Fitting training for an ultra marathon around a busy schedule

For the last few weeks I’ve been pretty quiet on social media and on this blog. The reason? I’ve simply been too busy. With lockdown easing my social schedule has gone from the odd zoom catch-up or walk with a friend to being busy most weekends. On top of this I work full-time in a job that can at times be demanding and draining. Throw into this training for an ultra marathon it meant something had to give and it ended up being social media and blogging. 

Now that normal life is starting to feel, well, normal again I’ve been able to adjust to my old busy life. It has, however, meant that I’ve had to learn to fit training for an ultra marathon around my busy schedule. 

I’ve trained for marathons in the past, but training for an ultra marathon is just that little bit more time-consuming and intensive. Whereas with marathon training my longest run would be no more than 20 miles, with the ultra I’m planning to run a marathon as my longest training run. 

Finding new trails to run has made my ultra marathon training much more fun

The biggest shock has not been the amount of training, I was kind of prepared for that, but feeling constantly tired. Although I’m still a low mileage runner – it’s unlikely that I’ll do more than 50 miles in a week even on my longest run week – I do a lot of cross training as part of my training plan. This means that to fit my training around work, I normally run in the morning and then do a gym session (often a cardio class such as spin or HIIT and weights) in the evening. This can mean that I’m training for over two hours a day.

On a normal week day I will be up before 5am and out the door by 5.30am to fit in a run before work. Then in the evening I will often head straight to the gym from work and sometimes won’t be home until 8pm. While I enjoy the workouts it can be extremely tiring at times, especially after a busy day in the office. 

To help cope mentally and physically with this training, I upped my rest days to two a week – usually Wednesday and Friday. Strangely, Thursday workouts often feel the hardest during the week! 

My longest runs usually take place at the weekend and this enables me to do back-to-back long runs.

On top of this, as I had such a long build up to the ultra marathon, I have taken a lot of deload weeks. This has meant that I’ve been able to do a high workout week, including a long run, then reduce my workouts the next week to give my body a chance to recover. 

Having frequent deload weeks in my training schedule has not only helped my body cope with the training but also helped me mentally as it has taken the pressure off having to constantly train and has given me the time to fit in catch ups with family and friends without having to worry about fitting in long runs as well, which has been perfect during the easing of lockdown and everyone wants to meet up again.  

Although I’m enjoying my ulta marathon training, having the added rest days and deload weeks has been a massive help in getting me this far without stressing out or feeling completely overwhelmed so it must be working. 

Right now, with just six weeks to go until race day, I’m getting to the highest point of my training so making sure I take the time to relax and recover is as essential as getting my long runs done.  

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