Training Plan: 5 months to WHWrace!

So here it is, my training plan for the 96 mile West Highland Way Race on 23-24th June! On the WHWrace podcast I mentioned how prior to this race I had never created an excel spreadsheet for my training. I am not good at schedules, fixed plans or fixed times to do things. With this in mind, and to take into account that my day-to-day and week-to-week life has little to no routine, I came up with a plan!

Note: My last race prior to starting this 6 month plan was mid-spetmeber. I then took 3 weeks off before spending two and a half months building up to consistently running 5 days and 26-30miles a week to avoid injury. 

My plan is loosely based on the 50mile a week 100 mile plan from the book Forward Relentless Progress, from which I have taken the planned weekly mileage to create a weekly average for each month (this means I can follow the plan, but with more week-to-week flexibility). I run 5 times a week, with three key run sessions and 1 weights session.

Key runs

  1. Mid-week longish run (starting at 5 and building to 13miles)
  2. Long run (starts at 6 and PEAKS at 53miles)
  3. Back to back (B2B) – this is a run the day following long run, i.e. on tired legs.

I have only planned the first 3 months, as I will assess my fitness/recovery as I go. For me, this magnitude of training (and planning) is unchartered territory.

To add (bare with me this gets a little complicated), roughly a third of my mileage will be hiking rather than running. This is because I anticipate having to hike ~50% of the race distance.

After reading an enlightening book by Dr Stacy Sims on female specific nutrition and training, I decided to break each month down into 4 cycles.

Cycles

  1. All hiking
  2. Higher intensity/strength focus.
  3. Recovery mileage
  4. Jump up mileage

The hike and and higher intensity weeks are planned to coincide with my hormone cycle based on Dr Sim’s advice. The hike cycle is scheduled for the last quarter of my hormone cycle. This is due to limited access to glycogen and reduced ability to recover and build muscle during this time. The high intensity cycle then begins on day 1 of my hormone cycle to capitalise on an increased ability to build muscle. To note, each cycle is not necessarily a week long and the plan has some flux to it due to my hormone cycle not being precision clockwork.

Finally, I also give each month an overall focus. I will pick these as I go based on what I need to work on. Before embarking on the training plan, my focus was getting into a habit of consistent training – something I have never done before!

Below is a summary of weekly totals and B2Bs for the first 5 weeks, and a rough outline of the next 5 months.

January Goal – 35miles per week, B2B 14/6miles.

Focus = Get on board with the plan! 

Week 1: Up Mileage. Total = 37.7miles. B2B = 20.7miles/5.6miles

Week 2: Hike. Total = 39.3miles. B2B =20.4/5miles.

Week 3: High Intensity. Total = 17.3miles B2B =Missed!

Note: The high intensity sessions included fartlek, heavy weights and 3x1km sprints (in hindsight, this was a mistake).

Week 4: Recovery. Total = 44.6miles. B2B = 6.6/19.1miles.

Note: Looks high mileage as the week summaries are Monday-Sunday (I use the Strava training log). 

Week 5: 2 days ill and moved house meant a short week. Total = 29miles. B2B = 14.1/8.3miles.

Reflection: The high intensity week wiped me out as I did all the sessions within 36hours. This meant I had to take the recovery cycle early, cutting and missing some planned sessions. I have decided I might want to hold back a bit next month and instead of intervals do a threshold run and spread the sessions out more. I have also found my HR is way too high, so next month’s focus will be on breathing while I run to keep a lower HR (155bpm).

I ran more than my planned mileage, especially in week 4, but I have no niggles so I will aim to run 44miles a week in Feb. However, I did get a cold after week 4 that stopped me training for 3 days, meaning that I did not make my goal mileage that week.

February Goal – 44 miles per week, B2B 18/7miles.

Focus = Low HR and day to day nutrition.

What does March look like right now…

 

March is a big month with 2 milestones; my first marathon and ultra distance of the year! The planned weekly average is 46miles with a key B2B of 26/6miles. It will also be the month I experiment with race nutrition and kit (turns out my trusty 2XU leggings give me bum chaffing after 20 miles!).

March 11th is the Cambridge Boundary marathon. I plan to run 6miles the day after this race as my key B2B for the month.. eep!

March 30th is a key recce for the race. I am running 33 miles on the West Highland Way from Balmaha to Tyndrum as part of the Highland Fling Training camp.

April Goal: 48miles weekly average and 53mile Highland Fling Race. B2B 18/10miles.

April 28th Highland Fling Race – This is the first 53 miles of the West Highland Way. I will run this race at my WHWrace pace and use it as my main race practice. I am not going to fully taper for the Fling, other than 5 days ‘off’ to maintain a weekly mileage around 60miles.

May Goal: No fricking idea! Recover from the fling somehow.. and then a HUGE B2B (24/16miles) last weekend in May. My focus for May is to finalise race plan and brief my race crew.

For anyone else concerned about running both the Fling and the WHWrace, with only 8 weeks between them, I found comments on the WHWrace Family Facebook really reassuring (search ‘Fling’ on the WHWrace family page and look for Norrie McKinley’s post on 27th March 2017). Also, have a listen to John’s podcast on the subject – http://www.kynaston.co.uk/podcasts/episode111.mp3

June = Taper and RACE!!!!!!!

Useful links

West Highland Way Race podcasts by John Kynaston. – https://westhighlandwayrace.org/podcasts/

100 mile lessons by A Century or Bust – http://edwardsandor.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/100-mile-lessons.html

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