Planning the season is a must for the long distance runners -highly exposed to injuries and overtraining- in order to get the best results. We will focus in the longest competitions taking place in Menorca: the ultratrail CDC in May and the camidecavalls360 in November.
There is no magic formula to be successful in an ultra trail race. You can either follow a perfect training planning and have a bad day during the race or having trained only about right and then perform a good race. The latter is not very common and, therefore, it is always wiser to plan your racing season thoroughly.
Now that we are thinking of the competitions that we would like to attend this season, it is just the right moment to build a training plan to have a sharp strategy which is flexible at the same time, allowing us to improvise in case of emergency or in case we add new races to the plan.
Your main goals
At ARTIEM Sports Club we call the most important competitions the main goals, as we are going to focus our trainings all throughout the year on those races. Some runners register in several ultra races over the same season, a good recommendation, however, is not to run more than three ultra races in one year. Would it be possible to run more than three races successfully? It would, but if that was the case, then you might be at risk of sliding into a spiral which could lead you to have body injuries or even to get stressed for something that should in fact unwind you.
Your main goals
Yoir main goals can be one, two or three. Should they be more than one, make sure that they take place in a period of time of at least three months. It is the minimum amount of time for the body to recover from the effort needed, for going back to training and finally resting before the next competition.You should also take into consideration some recommendations for nutrition in races in order to optimise your training sessions.
A good real example would be to run the following ultra trail races in Menorca: CDC in May and Epic360 in November. You can find here how to register in IX Otso Trail Menorca Cami de Cavalls CdC 2021. Should you decide to have these two main goals, you will be able to have four months to rest between both competitions and your body is going to appreciate it.
Your secondary goals are those competitions in which you participate as a mere training or simply because you really feel to run those races (la liga illa dels trails: trail de barrancs, trail dels fars.. for instance). A secondary goal should be a race shorter than an ultra race, being a marathon the longest distance recommended.
Between a secondary goal and a main goal there should be between three and five weeks difference in order to guarantee that we manage to implement the deviations from the main training plan that are needed and we still have the time to rest.
Following our example, a secondary goal could be a race taking place in February, March or from September onwards. Should your secondary goal be a short race that you would like to run for pleasure, then you might get closer to the date of the ultra trail race, but never two weeks or less before the ultra race. this is the minimum amount if time needed for your body to recover from your trainings.
The ultra trail pre-season
The preseason is a leg that cannot be skipped. This phase is to the race like the foundations to the building: you might not see them, it might not be the funniest part of the plan, but all your work lays on it and, at the end, the results achieved will probably depend on it.
The preseason should take at least two months, fully working on your power and starting to work on your volume. We could include a secondary goal during the preseason, as long as the race takes place at the end of this phase, over the last two weeks. Therefore, should our main goal take place in May and our first secondary goal in February, then our preseason should start in December.
Your rest times during an ultra trail training
It is very important to plan your times for rest and, especially, follow the schedule. An ultra trail race involves a mass destruction on a cellular and on a muscular levels. This is the reason why the two weeks after running an ultra trail you should rest combining both passive and active rests. Over these two weeks you should not take part of any competition nor train intensively.
The period right before an ultra trail race you should make a tapering training, reducing the intensity and the duration of your trainings in order to get fresh to the race. Make use of the active rest and do not skip your rests, because resting is an important part of a training plan.
The importance of flexibility
Once our training plan for the season has been finalised, we should be realistic and be ready for changes. Not only because of sport reasons such as an injury but also because of any other reason: family, work or personal reasons.
Therefore, it is not only important to have a plan but also to have a B plan that will helps us to react quickly, should we have to change our goals. Your main goals will probably be less easy to change and you will have to look for alternatives beforehand. Try to find races in a space close by and on similar set of dates, like the ultra trail races in Mallorca, Ibiza and Formentera.
Your secondary goals such as cross races or track races are easier to change and they could even be cancelled if needed. Many of these races are organised on the island and if the aim was to run them as a quality training, you can change the race for a long training day or for an intense training session.
Remember that your rest is so important as your training. More is not always better. Better is always better. Enjoy your training!
Paco Arnau, Javier Lorente