With the recent growth in
popularity of ultra marathons, there is great information available about all
aspects of our sport. As a running coach I have noticed a few areas that people
tend to benefit most from having objective guidance. Here are some things that
you might want to incorporate in your own training.
Returning from Injury:
injuries happen for a reason, and reflecting back on your training log you may
get a good idea why they happened. A drastic increase in training volume or
intensity? Change in surface? Racing too much? A little ache that slowly
becomes a greater pain?
trip to your sports med professional is always a wise investment to begin with.
A proper diagnosis and treatment plan can jump start your healing, but just as
importantly they can assess to see if you have any imbalances that should be
sorted out. Getting your body on an even keel again may prevent this and other
injuries from occurring in the future.
you’ve been given the okay to start training again, this is the area where I
almost invariably see the biggest mistakes occurring. Runners feel that they
are healed and decide to rush back into heavy training far too quickly. This in
itself can lead to re-injury or developing another entirely different overuse
wise in your return to training. A gradual increase is difficult mentally to do
when you are starting to feel better and have missed running, but chances are
good that you will be back to top fitness a lot quicker if you don't risk any
setbacks from an aggressive build up.
with very short runs of 20 minutes or even less, then slowly increase. Make
sure that you schedule appropriate non-running, low-impact days between your
runs. Initially this could be total rest days, but then adding complementing
cardio workouts like biking, nordic skiing, snowshoeing, elliptical or pool
running will give your fitness (and morale) a good boost.
may find that you enjoy some of these other activities almost as much as
running, and they will provide a great training benefit without risking injury.
Flexibility in Training Plan:
miles or hours of training each week is a regular part of the ultra running
mentality and culture, and often we get stuck in routines of habit built over
years of using a similar, tried-and-true approach. Basing your training on a
seven day cycle is very convenient when looking at a calendar and determining
what you want to fit into that period; especially when considering fitting in
your training around other commitments like family and work.
keep the benefits of the seven-day cycle, while adding more variability, I
often find mini cycles or training blocks within a longer period of training is
sometimes a more effective approach. For instance, a 14-day period can work
quite well for ultra runners. Training can be split up featuring two slightly
faster paced workouts during one week, plus a long run on the weekend, then the
following week, could be reduced to only a single quality session, but could
include back to back longer runs on the weekend. This two-week cycle would
include a good dose of necessary longer runs, and allow you to rotate through a
series of quality work including possible tempo runs, hill workouts and interval
recovery periods being a good idea approximately every 21 days, this is another
reason to not get too caught up in the weekly volume game.
Specificity in Training:
of the races that runners want to compete in are held in places and on terrain
that are different from what they are used to. While this isn’t always ideal,
there are a number of ways that you can fine-tune your training towards the
specific race that you are training for.
for hot weather races, especially during the cold winter months, overdressing
in more layers than what you really need is helpful. This can also be done in
the heat of a fitness centre while on a treadmill. Better still if you follow
it up with a sauna, or even take a sauna partway through your workout.
mountain races, you don’t necessarily have to live near the mountains to train
optimally. Hitting the treadmill, and including long uphill runs at incline can
have you prepared to race well in the mountains.
had a first hand account this winter of having to train for a race in less than
ideal conditions, while preparing for the Yukon Arctic Ultra 100. Runners are
required to drag a sled with their supplies during this race, however due to a
very mild year, we had little snow to train on where I live. I felt as though I
trained very effectively leading up to the race however by logging plenty of
miles while dragging a tire behind me with a rope.
creative in training for your races. There are always ways that you can cater
your training specifically towards your next race.
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