Planning your training and racing for the months ahead
I often find March to be the hardest time to maintain focus for a peak race at the Vermont 100. March is when weekly mileage (and weekend long run mileage) starts to creep up. March is also when I hit my limit on ability persevere through cold and wintry conditions as I’ve likely ran every dirt road and good road loop within drivable distance. The trails are often reaching the icy time period when they are unrunnable for a few weeks (up to a month) as everything transitions from winter to spring. It’s just a tough time to stay motivated! So, it means it’s a great time to take the time to plan out the coming months of training and racing.
While everyone approaches thing differently while gearing up for the VT100, here’s some broad guidance on timing (working backwards from the race, which is what’s easiest to do when planning). So, race weekend is July 19th – 21st…that’s our starting point.
Most folks use a 2-3 weeks taper leading up to the race, which means that your training will be cut back and your body will be gearing up starting July 1st or July 8th through race weekend. Your biggest training week is the week before taper. That means you should hit peak mileage during the week of June 24-June 30th, or week of July 1-7th (depending on the length of your taper).
The ideal time for a big tune-up race is 6-10 weeks out, so during the May 13th to June 9th window. For folks running the 100 miler, you want to be looking at a 50 mile or 100k race. For those running the 100k race, you want to be looking for a 50k or 40 mile (6 hour?) race. Keep in mind that if you need to complete a qualifier race, it must be completed and submitted by June 1st. (A great option for a qualifier race is the ‘last chance qualifier’ at Chesterfield Gorge Ultra on June 1-2nd). I typically aimed to do my last goal race around 8 or 9 weeks out, so May 20th through June 2nd, as it gave me enough time to recover from the race and get in one more solid training block before VT100 tapering.
It’s beneficial to have more than just the one ‘tune-up’ race to build-up the mileage. However, this is a personal preference on the runner’s part. Mid-April to early-May is a great time to do a marathon or 50k option prior to your tune-up race. If you’re not one to do too many races, that’s also a great time to start including some longer training runs to practice fueling, nutrition, even test out your race kit.
Once you have your races and goal weeks scheduled, it’s much easier to fill in the training in between the big stuff and start to build your training plan so you are prepared to have a strong day at this year’s Vermont 100!