How to train for an ultramarathon, or 'How not to' - my 78K training schedule

Cycling: 30 minutes
After some (okay, a lot of) tossing and turning, I've decided on the schedule that I'm going to use for the 78K Swiss Alpine Marathon in July 2011. Seems far away, but I need to start the ultramarathon schedule in February (that is, in a little of a month from today), and need to get my base training done before that. Yeah, tight. Let's see how The Calf holds up. I'm adding miles to my runs every week now, and am able to run 4 miles/6.5K now without any serious calf pain. My sports MD and PT told me recovery should take about 8 weeks. It's been 6 weeks now, so, not too bad.:) Progress, slowly, but still: progress. ;)
The Schedule
I decided to work with a Hal Higdon Ultramarathon schedule for my first. To me, it seems like a safe pick. One of the guys in my running group did that same 78K race a couple of years ago, and used a similar schedule. Hal Higdon advices the runners to use the run/walk breaks-method for the 26+ miles /42K+ runs. And advices the runners to do at least a couple of long runs on a very hilly course (that is, a course similar to the one you're in training for). Seems like a plan to me. Since Holland is as flat as my hair after finishing the NYC Marathon (the proof is in the photo...), this means I will have to spend a lot of time in my car driving back and forth to southern Belgium or Germany to get some serious mountain runs in. And you know what? I'm actually looking forward to that! :)

Want to know what the schedule is? Here you go!

Only thing I'm not too sure about: running 75 mile/120K weeks. Ouch. That is going to hurt! :)
I know some of you already did an ultra distance race. So, what schedule did you use? Please share. :)


Emz said...

I used the "wing-it" schedule.
ever seen it?
No? ;)

Johann said...

I just do my own schedule, but this looks good. Your body will adapt to the longer distances. Just take it real easy during the 120km weeks. Good luck, this is very exciting.

Bethany + Ryan said...

Hi, I used my own schedule for my 50 miler and I don't even use a schedule for my marathons. For my 50 training my highest mileage run was 31 miles and my highest weekly mileage (ever) was 57 miles. I think I ran a total of 54 miles in a week, 56 miles in a week and 57. One week i did 66 if you counted sunday-sunday. I raced a marathon 3 weeks out and then i think i took it easy after that. If you follow your plan, or even do a little less, you'll have NO trouble!!!! Good luck!

M said...

My left calf is screaming at me just looking at your schedule! I could never do 75 miles per week. I've been rehabbing my leg, and I've only done 12 miles per week. I wish I lived in a flat area. You can run here. It's uphill going to and from my house!

RunningRonald said...

Eerst herstellen en dan er voor gaan... de rest weet je allemaal al :)

Ms. Duffy said...

You are such a badass!

Char said...

When you're running so far (and I speak from absolutely no experience at all) recovery becomes really important. Nutrition, hydration, compression, extra sleep, massages etc.

Andy Bowen said...

I tend to wing it too, as being flexible makes the whole thing far less stressful. I just do a long run on weekends, a couple of intense hill sessions each week, 2 days off for recovery and then fill the gaps with any sessions from tempo, fartlek and core workouts in the gym.

As Char says, recovery is the most important thing, as well as listening to your body. Don't get too obsessed with running loads of miles, especially if your body is warning you against it.

Best of luck

rinusrunning said...

Mijn tip zou zijn om ook te oefenen in het stevig door wandelen tijdens of tussendoor de duurlopen.
Dat langzame maakt je sterk en aardig wat ultralopers trainen in het wandelen, ik ook!.
Sucses en komt goed.
Groet rinus.

Silly Girl Running said...

@ Emz: Hmmm...'Wing it'? Might have to google that. ;)

@ Johann and Bethany + Ryan: Thanks for the advice! :)

@ M: Hahaha! I might come over ;).

Silly Girl Running said...

@ RunningRonald: Thanks. :)

@ Ms.Duffy: No, I'm not. ;)

@ Char: You've got a point there!

Silly Girl Running said...

@ Andy Bowen: Thanks, that's great advice! :)

@ Rinusrunning: Oh, goede tip! Daar ga ik zeker op trainen! Ben ook van plan om wat weekendjes naar de Ardennen te rijden om het stijgen te oefenen; stevig doorwandelen zou dan super zijn!

Shellyrm ~ just a country runner said...

I have only gone 50+k and rarely crack 75 miles a week. I usually do 50 - 65 miles a week but remember I haven't done a race as long as yours. I am sure you can handle the schedule!