Not a week goes by on social media without someone asking, “What’s the best training plan for a 50K, 50 miler or 100 miler?” Good question… most answers refer to the ultraladies website, Bryon Powell’s book or Hal Koerner’s book. Or, just follow your favorite marathon plan and add some back to back longer runs.
I take a little different approach. I got into ultra running to escape the structure of road running, with specific pacing, prescribed mileage, and boring stretches of road. So I tend to stay away from structured training plans and instead stick to running 80% of my runs easy, 20% hard, build mileage slowly, lift weights and work on mobility. But even after running more than 50 ultra’s, I still have a lot to learn. I recently read this advice from Killian Jornet, the best ultra runner in the world:
“The way I train is based on my feelings, that is, on my desire to climb a mountain or to discover a valley. Training is an objective in itself and should not be a requirement to get into race shape. This is not a workout plan for you to follow. Each of us has different physical characteristics, capabilities and motivation, and so, training must adapt to these. Enjoy every day and every outing. Training should not be an “obligation”, just a way to improve. Training should be spending time doing something you love. You must be coherent with the goals you set yourself. This is essential. Also, you must be aware of what can be won and lost, and always keep motivated. Training shouldn’t be an obligation, but a way of life. In this way, progress is huge.”
Now that’s what I would call the Zen of ultra training. Every day is just a new day of discovery, enjoying the ability of our bodies to explore new paths, moving beyond previous limits. So what do you think? Are you willing to toss the plan and just go with your feelings?