Back in March The Tornado Alley 50 Miler race director emailed me back to let me know that I could run the entire distance myself and that I did not need a relay team but I would need to provide my own crew and fuel. Okay, now how do I train for this thing?!?
Talk about uncharted territory! 26.2 miles is the longest I have ever run in a race or a training run. So I did some research on how to train for ultras. I took some of the ideas I found along with what I have learned over the years and created a training plan that looked great on paper. I kept the 3 month training schedule right next to my desk so I would see it daily and stick to it.
Consistency is key. That’s probably the most important tip I can offer. And that does not mean the schedule is set in stone. Definitely listen to your body, take rest days as needed, and revise the schedule to fit your life. But be consistent.
In March and April I had quite a few races on my calendar so I used those in place of some of the tempo and speed workouts. I started doing back to back long runs in order to teach my body to run on tired legs. This worked great for many weeks in this pattern – rest day, long run, long run, rest day and then the remainder of the week filled in with some easy runs, tempo or speed, and maybe a race. But as the long runs got longer and longer I found that I sometimes I needed two rest days in a row before or after my longer efforts. Some weeks when I was putting in 4-5 hour training runs (25-31 miles) I could not handle them back to back. So I made the schedule fit what my body could handle. I was training in Florida which featured many hot, sunny, and humid training days.
I trained at various times of day so my body could adapt to running at the different times. I was ready for any sun, heat, or humidity that race day might bring. I trained using all of my drinks and fuel options so I would know how my body would react to them all.
Once I reached the start of the taper, about three weeks out from race day, I was a little concerned that my longer runs were single day runs with two rest days around them and I was not able to do as many back to back long runs as I had originally planned. But I have found that over thinking things is pretty typical for taper weeks – too much time on my hands so I start to question everything.
But I headed into race week healthy, well trained, and rested. I had some of my best sleep the week before the race. I have never felt so well prepared before.