I’ve never had a running coach or followed a real training plan for running. I did not run regularly or competitively in high school or college, and really only started trail running in 2010 to get ready for my first 50k. I went back to mostly climbing for a couple years, and then started trail running more again while training for the JMT in 2012-2014. I’ve done some short periods of pretty high mileage, but never did any interval or tempo workouts, or even ran 5-6 days a week for more than a few weeks at a time.
Mostly I trained by feel, went pretty hard when I did get out, tried to train as specifically as possible, and took lots of rest days instead of doing easy recovery runs. I’ve gotten reasonably good results from this approach (intensity works after all), but I think I’ve got a lot of room for improvement with a smarter, more disciplined approach.
So after another few months of fairly sporadic training, I decided it is time to get serious, disciplined, and consistent. I also signed up for my first 100 mile race – the Wasatch 100 in September. The Wasatch was actually my second choice – like many people, I tried and failed to get into the iconic and ultra-popular Western States 100, which is almost in my backyard.
I’m pretty excited about the Wasatch – with around 24K feet of gain, it is one of the harder 100 mile races in the country. There is also a real possibility of both 100 degree temperatures during the day and snow/sleet/hail and 20 degree temps at night. Very few people finish in under 24 hours – it seems that 30-36 hours is much more common – and about 1/3 don’t finish at all. My goal right now is to finish in under 30 hours, and as close to 24 hours as possible.
Toward this end, I recently bought Jason Koop’s excellent book “Training Essentials for Ultrarunning” and spent a couple days reading and re-reading it. Then I put together a rough training plan for the next 7 months based on the principles he outlines. I’m less than a week into, it but so far I like having the additional structure and focus to my training for a change, and the short, hard interval workouts are a nice change of pace. As I’m a relative beginner when it comes to both racing ultras and consistent/focused training, I should have a lot of room to improve with the right training stimulus.
Basically the plan is 3-4 weeks of focusing on high intensity, uphill VO2Max intervals, followed by 8-12 weeks of Lactate Threshold intervals, and finally 8-12 weeks of high mileage, lower intensity endurance work. Each phase also includes easy recovery runs, and longer endurance runs, and a total of 6 days a week of running.
So, now I’ve got a goal and a plan, let’s see what I can do with it!