How do you train for a 95mile race?

Time: 12.10pm
Route: Brodie Park
Distance: 4miles
Time Run: 33mins 20secs
Lap splits (1.10mile): 9.11, 8.57, 8.42

With Sundays long run in mind I went for an easy 4mile run on Brodie Park. Throughout this year it became a habit to have my final run before a race or monthly training run on Brodie Park so I plan to do the same in the lead up to next year’s races. It was a bit wet under foot but I enjoyed the run and feel ready for Sunday’s run on the whw.

This week I was asked by an experienced marathon runner, ‘How do you train for a 95 mile race?’ It was the same question I asked myself two years ago when I first heard about the whw race and thought, ‘I want to do that!’ Today as I ran I was thinking more about the answer I gave him and thought it would be good to share it. I’m going to put it on the whw forum as well to generate some discussion.

I started out two years ago talking to many experienced ultra runners like Ian and chatting over my plans. Over the last two years I’ve changed things to what suits me best and will continue to do so. So here is the answer I gave and my ‘philosophy’ of how I train!

Before I do so let me say that everyone is different and has a different amount of time and different goals and aims. So I’m not saying this is THE way but this is what is working for me. I love to chat to others and find out how others plan their training. As the saying goes ‘we are all an experiment of one.’

For me the backbone of my training is my monthly runs on the whw route. I’ve always felt that training is very specific so the best way to prepare for running the whw is to run on the route. I’m fortunate to live near enough to be able to travel and run in a day and do that. So once a month I plan a long run on the route. I started off doing it on my own in the first year and then half way through the training a few joined me. Last year Ian and myself organised it a bit more formally and we had a regular group of 10-15. This year looks like being even bigger.

The idea behind these long runs is to increase the mileage and time on feet as the months past. So for this coming year it will be 24 miles in November & December, 28 miles in January, 31 miles in February, 42 miles in March, 53 miles (The Fling) in April and 75 miles (over 2 days) in May.

Everything else fits around these runs. In the three weeks building up to the long run I will do a 2-3 hr run off road each week plus a fartlek session, a tempo run and a couple of easier runs. The week after the long run I will have an easier week. I don’t mind (too much) missing any of the other runs but the long run on the route is the priority and won’t be sacrificed!!

As I ran today I was thinking what is the benefit for me in these runs and I came up with these reasons …

# I get to know the route better and better. With these training runs I run the whole route at least twice and most parts three times before the race. This will be my third year of doing the race so by the time of the 2009 race I will have run the route at least 8-9 times. I find that really helps with visualising the route and where I need to be.

# I can plan my splits and mini goals along the way. By training on the route I can work out my splits actuately, not just the main sections Balmaha to Rowardennan for example but also the mini-splits between those two points. On the race day I find this really, really helps me not to run too fast but to be disciplined especially early on.

# I can test everything on these long training runs so by the time I get to the start line I’ve tested all my equipment, food, clothes, etc, etc. I have a good idea what works for me and that gives me great confidence in the race.

# These monthly runs give me a clear indication of how my training is going. If I’ve not being doing the hard training before these runs I will be found out. But if I have been doing the training then these runs really give me confidence as the months go by.

# Finally I just love being on the route. For me the race is the goal I’m training and aiming for but the journey is just as important. I love the countryside we run through, I love each section and the challenges it throws up. I also love the people I run with (I’m wiping my eyes as I type!!!). Seriously I really look forward to these runs each month when I run for 5-8 hrs with people who have become good friends. We don’t talk all the time but we do have some great discussions and the time flies past.

So that is my thoughts on how to train for the 95 mile race? What are yours?

Someone else did say to me this week, ‘Why do you share all your ideas?’ You are surely just helping your competitors! I suppose if I was a ruthless runner with winning being the be all and end all I would keep everything I’m learning to myself but I’m not and I get as much enjoyment out of seeing others reach their potential and do well as myself. I started this blog with the intention of sharing everything I’m learning on the way and I want to continue to do that.

The other thing I love about our long runs on the whw route is doing a video diary of the day so for those coming on Sunday watch out for the Kynaston camera!

This entry was posted in Brodie Park, Training ideas. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How do you train for a 95mile race?

  1. Grellan says:

    John I’ve never trained for anything over 26.2 miles but would imagine that being familiar with the course “like the back of your hand” counts for an awful lot as the distances increases. You are indeed fortunate to live so close to such a fantastic course as the WHW.

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