Dave Byrne – Training Like an Ultra Runner…sort of!

I’ve always heard about people doing massive amounts of weekly mileage and thought to myself “How do they fit it all in?” You know, the guys at training that talk up their 180km weeks, or reading blogs where athletes write about even greater amounts of running. The Japanese marathoners are famous for doing 220km plus! Obviously, time permitting you could run both in the morning and afternoon, every day. Alternatively you could just rack up more long runs and drop the intensity. I figure I’d prefer a happy medium. Doubling up when time allows for it, while maintaining some manner of relative speed in most of the training.

The approach I generally use is to run easy and short in the mornings and then knock out higher intensity, longer stuff in the afternoons. I find it much easier to turn over at a faster rate in the PM, and shuffle around with sore Achilles and tight muscles in the AM. I also don’t follow a strict ‘weekly’ cycle that a lot of runners seem conditioned to. In the past I’d do sessions Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with a long run on Sunday and then ten mile runs Monday and Wednesday. Friday was always a recovery day…either rest or an easy 8km.

But when it comes to training for an ultra, things are a little more complicated. There’s the need for the occasional mega long run, which requires a couple easy days pre and post. Plus the Wednesday needs to be a bit longer and the thresholds go from being 5km of effort in the middle of a ten miler, to 16km of hard running. One final thing is the monthly double long run. This consists of a 30km+ Saturday run, with a similar or even longer Sunday effort.

Building towards being fit and strong enough to handle this type of training has been a slow process. It’s necessary to avoid injury and be able to absorb the increasing volume without building up too much fatigue. If you crank the mileage, apart from getting sore you subsequently run slow. You might be going further, but I’d prefer to run long without it becoming a jog. So far it’s working and I’ve managed bigger weeks than ever before, all while maintaining some semblance of speed.

Centennial Park lakeWeek Beginning Feb 2nd

Sunday – AM 30km
PM 10km

Monday – 16km steady (61:20)

Tuesday – AM 9km
PM Easy Mona Fartlek middle of 16km run

Wednesday – AM 10km easy
PM 20km (84min)

Thursday – AM 8km easy
PM 16km with 30min hard in the middle (56:30)

Friday – 9km easy

Saturday – AM 16km
PM 8km