1 month backpacking in prep for ultra

  • Creator
  • #55820

    Hi all,

    I’d like your opinion on my training as it will be very unique.
    I’m training for a 120km run with 6000m of ascent in early october in the Pyrenees. I’m going to aim for a time under 20 hours which seems very challenging but doable.
    As for my training, I’ve been running a lot with not so much of ascent until now, peaking at around 80/90km weeks with 2000/2500 of ascent. I’m doing in ten days a prep race of 80km with 2500m of ascent, which I plan to do in 10 hours (did it in 10h15 over two back to back workouts).
    Then I’m leaving mid-August for 5 weeks of backpacking through the Pyrenees, aiming to do about 1000km with 60 000 m of ascent, with a light baseweight (~5kg), but often carrying 3 to 5 days of supply for both me and my dog, so carrying between 6 and 13kgs.
    I will probably finish this trip about 3 weeks from the race.

    I’ve been thinking about it for a few years now, that a very long backpacking trip must be a very good preparation for ultra running, if complemented with some actual running. I’m curious to know how it will go.

    Doing the backpacking trip, I’m wondering if there are things I can do to help me prepare as best as possible for the race. The trip itself should be a very good preparation, but maybe I could dedicate 5 to 10 hours a week to do something else than backpacking, to help with the training.
    Any insights would be deeply apprecited, but I’m particularly wondering about :

    – Should I do some strength work or climbing 1500m with a backpack everyday should be sufficient for both core and legs ? (I will also do some yoga most of the mornings, lunch, and end of the day)
    – Should I go for a quick run one a week? twice a week ? three times a week ? Or would one long run (half a day) per week without the backpack would be enough ? And if I do run should I try to aim for some elevation to practice descending fast on technical terrain, or should I try to do some flat running for leg turnover and speed ?
    – Any other way I could prepare myself ?

    Also after the backpacking trip, I was planning on just resting for 1 week, then do 1 week of running with mainly flat running, and then taper for one week.

    Thanks for the insights!

  • Participant
    TerryLui on #56172

    Hi Sacha,
    Can you share some more info on what the backpacking trip will be like? From your description, it sounds like you will have flexibility in your schedule to incorporate training during the trip???

    The main thing that jumps out at me is you’re planning on doing what appears to be a fairly significant backpacking trip and then shortly afterwards going into the ultra:
    1) How to incorporate muscular endurance workouts during the trip
    2) Depending on the scope of your trip, what is the potential that you’ll be outright tired/fatigued upon returning?

    I’ve asked the other moderators/coaches to chime in as well but at the moment, your summer/fall plan seems very ambitious and I would be concerned about proper rest/recovery

    Anonymous on #56177


    Terry has asked some good questions. Especially regarding how fatigued you might be at the end of that trip. No one can answer all the other other questions you have asked without knowing just how much this 1000km will take out of you.

    If it is within your capacity to handle such a trip I think it will be excellent preparation for the race. From the number you give the gradient of both the race and the backpacking route will be similar. You’ll be averaging around 29km and 1700m /day for 35 days.

    In a 120km race with 6000m elevation change leg turn over and speed will not be a factor in you your success. What will be is durability and I think you are going to get that just by doing the backpack trip.

    The biggest danger I can see is that you try to fit in too much running training or ME/strength work during the trip and end up tired for your race. Doing hard down hill running or hard ME. My recommendation is to not add additional hard training as the downside risk is too high with only 3 weeks between.

    I hope this helps,

    sacha.abecassis on #56194

    Hi Terry, Hi Scott!

    Thank you for taking the time to answer, I was stared to think I would not have answers on my post. 🙂

    To answer your first question, the backpacking trip will be just me and my dog. I´m very used when I backpack to do very long days in the mountain, starting early and finishing quite late, and going moderately fast for a hiker. So I usually average about 25 to 30 miles (40 to 50km) a day. My dog is still quite young and I do not want to push him, also I have been practicing yoga a lot the past two years and I want to include that in the trip, so I will probably be doing yoga two to three times a day, giving some time to rest for my dog. But as it is just him and me, and I have no planned day of arrival, so I am very flexible and do not need to keep going toward my ¨goal¨ every day.
    Given the average mileage I have planned for this trip that is quite low for me, I don´t think I will end up tired, but I already thought about keeping it very easy the last week, tapering a little bit.

    AS for the other questions :
    1) I have been doing a lot of ME strength workout the past months, I did not plan to do additional specific strength during the trip, as I will be doing elevation daily with a backpack one. Also I will do a lot of yoga and most of the yoga I do focuses on strength.

    2) As said earlier, compared to what I´ve been doing I don´t think I will be fatigued afterwards, and if I am, since I´m very flexible I can take it easy to very easy the last week.

    I hear you and do agree that it may be a lot to add training during the trip. I planned to do a few additional out and back summits depending on how I feel, I will probably try to drop my bag before just to do them a little faster, but without putting too much intensity.

    I will keep the UA community informed of what I did and how my performance was for the race! 😉

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