This post is part of a series about our running club's training for the Ragnar trail race in Zion, Utah. For more background, read the first post in the series here.
From flight planning to camp setup, plenty of challenges are going to present themselves as we train for our trail relay. The most exciting challenge, to me anyway, is creating an effective training program.
There are many race training programs out there. Heart rate, time on feet, and distance are just a few. For our purposes, we'll need runners to be on their feet for four hours or so throughout the relay. The average pace needs to be faster than 16 minutes per mile if we want to finish before the cutoff. Runners will need strength and stamina to meet the challenges of elevation. Altogether, it seems that a hybrid program will suit us best.
We'll target 5 days per week for training. The program will last 12 weeks. Distances and times will increase throughout the first 10 weeks of the course. The program will include a taper period to ensure runners are well-rested leading up to the race. The basic week:
Interval training. A short warm up followed by accelerated bursts of speed for set amounts of time or distance. Runners will walk or jog between each acceleration. Interval training builds endurance and speed and can provide confidence in race situations.
Cross-training. Runners have options on this day. Strength training, core workouts, and many other activities are acceptable. Light hiking and walking are also good ways to raise the heart rate. Runners should not overexert themselves while cross-training.
Hill training. This should be the most difficult day during the work week. Hill repeats, stairs, and intervals are all effective training methods. The idea on this day will be strength, stamina, and endurance. Feeling comfortable moving uphill and downhill will be critical to runner success.
Cross-training again. An easy effort will get the blood pumping while still offering a rest from training.
Tempo training. Runners will begin with a short warm up. They will then increase to race pace for pre-determined amounts of time. A cool down will complete the workout. Runners will get their legs used to running at race pace. Tempo training will improve runner stamina without wearing them down for the weekend's effort.
Long runs and two-a-days. Runners will begin the program with longer runs on the weekend. After several weeks, runners will split the longer runs into two. Runners will go out once in the morning and once in the afternoon. This can also be a good opportunity to run at night.
Rest. Runners will allow their bodies to heal from the previous week's activities.
As the weeks go along, we'll check back to see how our training is progressing. We'll also be sharing lessons learned and other interesting team notes as the race nears. And if all goes according to plan, we'll have some shiny new medals to show off around the office.