Running is a lot about planning, structure and quite frankly the proper training, which in turn, requires a fair bit of training. Here I’d like to lay out my race plan for 2017. The questions I will try to answer will always include why I am running the particular race, how it fits in the big picture, what the goal for the particular race is and how I will be able to train for it (in theory).
The primary race this year is going to be the Zugspitz Supertrail XL in mid-June, which is preceeded by two races. The TrailRUN21 in late March as well as the Schönbuch Trophy race at the end of April.
The TrailRUN21 is a trail-halfmarathon with about 600m of elevation gain. It starts and ends in ‘Zell am Hammersbach’ in Germany’s black forest. The primary goal is to get in a good trail workout as part of my buildup for the upcoming races. I’m also running it to spice up the early season a little more. By then it will have been almost three months since my last race and a little race every now and then usually also helps a fair bit with motivation in training. Having been sick way too often this winter, it is also going to be a little form test. The field last year was rather strong so I don’t have many hopes to finish on the podium and I haven’t yet gotten enough alitituted in during my training to really perform well in this kind of setting. But that’s alright. It’s supposed to just be fun and another practice run for the upcoming trail races. As such, I’ve also not been tapering a lot for the race. Race week will see me total just over 80km and the week before I’ve done 100k. Within race-week I took Monday off, went for a tempo session on Tuesday, 15km on the trails on Wednesday and 19k of forrest tracks and roads on Thursday. Currently it is Friday, which will see me running about 10k in a little bit. Saturday will be a rest day, before the gun goes off on Sunday.
Once again we are racing on the trails. The race will be a trail-marathon with about 1100m of elevation gain in total. On the 30th of April it will be five weeks after the TrailRUN21 and seven weeks away from the Zugspitz Ultra. I’m still not certain wheter signing up for this was such a wise idea, since it will take me a minimum of two weeks just to come back from the race, which will then leave a mere five weeks of preparation until the Zugspitz race, which will also require a two-week taper, leaving me with a three-week training block, which will probably already see me decreasing mileage towards the third week. So what I’m saying is that I’m not certain whether I’ll be racing the Trophy all-out, or whether I’ll just take it as a somewhat more intense long-run. At the same time however, I don’t usually like doing that because I feel like it’s a bit of a waste. So where does that leave us? Well, I’m probably going to race it all-out, hoping that I’ll still be able to get enough training in for my first ultra-marathon.
Last year I did the same race as a relay with my dad and we even managed to pull of a win which will also make it that much harder not to race all-out with quite a few eyes on my performance. That is not aided by the fact that the race takes place in my hometown Herrenberg. Anyways it will surely be a strong workout and the slower pace compared to a normal marathon and the moderate elevation gain involved should make a reasonable recovery possible. If I run well and the competition is not too strong I might even be able to get a podium finish. I’m excited to see how it goes!
During the weekend of the Zugspitz Ultratrail 2017 in mid-June, I will be running the Supertrail XL race which is an 81km ultramarathon, covering about 3000m of elevation gain. It will be my first ultramarathon race and poses a challenge like none I’ve ever faced. The past two years I ran a marathon each fall, followed by an adventure run a couple of weeks later once I was recovered. In 2015 that was a 55k with about 1500m of elevatoin gain and in 2016 it was a rather flat 75k. That gives me the confidence that I should be able to cover the distance, which still leaves the 3000m of elevation gain to cover. So in summary, this puts me in a position where I genuinely don’t know how (or even if) I will be able to finish this race.
That is exactly what’s drawing me to it though. When training for my first marathon I was training with the pressure of potentially not being able to finish. Not knowing what will await you at a certain point in the race pushes me to be more focussed, more committeed, and more prepared to train harder. So that’s what the next months will be all about. Getting myself in the right physical shape and the right mental state to run this race. With the considerable amount of altitude that is to be covered I am also looking to spend a couple of days in more mountainous terrain to get my body used to those hard and long climbs. My training will also incorporate a lot more hill repeat sessions than it has before. I’m also evaluating gear choices and nutrition plans and everything else that may become relevant.
With all that in mind, I hope that the preparation will suffice to get me through this long race. It sure will be tougher than anything I faced so far, finally dragging me out of my comfort zone again.