Hungry, tired, sick.

These are the feelings I associate with a good morning training session. My preference is to train on empty, before having breakfast. So, given the pre-amble of yoga, coffee and reading the news before heading out, this can lead to breakfast not occurring until a good 2-4 hours after getting up. Inevitably I’m often left feeling ravenous, in need of a good gulp of water, and often a little bit queasy.

It’s been a while since I last experienced these feelings, but they returned this week, and are now here to stay.

Source: https://www.ultratrail.it/en/

Lavaredo Ultra Trail - 15 weeks to go

Whilst I’ve maintained a good base of fitness through winter through a combination of running (3-4 hours per week), cycling (50-100 miles per week), hill walking and winter climbing, I haven’t been in a training mindset. 

It’s all to easy to get into the habit of just going for a run, to go out and run 4-10 miles at a reasonably comfortable pace. If you’re like me and intrinsically find pleasure in the activity of running, it’s enjoyable, you still get fresh air and headspace and come back with the warm rush of endorphins. These runs shouldn’t be dismissed - they have an important role to play in ensuring daily life feels wholesome and well-balanced, and help to maintain a good base level of fitness.

After all, training is an end in its own right, not just a means to the end of a race.

But now with only 16 weeks to go before the Lavaredo Ultra Trail, a 120km trail race in the Dolomites, these types of easy runs can’t come at the cost of targeted training sessions.

Foundations of effective training

I ran my first marathon in 2012, and since then have run a fair few more, as well as a handful of ultras and the Bob Graham Round. I enjoy reading about training principles, and am always keen to hear from those better versed in the science that makes up an effective regime. That said, I try not to get too bogged down in the fine details of any training plan, in splitting hairs over the optimum length of intervals, hill gradient or heart rate zone each session is focusing on. At the level I (and the majority of most other runners) am at, I don’t believe obsessing over details pays off; this time would be better spent going out for a run or training in some other way. 

With this in mind, I try to keep the foundations simple, and complement two to five ‘just going for a run’ type easier runs with these three ‘key sessions’:

Adapting for Lavaredo

This is the same as what I’d do for a road marathon, so how can it be adapted for the the 120km of trails in the Lavaredo Ultra? 

Strength & Conditioning

If you’re like me and love running, it’s easy to neglect other physical activities that are not running. Even if we know that they complement our running, that they will make us less injury-prone, improve our form and, most importantly, mean that we look slightly less gimpy when photographed 100km into the race, we’ll probably still go for another run instead, if given the choice.

With this predisposition in mind, I’ll try to add at least 2 strength sessions per week to my training, consisting of:

source: https://www.uphillathlete.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Scott’s-Killer-Core-Routine-V2.pdf

Preparedness

In order to have the greatest possible chance of doing well in a race, I think it’s important to get all of the non-running bit sorted as early on as possible too, to allow you to focus on the running and so that you don’t have any last-minute worries. In practice, this means:

The Lavaredo Ultra Trail takes place on June 26th, starting in Cortina d’Ampezzo. The race sees approximately 1,800 runners attempt to cover 120km around the Dolomites, with over 5,800m of elevation gain. For more information, see here: https://ultratrail.it/en/