I probably spend nearly as much time reading running books as I do actually running. Some books are biographies, some are training manuals, almost all are inspirational in their own way.
I’ve read quite a few Ultra specific training books, but most of the included training plans seem to be way beyond how far I want to push things. I’ve read some great books about how to come up with some decent training plans tailored for yourself (basically anything by Greg McMillan or Matt Fitzgerald is likely to be good).
The book that’s had the most influence on my training is Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20 Running, which has really helped to to think about how I can run more while not breaking myself. By ensuring that most of my runs are low intensity (recovery runs, easy runs, long runs) with just some high intensity work (hill training, tempo sessions etc) it seems that I can indeed run for longer each week than I previously thought possible.
Obviously I’m hoping to avoid any training niggles. Adharanand Finn’s The Way of the Runner about running in Japan was a fascinating insight into Japan’s running culture (I also really enjoyed his Running with the Kenyans). More importantly, however, he talked about how he’d learned more about functional running and ensuring that the body is sufficiently strong, flexible and balanced to run.
And that led me to the book he mentions, Kelly Starrett’s Ready to Run. I already had some strength training in my training plan but this book inspired me to tweak those sessions to include more flexibility and balance work.
I’m currently doing four runs a week with two strength/flexibility sessions. Every month or so I’ll do a back to back weekend and run both days. My ultimate goal is to be able to do two 55km days in a row, as that should be a good test that I’m ready to do 165km in a single session.
I still feel a bit of a way off my peak (I hope so at least!) but some of it might be the very long summer - I certainly do better when it’s cooler.
Today I did an out and back that was supposed to be 30 mins out, 30 mins back but I just ran out of energy for the return and it ended up taking me 34 minutes.
Here’s my UT4M training plan. Some of the later sessions might be a little overambitious (although given that 45km with 2500m elevation takes me 6h40, maybe a few 7 hour sessions won’t do any harm). Getting my recovery right is probably the key. I took an easier week last week and yet I still don’t feel like I’m getting any stronger, so I need to keep an eye on that.