This morning I received this query from a trail runner who has been utilising my trail running training planners for her preparation for Ultra Trail Australia.
I am following your UTA50 trail running training planner which I finding to be great & flexible for my needs.
But … with the postponement of Ultra Trail Australia events coming up in May I’m wondering how to go forward from here with my training schedule? I know it may not be easy to work it out as there is no time frame involved yet for the event to go ahead but any advice you could give to me & other runners training for UTA would be so greatly appreciated.
This is a very big challenge as we now find ourselves rapidly changing tact in the face of massive event cancellations and more time spent at home. This has certainly been front and centre of mind for me. So, today I want to provide some advice for how we can ‘change tact’, including how to prepare for an event if you are unsure of when the race date will be. Here are my suggestions:
Return to Base Training mode:
I believe that most event organisers will be required to look at race dates in approximately 6 months’ time, maybe a little more. This means that the earliest you will likely be racing again is mid-September. In light of this, and no matter how fit and strong you are feeling, I strongly encourage you to return to Base Training mode. That is, a focus on your aerobic development through:
I write more about aerobic base training ideas in my Trail Running Guidebook. You will also find that returning to the very beginning of one of my Trail Running Training Planners is not stepping backwards, but rather adding to the process of consolidation.
Find quietness and playfulness amongst the ‘outside’ noise:
We are living in such a news-filled, social media-fuelled frenzy right now. But unless you have actually been ordered to quarantine I strongly suggest you keep finding quietness and playfulness outdoors. I personally suggest doing this early in the morning, when the day is at its most calm. Afterwards you will be ready to tackle anything that is thrown at you in the day! Here is what I suggest:
Still go for Missions!
Don’t miss out on the greatest joy of all – the Mission! You may even want to incorporate a few extra shorter Missions to help you stay sane. Head out alone or with a friend (although run with a gap between you). If you are alone this is either a time to enjoy the tranquillity or listen to podcasts, such as my Find Your Feet Podcast. If you are heading out solo, perhaps consider investing in a Garmin InReach Mini like I have been using on my own solo missions. If you are interested in this great safety device you can discuss this with me or my Team at Find Your Feet.
The goal does not have to be a race:
Perhaps you were going to do a race and it was cancelled? Perhaps you were affected by one of our Find Your Feet Tour cancellations? Or maybe you hadn’t yet found your ‘thing’? I personally have spent a lot of time over the last 3 years setting myself my own challenges, such as my French Pyrenees Traverse or recent Western Arthurs Traverse in Tasmania. There is nothing stopping us from hatching lofty dreams and working towards them, heading out to the mountains or coastlines where the trails still weave, the trees stand tall and proud and the fresh air awaits us. To help you ‘find your thing’ begin by asking yourself my favourite question, ‘What if…?’
Maintain your strength at home:
Whilst most gyms are not yet closed, it is probably a good idea to steer clear of these. This doesn’t mean you need to lose your strength. In fact, if you are going to increase your running and walking loads, it will be important to ensure these muscles are fully activated and strengthened to cope. Here are some of the exercises that I utilise into a 15-20min circuit. I love to do this workout prior to my morning harder or longer runs (ie. 2-3 days per week). You will need to pick 4-6 exercises from the list below and combine into a circuit (one to the next to the next…). I repeat the circuit 3 times or to fatigue.
Use walking or cycling as your cross-training:
Again, I would be avoiding gyms, pools and group activities. The great news is that there is honestly nothing better than a solid, long walk or ride for cross-training. So, grab your walking shoes or dust off your bike and find solitude in these activities on your easy days (or at the end of your hard day as an alternative second session after work).
There are so, so many YouTube options for doing yoga at home. I love to do a short 20-30min yoga workout in an evening, or even in the middle of the night if I am too awake and cannot sleep. I would start finding your favourite workouts on YouTube.
Mindfulness & Meditation
I am not the individual who can crawl out of bed and sit still straight away. For me, the mornings are for playfulness and movement. However, I still fully believe in the importance of meditation, especially in these times of such chaotic news messages. I have a few methods that I utilise:
You can run on a treadmill:
Yes, it might be unpleasant but you can absolutely still exercise on a treadmill if you have one. I personally always put a treadmill at an incline of >2% and begin slowly until my core muscles begin to activate. Aim for sessions that are shorter in duration but higher in quality, such as your tempo runs or longer aerobic intervals. I write more about aerobic training ideas in my Trail Running Guidebook.
Get yourself equipped for winter & solo running:
Here are the items that I personally use for my winter running and personal safety, especially on the longer missions.
When certainty returns, pickup your training on the appropriate date:
If you are using my Running Training Planners, once you have a date confirmed for your event or lofty Mission, pickup your training on whatever date fits into your training schedule. Ie. if you suddenly are left with 15-weeks to train but you have been using my 6-month UTA100 Training Planner as your guide, skip forward to the point which would mark 15-weeks to go. You will have such a base fitness that you can launch straight back into your training.
If you need any one-to-one assistance, I am here to help! Visit my website for lots of inspiration, tips, advice and my training planners: www.hannyallston.com.au
If you need further advice with your equipment or apparel for winter, my Team at Find Your Feet would love to help – www.findyourfeet.com.au
Finally, I thank you in advance for any support you can provide us during this challenging time! It is now that we need to support one another even more.
Keep striving to play wilder.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.