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Pace-Based mostly Exercises for Ultramarathon Coaching – iRunFar

Ultrarunners are robust. We should be with a purpose to fulfill the calls for we ask of our our bodies and minds throughout lengthy distance occasions. Undoubtedly, there comes a time in most races when an ultrarunner’s psychological and bodily mettle is put to the take a look at. Although brief in period, performing difficult speed-based exercises is a method to simulate pushing via troublesome race-day eventualities by studying to beat the physique’s need to gradual or, worse, cease.

The necessity for speedwork has been hotly debated within the ultrarunning neighborhood. Western States 100 winner Geoff Roes and I current our respective instances in Bryon Powell’s guide, “Relentless Ahead Progress.”

Speed work ultramarathon training - redrock

Photograph: Human Kinetics/Kirsten Kortebein

As a result of we enter occasions and embark on journey runs for very completely different causes, speedwork might not be crucial for each ultrarunner. Nonetheless, this type of excessive depth coaching offers advantages that will assist resolve efficiency plateaus and tedium introduced on by the exhaustive nature of lengthy distance coaching and racing.

Physiologically, these often-overlooked dynamic exercises educate us to run tougher for longer by enhancing:

  1. Metabolic pathways that assist us retailer and use gas sources extra effectively.
  2. Biomechanical benefits that reinforce correct operating kind and vary of movement.
  3. Recruitment and progress of fast-twitch muscle fiber.
  4. Lactic acid buffering functionality.
  5. Oxygen uptake from the blood as soon as it reaches the muscle tissue.

These enhancements, working in live performance, enable us to succeed in our most cardio capability or VO2 max.

What Is VO2 Max?

VO2 max refers back to the most quantity of oxygen a person can use throughout intense train. This measurement is an indicator of an athlete’s endurance and cardiovascular health. The extra oxygen you possibly can make the most of throughout onerous bouts of train, the upper your VO2 max, and the extra energy you possibly can produce throughout a exercise.

VO2 max has a genetically predetermined ceiling. Much less match people can anticipate to see huge beneficial properties via VO2 max coaching. Nonetheless, as health improves, it turns into harder to see enchancment as you shut in on this predestined most.

Apart from genetics, there are different components that affect VO2 max together with:

  1. Age: VO2 max usually peaks within the mid-20s and declines as you become older.
  2. Biomechanics and Method: Inefficient runners (as a result of poor method or important leg size discrepancies) expend extra vitality than those that are environment friendly.
  3. Atmosphere: Operating floor, temperature, altitude, wind, and hills will alter oxygen consumption charges.
  4. Fatigue: Muscle injury from onerous coaching and racing will inhibit correct mechanics and effectivity.

A generally requested query is that this: Does a better VO2 max all the time result in success? The reply: No. There are nonetheless a number of different components that weigh closely in efficiency final result.

  1. Lactate Threshold Coaching: As mentioned in Stamina-Based mostly Exercises for Ultramarathon Coaching, lactate threshold coaching may enable an athlete to run farther sooner.
  2. Psychological Health: If health ranges are equal, the victory will all the time go to the runner with the larger will.
  3. Bodily Well being: Correct restoration strategies and dietary habits will assist in efficiency enhancement.
Speed work ultramarathon training - dirt road

Photograph: Human Kinetics/Kirsten Kortebein

The Exercises

Pace-based exercises, typically known as VO2 max intervals, final between one and 6 minutes with paces that emulate an 8- to 15-minute race. Quick, intense reps! Coronary heart price for this type of coaching will vary between 94% and 98% of most. As a result of we will solely spend a brief period of time at these speeds, a restoration jog is required between repeats. These jog intervals ought to final roughly one-half the space or the identical period because the quick operating. The objective of the exercise is to spend a complete of 10 to half-hour at these fast speeds.

Examples of those sorts of exercises (after an intensive warm-up) embody:

  1. A collection of 1 minute quick and one minute jog rotations.
  2. A number of 4- to 5-minute quick repeats with 4- to 5-minute restoration jogs in between.

Any mixture of quick repeats and jog recoveries will suffice so long as the depth falls throughout the parameters above.

Implementing Pace-Based mostly Exercises

These exercises could be performed on any flat to rolling floor with good footing. Take into account that the aim is to run quick, so technical trails ought to be prevented.

Any such coaching stresses the musculoskeletal system. Harm may end up if a runner does an excessive amount of too quickly. If you’re new to one of these exercise, begin on mushy surfaces corresponding to a monitor, treadmill, or well-groomed filth path. Till you are feeling snug, run only a few of the shorter size intervals (roughly one minute) at a conservative tempo. Integrating a modest quantity of speed-based exercises into your coaching plan is all it’s good to reinforce environment friendly operating method, achieve physiological advantages, and reinvigorate your coaching.

Name for Feedback

  • Do you combine speedwork into your ultramarathon coaching?
  • In that case, in what methods have you ever discovered it useful?
  • Do you take pleasure in it, or does it really feel like a chore?


  • McMillan, Greg. “Operating Physiology and the 4 Coaching Zones.” McMillan Operating Grownup Camp. SpringHill Suites, Flagstaff, AZ. 11 Might 2012. Lecture.
  • McMillan, Greg. McMillan Operating Firm’s On-line Teaching Normal Coaching Data Packet. Flagstaff, AZ: McMillan Operating Firm. Print.
  • Noakes, Timothy. Lore of Operating. 4th ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2003. Print.
  • Powell, Bryon. Relentless Ahead Progress: A Information to Operating Ultramarathons. Halcottsville, NY: Breakaway, 2011. Print.
Speed work ultramarathon training - singletrack

Photograph: Human Kinetics/Kirsten Kortebein



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