A form of trail running which is popular among the endurance lovers is multi-stage racing. Getting up the morning after a long trail race to get out and run all over again can be a tough physical and mental challenge. So how do you prepare for this?
The secret is doing weekly back to back long training runs. Choose two consecutive days where you have enough time to run long and do one very long run on day 1 followed by a medium long run on day2. For example, running 3 hours on Saturday, followed by 1 and a half hours on Sunday.
Take the longest day of the race and work out the amount of time you expect to take to complete the stage. This is the longest training time that you want to build up to over the training period making sure that your longest run is no less than 3 week before the event. Make the second day’s run about 75% of day 1.
How long must your first back to back be?
Start at your current longest training run. Then gradually increase this run to the maximum mentioned above by adding 10% or 2km per week. It is a good idea to reduce the distance every third week to give your body and your mind some much needed recovery time.
For example, if your longest run is currently 1 hour then follow this pattern:
Week 1: Run 1 – 1 hour, Run 2 – 45 minutes
Week 2: Run 1 – 1 hour 10 minutes, Run 2 – 55 minutes
Week 3: Run 1 – 45 minutes, Run 2 –30 minutes
Week 4: Run 1 – 1 hour 25 minutes, Run 2 – 1 hour
Continue following this pattern until you reach the maximum required for your event.
I have met many trail runners who are training both for multi stage trail events and an ultra-marathon on the road, my advice is to do the shorter long run on trail and then longer run on the road.
Next time I will share some secrets on optimal recovery between stages.