My training season for this past year was loosely based on Timothy Noakes 90km Comrades Marathon Training Program from the Lore of Running. Noakes’ program reads a lot like a marathon plan. It’s broken into 13 weeks where the first 6 weeks are a base phase, the next 5 weeks are a build phase, and the final 3 weeks are a taper. Through the base phase I kept things comfortable focusing on getting 8 hours of running in weekly, doing one workout of substance, and becoming accustomed to back to back Saturday / Sunday long runs. During the build phase I tried to do two workouts of substance every 10 days while running longer back to back runs on the weekends. In the final taper phase I cut down hourly volume by 40% three weeks from race day, then ramped up to the hourly volume equivalent to the race duration (an 8 hour race typically meant 8 hours of running this week) two weeks out, then reigning back to short easy runs and a couple intervals the week before the race (these weeks usually totalled 3 hours of running). I was only able to do the full 13 week build once at the beginning of the season for the Elk / Beaver 100km, after that I’d start counting backwards from my next race and work through the training schedule from there. I did make a couple modifications since Comrades is a road race and I was planning to run hillier courses. My modifications included: running nothing shorter than 1,000m intervals (I kept the recommended duration though), capping most long runs at 3.5hrs (the program recommended a 50km run), interchanging tempos and hill workouts when I could get to the mountains, and logging trail miles twice a week (usually one of my long runs, and one of my hill workouts). I felt this approach worked out well enough, but balancing quality, volume, recovery, and the “fun factor” through the build phase without an objective eye was harder than I expected.
Some of my favourite workouts for the year:
The Man Maker (6-8 reps of 3 minutes on followed by 1.5 minutes active recovery climbing a 7-10% grade) from Rob Krar (check it out on Strava).
The 20, 10, 6, 6 Tempo Session: 20 minutes of tempo, 2 minutes of active recovery, 10 minutes of tempo, 2 minutes of active recovery, 6 minutes of tempo, 1.5 minutes of active recovery, 6 minutes of tempo, and profit!