Last December after running the Honolulu Marathon, I decided it was time to step back into the ultra running world. I bought a copy of the book Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons, by Bryon Powell. I really enjoyed the book and its common sense approach to training for ultramarathons. I was happy to find a reasonable training plan that I could apply towards my next big race. Now it was just a matter of picking out a race or two for 2014.
The main event I signed up for in 2014 is the Peacock 100km Trail Race, coming up on October 11th. The race course is run predominantly on fire roads, so it's not terribly technical. However, the 17,000 feet of elevation gain and loss coupled with the potential for really warm temperatures makes it enough of a challenge to make it an event worthy of my attention! Does anyone run ultramarathons because their easy?
After running the North Shore Marathon (results / photos) in April and letting my body have a couple of weeks of recovery, I jumped into the 70 mile/week, 24-week training program "40 Miles to 100k" that Bryon Powell laid out in his book. 70 miles a week? Sounds tough, doesn't it? Fortunately, it's not 70 miles EVERY week -- 70 is the max weekly mileage that you will run over the course of the 24-week plan.The mileage varies between 37 mpw to 70 mpw.
The plan is based on running only 5 days per week and places a heavy emphasis on back-to-back (B2B) long runs on Saturday and Sunday. The rest days in the plan are Mondays and Fridays. It also incorporates a "tune-up" 50k in week 19 of the plan. The tune-up race I chose is the Tantalus Triple Trek 30 mile trail run scheduled for August 30th. Since it falls on week 18 of the plan instead of week 19, I just switched up the training plan a little bit by moving the weeks around so that I had a recovery week before and after the race.
The Build/Recovery Cycles
The first 12 weeks of the plan consists of three 4-week build/recovery cycles. This means there are three weeks of mileage build-up followed by a drop in mileage. By the end of the 11th week, the weekly mileage is peaked out at 62 miles. I found the first 12 weeks to be very manageable. The perceived manageability may be because: 1) I did not choose to do the optional speed work that this plan calls for and 2) mileage in the low 60s was what I peaked at during past marathon training cycles. However, I did incorporate a significant amount of hill work into the week, which can have a similar cardiovascular affect as speed work.
The next six weeks consist of two 3-week build/recovery cycles. This is the meat of the program where the mileage peaks at 68 miles in week 14 and 17. Since I had to replace my week 17 with a recovery week due to the Triple Trek race in week 18, I went a little off plan with the week 16 mileage and ended up running 70 miles instead of the planned 64.
The Tune-Up Race and Taper
With the Triple Trek a week away, I'm in the final phase of the workout plan. After the mini taper prior to the Triple Trek, there is a recovery week then I will have two more high mileage build weeks in September followed a recovery week and then the final two week taper prior to the big day on October 11th.
What I've Liked About this Plan
1. Two days off per week! I like it and the family likes it too!
2. Mileage build-up is gradual.
3. Speed work is optional.
4. I've stayed injury free and my weight has dropped 8 pounds.
5. Recovery weeks! Although, during the peak training period the recovery weeks can be as high as 54 miles, it still feels quite good following a 68 mile week!
6. I can go for a 24 mile hilly trail run and not be sore the next day ... tired yes, but not sore. This really boosts my confidence and reinforces that the training is working.
I like where my training has taken me over the past 17 weeks and I'm excited to see what I can do at the Triple Trek. Although I want to run a competitive race, I don't want to overdo it since I will still have 6 weeks of training left until the main event at Peacock.
Run Steady! Run Strong!