A Week of Training for an Ultramarathon
[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]
The most common question I get about running ultras is how much I train. Depends, is always my answer. My training load depends on the race I'm training for, how healthy I am, how busy I am, and how tired I am. However, I typically run 45 miles each week at a minimum, and strength train at least twice. This week, I was three weeks out from my 100 miler and coming off big training week.
Monday: Hot Yoga, 60 minutes.
I had a big weekend of back-to-back long runs, so I took Monday easy. I go to a hot yoga studio that's sort of like Bikram except better because it's 60 minutes (not a traditional Bikram 90). I try to engage in a dedicated mobility session at least once a week, and yoga is my perfect supplement for running lots of miles. I also like the added benefit of practicing in a room heated to 108 degrees with humidity as I've found it useful for acclimating to long, hot days on the mountain.
Tuesday: Sandbag strength workout in the morning (60 minutes) and a 6.2 mile run (60 minutes) in the evening.
I've been training with Ben Beeler for over a year now, and we primarily use sandbags. I like that I can do my strength training from home, and I enjoy the progression of movements and challenging nature of my program. Dedicating a few hours a week to strength training has kept me healthy and made me stronger, which has made me faster. I ran after I was done working and the trails were warm, but I'm training for a hot race so I've been intentionally running in the heat.
Wednesday: Double run. Morning 5.5 (56 minutes) miles in Laguna, evening 5 miles (47 minutes) with my running club.
I ran from Mike's apartment on Wednesday, going up Laguna Bowl trail and down Boat Canyon. My legs felt a bit tired, but I love the trails in the Laguna. It's one of the only towns along the coast with a substantial trail system, and I can always get a good, hard run with significant climbing. In the evening, I ran with my running club and got an additional five miles. After my morning run, my watch (Coros Apex) measures fatigue was telling me to rest so I took my evening miles easy.
Thursday: Sandbags again in the morning (60 minutes), uphill waking and sauna in the evening (80 minutes).
I did my second sandbag workout of the week today; lots of deadlifts and squat/lunge variations. I love that the sandbags provide total body workouts without requiring tons of equipment or super heavy weight. It's always the right amount of challenging. Later in the day, I walked ~3 miles at a 15% incline on a treadmill at my gym. I tried to maintain a 3.7 mph, which isn't as easy as it sounds. Uphill walking is one of my favorite ways to reap some training benefits on an easy day. It's low-impact, good steady-state, low heartrate cardio, and it helps me train for the uphill hiking I do in my ultras. After my uphill walk, I sat in the sauna for about 20 minutes. The sauna is heated to 180 degrees Fahrenheit, and I'm currently utilizing the sauna to help me acclimate to the heat for my upcoming race.
Friday: Morning run, 9 miles (81 minutes).
I was planning to hit the trails, but an early meeting, coupled with a poor night of sleep due to a noisy neighbor, kept me close to home. I wound my way around Dana Point and to a bike trail that parallels the ocean. It was a flat road run, so the miles went by quickly and I was back in plenty of time for my morning meeting.
I decided to do nothing Saturday morning because I was going to be pacing my friend Alex for the last 25 miles of AC 100 that night. I figured he'd get to the 75 mile aid station somewhere around midnight. I was pretty tired from my week, so I slept in Saturday, walked to Zinc, one of my favorite coffee shops in Laguna, and had a fairly relaxing day with Mike. I didn't sleep much though, because I started pacing Alex at about 11:30 p.m.
Sunday: Pacing Alex at AC 100, 25 miles.
I picked up Alex, and we started climbing. For the first eight or so miles, he seemed to be in high spirits and feeling good. He'd been running for over 20 hours straight though, so sleepiness and fatigue soon set in. I encouraged him to eat every 30 minutes and made sure he didn't slow down too much. By the time the sun was rising, we had less than eight miles to go. He finished in just over 26 hours, just after 7 a.m. I ran with him for 6 hours, 49 minutes.
Total for the Week: 50 miles, 11 hours.
P.S. Get a Coros watch, check out my trainer here, or read about heat acclimatation here.