Incorporating speed training for ultras, in my opinion, is severely overlooked at best if not just outright ignored altogether. After all, how can you expect to get faster at running 50 or 100 miles if you just keep plodding around at ultra-pace day after day?
Speed Training For Ultras? You Betcha!
Let me back up a minute first. Is speed training for ultras for everyone? Probably not. Let’s face it, one of the reasons that people have embraced ultra running is the “idea” that they will cover a lot of ground but they don’t really have to break a sweat doing it… It is running long but it is also running slow.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Two of my athletes are training for ultras. One, her first ultra so yeah, there we are only throwing volume (numbers) at the problem and teaching her how to run longer while maintaining an even Level of Effort based on heart rate over time.
However, another runner I am coaching IS an experienced ultra runner who now wants to step up his game and learn how to run up front with the big girls and boys… Training and running a lot of mile alone is not going to get him there, so you can bet at least one day of his training week he is at the track and at least one other workout that week is focused on intensity derived from more of a tempo-style of a workout. His work is paying of as he just PR’d a marathon this past weekend only running it as a training run (tempo effort) with his feet on the brakes. WE have bigger fish to fry in January…
I think it was Matt Carpenter that said, “If you want to be fast up there, then you have to be fast down here.”
When I think of him saying those words, I imagine him standing on a track in Manitou Springs, first pointing at the track and then pointing up at Pikes Peak. Regardless of if he said or who said it… it is true.
If you want to start running ultras fast then speed training for ultras is exactly what you need. Of course you need to pick out the right kind of speed workouts… and that will be another article for another day.
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