How to plan a monthly ultra training schedule you can stick to

Late in February, I spent half an hour over a coffee mapping out when I could run this month. It’s an approach I also take with my coaching clients. It doesn’t take long; we’re talking broad brush stuff. It should form a rough plan that can then flex slightly when other things need to take over, but be robust enough to keep things on track towards my next big goal or ‘A race’. Here’s how to tailor your own training plan with or without a coach…

Where to start

Take the big non-running commitments and block them out first. That usually means my long runs need to happen on Saturdays or Sundays.

Next, I look at when in the week I can include one or two 10-milers. Then I slot in shorter runs around home and work commitments.

Planning for a specific goal

The key with this planning time is to identify the kinds of obstacles you might face to achieving your goals, and plan around them.

For me, my goal for March is to get in good shape for Centurion’s South Downs Way 50 on 4th April – and, by good shape, I mean finishing in less than 10:30. I’ve done the race a few times, with a best finish of 10:21. By elite standards, that’s pretty pedestrian, but I’m pretty proud of that! And, as I wrote earlier this year, achieving a time under 10:30 puts me firmly on track to achieve my two big goals later in the season: completing the Kennet and Avon Canal Race 145 and the CCC.

So, what’s likely to derail my progress this month? Coronavirus is an obvious worry, as it’s already cancelling major marathons and big events. At the moment, mine are all due to take place as scheduled, but I’m keeping an eye on that. If they do get cancelled or postponed, I’ll just readjust my goals and find new challenges. The most important thing right now is to stay healthy, keep clocking the mileage, and stay ‘race fit’, whether that’s in an event or out on my own.

Finding patterns

At the time of writing, I’m more than 70 days into a run streak. In the last 20 of those, I’ve started to really feel stronger. My quads have lost that morning after heavy ache, and my running is more fluid. According to my Strava stats, my average weekly mileage is now double what it was this time last year. That’s because I made a conscious decision, not only to run every day come what may, but also to increase my mileage this year.

Now, for you, finding a pattern that works for your body might be different. Run streaks, in particular, divide opinion. But, for me, they work – I feel like I have more energy now. Being a ‘heavy’ ultra runner, and 52, it’s taken me a while to discover what works for me.

Reassess and adjust

By the end of 2019, I’d put on 4kgs. Now, I’m back down to 85kg and feel confident to increase my mileage without too much risk of injury. I’m still aiming to be 82kg for the KACR145 in July and I think I can get there.

Last week, I ran 68 miles (a record training week) and, after a marathon training run tomorrow, I’ll have clocked over 70 for this week. A few commitments coming up will mean I’ll only clock 40-50 miles next week, including a couple of early morning 10-milers to get it done.

A final couple of higher mileage weeks will lead into a nice taper with some shorter, faster (for me) paced runs before the SDW50 on 4th April.

Where are you at with your training? On track to meet your goals? I’m here to help. Leave me a comment or book me as a coach through XNRG.

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