Occasionally someone will contact the running club or this blog and ask a good question regarding the Ridge Run. Posting the question and answering it here benefits not just those asking, but also benefits anyone interested in more information about the Ridge Run.
We welcome your questions. Submitting a question is as simple as commenting on this blog. Getting back to the question:
Question: How Long Should I Train?
This question is fairly broad and general.
I’m not sure if you mean:
How long of training or preparation period do you need leading up to the race?
How long (in hours) should your longest single training session be?
Since both are good questions I’ll answer both.
12 Week Focused Training Period Theory
The Ridge Run occurs in the 31st week of the year. As of this writing, we are in the 14th week of the year, nearly half way to the Ridge Run. Periodization science regarding training indicates that the body can handle about 12 weeks of intense training leading up to a peak. Hard training for a longer period than 12 weeks can lead to fatigue, breakdown and not much in the way of further benefit. After a period of 12 weeks of focused training, a cycle of recovery and less training intensity and volume helps the body heal, adapt and regenerate.
With that in mind, a good time frame to begin your serious preparation for the Ridge Run would be around the beginning to middle of May.
Off Season Training
Warning, periodization does not mean that before you begin your training in May that you do nothing. Au contraire, you need to maintain and even build your base fitness all year round, just not at the intensity and volume reached during your focused 12 week training period. Think consistency. Reaching your full potential requires years and years of consistent smart training.
A bare minimum during the offseason to maintain a base level of fitness would be 3 to 4 training sessions per week. The total time spent training per week would be 2 to 4 hours minimum. That may not seem like much. Especially compared to elite runners that train for upwards of 20 hours per week, but remember the 2 to 4 hours a week are the minimum.
Your Focused 12 Week Training Period
During the 12 week build up to the Ridge Run, aim to slowly double your training volume. Your peak volume occurs about 9 to 10 weeks into your training period. This would be around the 3rd week of July. Shoot for getting up to 8 hours of training per week. The 2 to 3 weeks before the race you taper back down by slowly reducing volume to a level (4 hours per week) half that of the peak. During a taper, you reduce volume, but maintain quality and intensity.
Minimum Length of your Longest Training Session
Your longest single training session should be at least half the length of your projected race time.
For example, if you expect to do the Ridge Run in 6 hours, your longest training runs should be at least 3 hours. And these long runs should duplicate the pace and terrain of the Race. Again, this is a minimum. Many people do much longer training sessions. Just make sure you do not overdue it and get injured or end up reaching the Race date, tired fatigued and worn out. On Race day, it is better to be fresh and slightly under trained than over trained and worn out.
See the Best Of page for suggestions on types of training geared specifically for the Ridge Run.