The Last 4 Weeks
During the last 4 weeks before the ultramarathon, I reduce training distance according to the formula that Fordyce developed (see Exercises 8.27): from 100% in the 5th to the last week before the race to 26% during the last week before the race.
During this period, the emphasis shifts to speed work sessions. I try to run four or five such sessions during the 4-week period. These should especially emphasize hill running if the ultramarathon is to be run on a hilly course.
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The Effects of Age
When I first penned these pages I was enjoying the peak physical age of the early 30s. I could not conceive that with the passage of just a few short years, much of what I took for granted would need to be modified.
Now that I am over 40,1 know there are concessions one has to make to aging. One simply can no longer train with the same intensity. One of the first great runners to consider this possibility was Jeff Galloway, who represented the United States in the 10,000 m in the 1972 Olympic Games and held the American 10-mile record.
As he prepared to turn 40, Galloway (1984) realized that the runner’s dream of racing and training immortality is a myth. He accepted that his future enjoyment of running would require a more measured approach than he had previously practiced. Based on his observations of the successful adaptations made by other older runners, Galloway has concluded that the older runner requires a day of
Rest after each day of running. He believes that recovery from a hard workout does not occur as quickly in the older runner.
Does this mean that the older runner can no longer expect to run well? Apparently not. Galloway refers to the experience of former 2:11 marathoner Jack Foster, who celebrated his 50th birthday by running a 2:20 marathon. His weekly training at the time comprised 3 days of running, with a long cycle of 3 to 4 hours on the weekends. George Sheehan also ran his fastest-ever marathon at age 62 on three 10-mile runs a week.
When I visited Galloway in Atlanta, I learned firsthand that he now practices this approach; he runs only every 2nd day and limits his running to 30 miles a week. Despite this, he still runs 10 km in under 32:00.
My own approach has been influenced by Galloway. I now run less and include swimming and especially cycling in my training schedule. On many days my muscles are either too stiff or too fatigued to run; cycling provides a gentle alternative, especially after hard races or training. Recovery from long cycling rides, which seem to be of equivalent health and possibly training benefit, is much more rapid than from long runs.