Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Give Me a Training Plan!!!

[I accidentally posted this post out of order.  Read this post first.]

Here are a few popular training plans for the new ultrarunner. This isn't meant to be an exhaustive list, just a listing to give you a taste of what's out there. I've used a few and will give my own comments when appropriate.

  • Crossfit/ Crossfit Endurance: Crossfit is a functional fitness-based workout program designed to develop multiple areas of athletic skills. Crossfit Endurance adds an element of high-intensity anaerobic running to the mix. The theory goes something like this: By running long, slow distances, we get slower and weaker. If we do shorter distance high intensity running combined with functional fitness training, we get faster and stronger at running (and any other athletic endeavor). I've used CF/CFE in the past, and still use many elements of the program. It's good. However, the lack of long runs severely dampens the ability to experiment with all of the variables inherent in ultras (like gear, food, chafing, etc.) If you like your workouts to end with you lying in the fetal position in a pool of your own vomit, this is the plan for you.
  • Maffetone Method: The Maffetone Method pretty much takes the opposite approach. It replaces all high-intensity workouts with long, slow runs. The Maffetone method uses a heart rate monitor to keep heart rate below a predetermined point to train your body to utilize fat burning. Higher intensity workouts can be added after an endurance base has been built. I have played around with the Maffetone heart rate monitoring, and it does work as advertised. If you don't like sweating, this is the plan for you.
  • Modified Hal Higdon plan: Hal Higdon's marathon training programs have been guiding marathoners to the finish line for... well, forever. His plans have a balance of different types of runs based on experience. The tricky part- his plans are designed for marathons. They can be modified easily, though. If you like doing what everybody else is doing, this is the plan for you.
  • Jeff Galloway-based plan: Galloway's plans, like Higdon's, are designed for marathons. However, differs by teaching a system of running and walking. This concept is one of the most popular techniques used in ultras. As such, his training plan is quite popular. So popular in fact, ultrarunner Tim Looney refers to ultras as giant Gallo-walking festivals.” If you spend your mornings doing laps at the local mall and watched 'The Golden Girls' because of all the hotties, this is the plan for you.
  • Runner's World plan: Runners World produced an ultra training plan, but it assumes you've already run a marathon. Still, some people like Runner's World. Their forums are pretty cool. And some people like the incredible diversity of their magazine's cover art. You know, a skinny white girl with ash blonde hair one month, then a skinny white girl with strawberry blonde hair the next. Anyway, here's the plan:,7120,s6-238-244--7556-0,00.html
  • Santa Clara Runners customizable plan: This plan is really cool- it's an interactive website that produces a customized plan. The plan itself is basic, there are no specifications for different types of runs. Still, it will get you to the finish line. Check it out here:
  • The plan from The Barefoot Running Book: I wrote a plan included in my other book, but it's designed for marathons. Same deal as Higdon and Galloway's plans... it can be modified for ultras. It's really a hybrid that combines Crossfit and Crossfit-style workouts designed in conjunction with my friend Pete Kemme of Kemme Fitness ( and Maffetone's long, slow runs. It's the best of both worlds.  Now run out and buy the book.  :-)
  • Relentless Forward Progress plan: Bryon Powell's excellent book 'Relentless Forward Progress' includes an excellent plan based on Bryon's own experiences. Bryon is the editor-in-chief of, THE ultramarathon resource on the 'web. If you're looking for a more legitimate, serious book from ultrarunners that are actually good, check out his book. It can be purchased here: Relentless Forward Progress.

Check out each of these. Using the criteria I shared earlier, pick the plan that will be a good fit for you. If you can't decide, pick the plan from The Barefoot Running Book. If you are offended by my shameless cross-promotion, pick Crossfit. Then send me the pics of you lying in that pool of vomit.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Jason - Small note: It's Santa Clarita (So Cal) Runners, not Santa Clara (Nor Cal).