This part follows my initial post: http://www.hungryrunner.net/#!My-Hungry-Runner-story/c1wsl/573feff80cf293e8d8d8ca59
When setting a season plan you need to ask yourself a lot of questions. What are my abilities? What is an achievable goal? What do I want to achieve in the years to come? The best way to answer these questions is to look back at your sports history, but also to look forward at what your dreams are.
I have always been a sport enthusiast. I played tennis for years, skied a lot and was a fanatic rock climber. Before I started running, I was surrounded with people that were already doing it. My brother was racing ultra’s and my girlfriend was running for pleasure (for those that know her, running was not a walk in the park!). Then, one day when I was living in The Netherlands, I had a finger injury and I could not climb anymore for several weeks. To stay active, I started running. I joined the Wageningen running club (the marathon group of course) and I managed to follow as my legs were strong from all the rock climbing (apparently carrying 15 kg of climbing gear up to a cliff is a good workout!).
After several weeks of training, Saskia told me there was a 15 km race in the city nearby (27 000 participants!). So that is how I got to my first race starting line. I finished in 1h09, it was tough!! But I caught the bug!! Not long after, I was inscribed for my first trail run and then followed my first marathon. The more I ran, the longer the race distances became.
Now, after several years of racing, I feel like I manage well races that take up to 7 or 8 hours. But after 8 hours of running, I start to have trouble eating and racing becomes difficult. Because of that, I had to pull out during a few events as I just had no energy left. However, I also finished some ultra’s with times that satisfy me, but even during those races I wonder if my lack of nutrition slowed me down. I keep on asking myself, how fast can I go if I get control over my nutrition?
So what are my goals? I want to run iconic ultra-trail races, like Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, Ultra Trail Mount Fuji, Hard rock 100, Western states 100. All these race are 100 miles long (which is more than 160 km!!) and have an elevation gain up to 12 000 m.
Can I do that? Yes, I think I can. But I don’t want to start a race just to get to finish it. When I start a race, I want to do it well. Therefore, I do not want to try any of these races this year and maybe not even in 2017. I want to focus on 100 km trail runs first, until I feel that I really manage the effort.
Now that I know my goals, I have created my race calendar for 2016. Below I listed my races and gave them grades of importance, with A being the most important race and C being the least important race:
July 17: Airlie Half Marathon (C): This race will be a speed test to set new speed zones. I will race slightly tired.
August 14: Cairns to Port Douglas 64km (C), test nutrition on a long distance.
September 11: Whitsundays trail run 56km (B). I could not miss such a spectacular race!
End of October: 100km ultra trail (A)
With my race calendar set, I can start planning my trainings while keeping in mind my strengths and weaknesses:
- My body can handle big loads of training
- I do not get injured often
- I am positive and my motivation is high
- I have motivated people around me
- I have a good racing mind
- My goals are clear
- I have trouble eating during long races
- My climbing is average
- I believe I lack strength and that affects my hill running and speed
- My flexibility is average
- I need to get faster, as faster = better times
In a perfect world, we would not have any weaknesses! A training plan is an attempt to get closer to this perfect world and to make every weakness a strength. Luckily, I like planning. I see it as a chess game. At the start you place your pieces strategically. Once your game is set, you need to make good moves at the right time to take control of the game and finish with style. I plan my trainings the same way. First I want to build a good base. Then I want to get more specific, keeping in mind that every training affects the overall picture. Once I achieve all this, I know I will have a great race that I will finish with style!