The Training Path

Earlier this week, I began my training program for the Elk/Beaver 50K trail ultra, which will happen on May 10. As soon as that’s done, I’ll move immediately into training for the Niagara 100K road ultra, scheduled for June 14.

That means that, after a couple of months of “just running,” with only one race (the Run4RKids 6 Hour on January 4), I’m back to following the path of training. Not the path of least resistance, but the path of training. As I said recently in a dailymile post, “Training isn’t the same as just running. Sometimes I’m happy about that, sometimes I’m not.”

The training path

The above image pretty much says it all. Despite the title of this post, where I am now is more a place than a path. No, strike that – it’s actually more a space than a place.

I’m comfortable where I am. I came out of my 2013 race season with some new PBs and a whole bunch of new experiences, and I did well at the 6 Hour event. I’m fit, I’m healthier than I’ve been for a very long time, and I’m happy. But, come May 10 – and even more so, come June 14 – I want to be where my magic happens. And that means getting down to business.

There are definitely things I like about being on a training program. At the beginning anyway, it’s easy. It’s a pleasure to start with short distances and gentle efforts. (I am, after all, a lazy man.) It helps to be able to give over some control to a structure that’s outside me, and simply do what I’m told. And, having done that, I take joy in watching my progress as I go through the days and weeks of the plan, getting stronger and more confident. I like aiming at a goal.

In the past, I’ve struggled in the latter weeks of my training plans. Most of them are 16 to 18 weeks in length, and they always become a bit of a grind near the end. But I may have a little help with that this time. About a week before the Elk/Beaver 50K, I’ll fly to Vancouver to spend some days with family before the race itself. That’ll force some flexibility into the plan to replace the usual staleness. And the couple of weeks before the Niagara 100K will, if there’s any justice at all in this world, see me enjoying warm, if not hot, summer weather. I’m always in a good and creative space when that happens.

So I’ve got 15 weeks of training before race #1, and, after that, another 5 weeks of training before race #2. In all kinds of ways, I’m looking forward to it.

Hard Work Ahead


  1. Dear Alan
    Glad to hear you are in a happy space.
    Regards your training, are you still being guided by the principle set down by Dr Mafftone?
    I know you have followed this approach in the past, do you combine whatever ultra distance plan you are following as to the when and how far, but over lay that by operating at a low HR?
    Given the distances you are now covering, his principle would seem well suited.
    You cannot do an ultra distance if you do not have a good aerobic capacity.

    As a contraction of the above. My birthday is the 14th of May. So bit of foot in both camps. 🙂

    Jason UK
    (Begining to tinker around the edges of runing once more)

    1. Good to hear from you, Jason! Yes, I’ll still do my medium and long runs at a slow pace and a low HR. Wouldn’t think of training any other way.

      I’ll be sure to do a long run for you on May 14. 🙂

  2. May 10 is my brother’s birthday, and June 14th is mine. Good dates, haha. What do you do for training plans? I’m trying to find something for an ultra plan, but looking for something a bit more than just basic. Sounds like you have a pretty decent base and some experience. By the way, that little picture, it’s pushing me to run outside today. It’s 3 degrees, Farenheit…

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