Thursday, November 09, 2006

What's next

A few of you have asked what’s next. Well, I’ve actually already mentioned this once before, but I didn’t dwell on it back then because I didn’t want to lose my focus on the Dublin marathon. My next race will be the Connemara Ultra on 1st April 2007. There will be one or two smaller races between now and then, but the ultra will be the one I’m training for. At 39.3 miles it’s not much of an ultra, and unlike most ultras in America it’s a road race, not a trail one. I decided to run this a long time ago, namely when running the marathon there this spring. My thinking was along the line: it’s a very tough course, it’s impossible to PR in the marathon here, so I might as well try the ultra. I still see myself primarily as a marathon runner, and for the time being have no intentions of following in the footsteps of hardcore ultra runners like Rob or Olga. But it’s a new challenge, and one I’m looking forward to.

I’ve been following Pfitzinger’s schedule for my previous three marathons, and that worked very well for me. Unfortunately he never wrote a training schedule for an ultra. I’ve found one by Hal Higdon, but, as Rob himself commented, that’s a bit hardcore, and as preparation for a 50-miler, not really what I’m looking for. So I decided to try and create my own schedule for a change. I haven’t got anything written down, and I haven’t got any fixed plans as of yet, but I do have a few ideas I want to implement. Basically, I want to increase the intensity of my training. Not by too much, but still noticeable. Let’s see, my ideas include:

  • -Running 7 days a week. I’ve been doing 6 days most weeks in the last cycle, with two or three 7-day weeks thrown in
  • -Those 7 days should be 3 long-ish runs, 3 recovery runs, 1 fast day
  • -The fast day is either a tempo run as recommended by Pfitz, or mile repeats so beloved by Duncan
  • -At least two of the long runs should be 2 hours or more
  • -Hills. More hills than last time. Especially on the long run. Ever since I discovered the Kerry Way with its 250 meters elevation a few weeks ago I’ve been gagging to get back there. Lydiard’s boys had the Waiatarua route, I’ll have the Kerry Way.
  • -Maybe a hill phase, as prescribed by Lydiard. Maybe.
  • -Increased mileage, to maybe 80 miles.
  • -No breakfast before running. I’ve already been doing that on all runs under 10 miles (I know, I never mentioned that), now I want to try it on longer runs as well.

Before you think I’ve gone completely bonkers, rest easily. I won’t jump straight into a 7 days-80 miles-hilly-breakfast free-tempo runs week. I thought my weekly progression, once I start on Monday, will be something in the order of 30-40-50-55-60 miles, and I’ll take it from there.

I know most ultra runners do a run/walk routine. I’m obviously looking at this with wide-eyed naivety, but I think I want to try and run as much as possible of the race. It’s all on the road, as mentioned, and most of it is rolling hills. There are two major climbs, one at mile 26 and on at mile 35, both of them nearly 2 miles long. I’ll most likely end up walking those, but if at all possible I’d like to run as much of the rest as I can. Therefore I haven’t got any immediate plans on doing any walking on my long runs, but I’m open to suggestions. But remember, I still see myself as a marathon runner, and will be going back to trying to lower my PR a year from now, most likely at the next Dublin marathon. As I see this, I’m more interested in developing as a marathon runner in the longer term, rather than just focusing on one single race. If training for this will boost my endurance for any future marathons, then great.

Yesterday evening Niamh asked me when I would start running again. I haven't noticed it myself, but she thinks the cabin fever is returning. Or maybe she just wants more room in the bed in the mornings (we tend to have at least one little visitor each morning these days, usually arriving at 5:30 or so).


  1. Thanks for listing me as a hardcore ultra runner, but I may just be a washed up ultra runner at this time. Hopefully I will make a comeback after school is done.

    Good luck with this next training cycle and if I have any worthy advice along the way I will try to provide it.

  2. Thomas,
    I'm curious about the thoughts behind seven days a week. I'm a firm believer in taking one, preferably two, rest days a week. If I want higher mileage than I can cram in with two rest days, then I'll do some two-a-days. I am not trying to give unsolicited advice, I just like to broaden my knowledge base by knowing the "whys" behind training techniques.

    The other question was about breakfast - I think I remember you or someone posting about "learning to run on empty" - is that what you are trying to do?

    I think it's a great new challenge for you and look forward to following your training. Good luck!

  3. i am also curious about the no breakfast before runs....I don't see what kind of benefit that would give you

  4. Why no day off?
    But if it suits your needs - nobody knows it better than you.
    It's a great goal, to run it all. And you can make it, with an experience (and talant) you've got. I am looking forward your training and race report!

  5. We're all full of advice, aren't we? But I agree--7 days and no breakfast? Don't wear yourself out, Thomas!

  6. Gotta have my breakfast and coffee before running. The thought of running with no food in the tank is just frightening.

    I'm no expert in ultras but several of the plans out there have you doing the long runs back to back. This makes alot of sense in that it simulates the effect on the body of the time on your feet.

    Very good sign that your coach/wife is asking when you're going to run again. Better get on with it!

  7. How nice you will keep moving forward, even more interesting to follow you??

    No day off, wow sound like you feel you will survive with out rest, good luck!

  8. Thanks for sharing the pictures of the Kerry Walk ... looks like a lot of fun.

    Great plan you've worked up. I've never run an ultra, so I'm anxious to see how this works for you.

  9. You sound very excited about the ultra - and it's obvious you have given the training a lot of thought. Will be intersting reading following your schedule to see how you fare :-)

    Not having a day off sounds like a nightmare - I love my days off, lol.