So you’ve entered UTA and are gradually increasing your training. At the moment it’s just about building some volume and getting plenty of kilometers into the legs. But soon you’ll need to get serious. Soon you will need to start being specific about the training you do and throwing a few sessions into the mix. It’s through doing the harder workouts that you’ll get the most improvement and if conquering UTA is your goal, then the below should help you achieve it.
There are LOADS of stairs in the Ultra-Trail Australia course, so naturally you should include them in your training. Start slowly by simply adding half a dozen or so flights of stairs into the occasional run, then as you get use to then and your legs get stronger you can increase the number you do. Focus on good form going both up and down. Also, you don’t necessarily have to run them. Most folks will walk the stairs on race day so practice doing this in training.
Here’s an article on stair training: http://www.thelongrun.com.au/stair-training-for-beginners/
Like stairs, UTA has plenty of hills. And as per above, you should gradually introduce them into your program. It’s a good idea to find a short, really steep hill of up to 60 seconds as one options, and also a longer one (Up to 3 minutes) that far less steep and what we call more runnable. Then one day each week you can do the steep one, then another day later in the week you can hit the flatter of the two.
Here’s a great little hill session you can do: http://www.thelongrun.com.au/session-4-hill-reps/
It might sound strange, but it’s a good idea to practice your power hiking technique. No matter how good a runner you are, there will be sections of the course that you walk. But being able to turn your walk into a power hike will save you loads of time.
Here’s an article on how to do it: http://www.thelongrun.com.au/the-art-of-power-hiking/
It’s not about getting big or buff for summer, it’s all about conditioning your body, more specifically your legs, to the rigors of ultra marathoning. By increasing your power and overall leg strength you will be better equipped to not only run faster and climb more comfortably, but you’ll also reduce your chances of injury. Gym sessions should be a weekly activity and once you’ve gotten through the initial stages where you get really sore from it, you shoukd be able to get through a workout and the following day not be overly sore, more heavy or tired in the legs.
Here’s an article on strength training for runners: http://www.thelongrun.com.au/strength-training-for-endurance-athletes/
Runners Brick Sets
Triathletes often use bricks sets as a means to replicate the type of experience they’ll have in a race. For runners a brick set is simply the combination of two types of training stimulus, such as doing some tempo on flat ground followed by hills. Or alternating between a set of stairs and a 30 second flat effort. This type of training will get you use to the feelings you’ll experience on the course at UTA. One minute you’ll be climbing, the next it’s be flat. You’ll have some stairs and then it’ll turn into a gradual uphill slope. Each time the terrain changes, so to does your technique. Practicing this in training will get you use to altering your mechanics as well as the shifting of fatigue from one muscle group to another. One tip is to try doing some easy hills after a weights session. 20 minutes of gentle jogging on rolling terrain when your legs are smashed feels horrid, but is great for you!
Double Long Run
The dreaded double long run is a tough thing for most of us to get our heads around, or even find the time for. However it’s well worth the effort for not only training your mind to run when not motivated, but also for conditioning your body to moving well in a state of fatigue and depletion. Essentially it’s just back to back long runs, for example 40 kilometers on a Saturday and 30 kilometers on the Sunday. To begin with you don’t need to do quite as long, nor is this something you should do every week. Once a month is ample, and make sure both the runs are nice and easy.
Here’s an article on it: http://www.thelongrun.com.au/the-double-long-run/
*With all of the above it’s a great idea to run with your pack on. If possible, add a little more weight than you think you’ll have on race day as it will strengthen you up and also makes things feel nice when you put your pack on the morning of the big dance.