How to choose a training plan?

Unless you’re a professional athlete, chances are that your preparation for a race is decided by an eight to sixteen week PDF schedule .

Ever since I started running properly I just looked at how many weeks I had to go and then googled accordingly. My history probably has “4 week ultra training plan” or “under 3 hours on minimal training” as a favourite.

So after the best kind of conversation (over wine) and being told by my girlfriend that I should probably get serious about running (am I not??), I began to wonder how to get serious. Enter search engine.

The problem was that all of the advice looked about the same, just variations on a theme or wildly too expensive. I wanted to get serious but not serious enough that I couldn’t afford to eat. 16 weeks of “Rest day Monday, slow run Tuesday, speed on Wednesday, slow on Thursday, rest day Friday, parkrun then long slow run” was exactly the reason I decided to go into ultras rather than bother trying to take a few minutes off my race time for the same level of effort.

Essentially my ultra training is like advanced marathon training. Between 50 and 70 miles a week following a similar pattern to above but on cliff paths and country lanes rather than track and road.

So I’m back to square one. Then I came across Camille Herron.

If you haven’t heard about her, you’re not trying hard enough. The beer-drinking, Taco Bell eating ultra distance running phenom is the world wecord holder for 50 miles (5:38:41), 12 hrs (92.67 miles), 100 miles (12:42:40, 7:37 per mile pace), and 24 hours (162.92 miles).

To be honest she had me at beer but you can add USATF and IAAF qualified, masters in Exercise and Sports Science PLUS health research assistant to her CV.

Weirdly though, although a bonus, the thing that attracted me to the Comrades winner (uphill) was the approach. No training run bigger than 22 miles, even for a 100 mile race!! This is crazy talk among the plans I’ve read including which tend to focus on big weekend back-to-back miles like Relentless Forward Progress and Hal Koerner.

Camille offers training plans for every conceivable distance but I’ve decided to go for the Boston Qualifying plan. If I can get the qualifying time then I’ll be able to enter all the Marathon Majors plus hopefully carry that pace and endurance into ultras to keep plugging away at the UTMB and Western States dreams!

Now I have settled on a plan, I just need to work out which race – Amsterdam or Valencia? Or both?!

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