Looking for help with your ultra marathon training plan? Want to know how many times a week you should run, how many miles each run should be, when your longest run should be? We are here to help answer your questions.

There are those that think a typical ultra marathon training plan should be rammed with runs 6 days a week and that the mileage should be higher than the race total. However, take it from us that a training plan that is unachievable will make you regret signing up for the race as you force yourself out of the door day after day trying to grind out the miles. We prefer quality over quantity and therefore we make sure that we get at least 2 rest days a week and that we don’t overload ourselves. we also have to

Training in Cycles

You will also see from the below ultra marathon training plan (it is actually our plan for Butcombe last year) that we like to train in cycles. This may entail running 15 miles long on an easy week and 25 on a hard week. This gives us more chance to recover rather than just building and building up the miles until one of us breaks.

WeekW/CMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySundayWeekly TotalEasy/Medium/Hard
104/05/2020Rest6Core/Strength8Rest51231E
211/05/2020Rest6Core/Strength9Rest61536M
318/05/2020Rest6Core/Strength10Rest81842H
425/05/2020Rest6Core/Strength8Rest51534E
501/06/2020Rest6Core/Strength9Rest62041M
608/06/2020Rest6Core/Strength10Rest82549H
715/06/2020Rest6Core/Strength8Rest51534E
822/06/2020Rest6Core/Strength9Rest62041M
929/06/2020Rest6Core/Strength10Rest82549H
1006/07/2020Rest6Core/Strength9Rest61536E
1113/07/2020Rest6Core/Strength10Rest82044M
1220/07/2020Rest6Core/Strength11Rest102552H
1327/07/2020Rest6Core/Strength9Rest62041E
1403/08/2020Rest6Core/Strength10Rest82549M
1510/08/2020Rest6Core/Strength12Rest53053H
1617/08/2020Rest6Core/Strength8Rest81032Taper
1724/08/2020Rest5Core/Strength8Rest51028Taper
1831/08/2020Rest4Rest4Rest50Rest58Race

Back to Back Runs

One strategy that we do like is the Saturday Sunday back to back run. We find this works for us. We run on a Saturday then we start with slightly tired legs on a Sunday. It is the closest you can get to emulating that tired race day leg feeling.

Core/Strength Training

We find that core training really helps us with our hill work and builds a stronger core while helping with balance etc. Therefore, we undertake an hour of core training a week. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated. In fact, there are a number of exercises here that you can use.

Recovery Run

You will notice from our plan that there is no recovery run. One theory on this is that if you are running how are you recovering? Others believe it helps to “flush the legs”. We find a walk with the dog serves it purpose for us. In fact, as we walk the dogs every day, we are on our feet for a fair few miles just walking.

Speed/Interval Training

When we training for big miles, we don’t tend to do the same speed training – instead we focus on hill and strength work. We might add some tempo into our Thursday runs or incorporate some hill reps but the usual mile reps and shorter interval sessions, we tend to save for shorter faster distances. We haven’t incorporated anything specific into the plan above but you may wish to use your Tuesday session for speed work, fartleks etc.

Time on Feet

There is another school of thought when it comes to planning your weekly mileage and that is time on feet. If you find that 30 miles is going to take you far longer than you have time for, you could consider time on feet instead. Perhaps you could work in number of hours. for us we average around 4.5 – 5 miles per hour meaning that a 20 mile off road run would take us 4 hours. Following this theory means that we are going to be out for 6 hours for our longest run. if you can’t get the miles done in 4-6 hours then aim to be on your feet for this length of time instead.

If you have a job when you stand up all day, you are probably getting far more time on your feet than we do sitting on our backsides for large parts of the day. Perhaps you will complete a long run and then spend an hour later on walking with the dogs or the family. Consider your general lifestyle and activity when building your own plan.

Adapt the Plan to Suit

An ultra marathon training plan shouldn’t be some numbers thrown on a page that you have to stick to. It is there to help you achieve your goal. There is nothing written in stone that says if you haven’t completed every mile in your plan, you won’t complete the race. Sometimes you have to use your own judgement and listen to your body. If you can’t face this week’s long run, switch it up. Perhaps you can’t run long on a Sunday or you prefer to do a recovery run. You can use the above to suit what works for you. Of course, should you have any questions about any of the above then please do get in touch and one of the coaches will be happy to help.