For most runners, just completing one trail race of over 34km is a challenge enough in itself, never mind getting up the next morning to do it all over again, and again the next morning for a 22km.
So how does one prepare for such a tough physical and mental challenge?
In preparing for any sporting event, one of your key principles is that of Specificity, i.e. practice what you need to do in the race. This sounds simple enough, but if you were to suddenly go out and do three long days of trail running in a row every weekend, you won’t make it to the start line of your race! Many runners also don’t have time in between their other commitments to spend hours out on the trails day after day.
What you need to do is an adapted simulation – progressively simulate the mental and physical fatigue element without destroying yourself on the first weekend.
This can be done in 3 stages:
(*Distances are based on the 2016 AfricanX which is 34km, 34km, 22km. The same principles apply for other stage races, contact me if you need help working out training distances)
Slowly build up your weekend long trail run to 22km*.
You will have a rest day before and after the long run.
Create a weekend back to back run by adding a second run the day before your long run.
This run will start at 6km and increase gradually to 12-15km. The idea is to do this run at a steady pace of 75-80% effort – tiring the body but without needing to spend too much time out running (this run could be on trail or road).
At the same time build the main long run to 24-26km.
For an even better effect, do the first shorter run in the evening followed by the longer run in the morning. The reduced recovery time will again simulate the fatigue you will experience in the race, but without doing all the distance.
This is the triple weekend.
Here you sandwich your long run between 2 short-medium runs.
Your biggest weekend (which will be 3 weeks before race weekend) will look something like this:
Friday – 15km steady (75-80% effort)
Saturday – 28km long easy trail running
Sunday – 20km easy to medium run (this could be on trail or road)
Don’t do more than 3 of these big triple weekends and build up to them slowly and make sure you have a good rest day on the Monday.
These weekends are also a great opportunity to test your race nutrition and hydration strategies.
Enjoy the training, leave a comment or send me an email if you have any further questions