your mental, physical, and will limits. Like I mentioned in the last bullet of the planning section if your starting point is the couch or a 5k distance and you want to tackle 100 miles, you might have to reaccess the current short-term goal. It is not that you can’t do it, it is that you will have to add longer time preparation. Safety, reducing the chance of injury is key and even though it is not going to be easy it should be doable. My base mile is decent and coming from finishing a 50k, followed by a 10+ mile back-to-back long run earlier this month, giving me a great starting point.
Below is a table with the initial plan and how it might look like:
How is the plan going:
This week was a solid week. The workweek mileage was decent, with some highlights, Wednesday run was a treadmill run due to the weather, but decided to take it slow, lots of walk but at 8% incline.
Thursday run included hill repeats – 9 of them, solid, was feeling it at the end but felt very accomplished.
The long runs were good too, Saturday 18 mile run was a steady one, lots of hills. After the run, my sugars spiked up to the point I was feeling it. I had to change the infusion set and monitor it closely to bring it back to normal ranges.
Sunday I was feeling with a lot of energy, I added after the turnaround 10 400 meters push and the last mile was a test mile.
This week actual numbers: