Packing for a long road trip is a bit like playing Tetris with suitcases. Even though we always determine to only take what we will actually use, somehow the luggage volume versus actual car interior volume don’t make a perfect sum. Maybe if all suitcases were perfectly square it would, but that ain’t the real world. Somehow though, with smart planning, we are able to get it all in without squashing the bread or having a suitcases land on our lap if we brake too sharply.
Preparing all but the elite runners for an ultra marathon is often a similar annual experience. I encounter a lot of runners, mostly novices and those that had too good a holiday, who have entered an ultra marathon, but did not fully take into account the extent of the preparation required and, having left things a bit late, now want to try jump into the middle of a training plan and cram in a training load that their body does not quite yet have the capacity for. The end result being injury, illness and a lot of frustration.
However, all is not lost, if you are in a fair state of fitness and injury free, then, with a smart progressive and realistic approach, you can be ready come race day. Remember always:
Your primary goal for success is to arrive at the start line healthy, strong and injury free.
Here are some tips to help you ease into that training plan:
Ask yourself –
- What is my current training volume per week versus that of the plan?
- How far was my longest long run over the past 4 weeks?
- How many training hours/days can my life commitments realistically accommodate?
Now go to the current week on the plan and do the following:
- Reduce the number of days to what you are currently managing by crossing out the shortest days. If you have capacity to train more days then add one day a week until you are doing the same as the training plan prescribes.
- Now, reduce the total volume of the week to your current average (over the last 3 weeks) + 10%. Do this by reducing each day (except long run day) by a few kilometers. Don’t completely remove a day. Gradually build from here by doing the same for all weeks.
- Finally, if the weekly long run (Your most important session) is way more than you have been doing, then divide it into 2 longish runs back to back on Saturday/Sunday. For example: If you have only been doing 15k and the plan says 30k, then split it 18/12. Gradually increase the longer run until you are on par with the plan.
- If the training plan has quality training sessions (hills, fartlek etc.) and you have not been doing any of these, then: Either go back to the first time it appears on the plan and replace the day with that first session, then build from there (plans usually build these progressively) or still do the same mileage for the day, but just run. Not worth risking injury at this stage of the preparation.
If still unsure, pop me an email with your questions.
Good luck and please post comments over the next 12 weeks to let me know how you are getting along!