Over the weekend there was a discussion about the Hoka Highland Fling race on one of the many ultra running groups on Facebook which led to some enquiries regarding training plans. Garry has pretty successfully used a couple of different versions in his preparation for the Fling and also the West Highland Way Race over the last 3-4 years which led to a whole raft of enquiries about sharing training plans. Although these plans were designed for the Highland Fling (53 miles) they would be suitable for any other fifty miler. Here’s Garry’s response:
Thanks for getting in touch about training plans; like I said in the Facebook post, these are variations on plans that have worked for me ( 3 x Flings, 2 x West Highland Way Races) but it is really quite a personal thing and you may have to adjust them to suit your own experience and personal approach to training.
They are based on some science and pre-existing programmes but in recent years I have favoured a flexible plan (hence the total weekly mileage approach) as we all have lives to live, jobs to keep and families to see. I always reckon it’s better to have a slightly pessimistic plan and complete all of it, than a wildly ambitious one and have the demoralising experience of missing big chunks of it. I have attached three plan. The first of these “time on feet” has two sheets on the excel document and is pretty self-explanatory. Essentially this is quite a tough plan and assumes you are in a position to cover some pretty serious mileage quite early on. It is definitely good enough to see you round the fling in a decent time if you stick to it though.
The other two plans take a more flexible approach and their titles really explain how I think they leave me ready in terms of potential fling timing. If you think you are a sub-10 hours kind of a person, I’m pretty sure you don’t need my help and I’ll look forward to seeing you disappear off into the distance!
Although they only show total miles per week, it is really important to try to include the following aspects into your runs:
(1.) terrain: try to replicate the WHW trail conditions. Over the course there are a huge range of surfaces including hilltop trails, burns, tree roots, wooden ladders, mud, tarmac and gravel. If you aren’t doing that in training, race day will suck.
(2.) Hill sessions. Do loads. Sprints, descents, climbs and zig zags.
(3.) Speed: include at least one absolute belt along every week to maintain some semblance of speed, it need only be a few miles.
(4.) intervals. This type of short burst, high intensity training will add great value and train your body to recover.
(5.) treadmills. Don’t fear them, if the only option to get a run in is to use a treadmill, just go for it. It’s better than not making your mileage.
(6.) Weather. Do some runs in shitey weather to make sure your head is in the right place when you experience that.
(7.) Timing. The race starts at 6am. Bang in a few early runs to get a routine right in your head.
(8.) Enjoy. It’s supposed to be good craic. If it isn’t (at any point), you’re doing it wrong.
Finally: it’s a bit boring but please make sure you are fit to undetake these plans. I am neither a fitness coach nor a cardiologist just a fellow runner.