A fair number of athletes who've googled up for "The Most Beautiful Thing (TMBT)" have found their way to this blog because of my race reports for TMBT 2011 as posted here (Part 1) and here (Part 2); and TMBT 2012 as posted here. Some of them, especially the first-timer ultra trail runners, have asked me for training advice not only because I've experienced the TMBTs, but also because I'm a Sabahan and presumed to know a bit more about our local terrains. But after a while, their questions have begun to sound very similar to one another, and I've decided perhaps it's a good idea to share whatever little that I know here in this post.
Let me hasten to say, however, that I'm not an expert in trail running. In fact, I don't even have a proper training schedule for the ultra 100km. I am for the most part a road runner, and I hardly ever run trails unless if I've signed up for a trail-running event.
Unfortunately, I have signed up, and now training for, the Sundown Ultra 100km in Singapore scheduled for 14/15 September, and will therefore have to give TMBT 2013 a miss since the latter falls on the same dates. And that is quite a shame, because it appears that TMBT will be even more challenging this year!
Now a standard training programme for an ultra trail is very punishing to say the least. Apart from the weekday runs of not less than 10km each and often rising to 15km each, there are the so-called back-to-back (B2B) long runs on Saturdays and Sundays; and when I say long, I really mean long! But you see, I just don't have it in me to follow that "standard" training programme, so I have modified it a bit to suit my own (limited) ability as well as the amount of time I have for training. Therefore, I can never dream of finishing among the top finishers. But it is still possible to target a "decent" finishing time.
I still continue my weekday runs, usually 3 days on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and each not less than 10km. Then my weekend B2B comes in a slightly modified form, i.e. cycling on Saturdays and LSD run on Sundays. By doing so, I'm hoping to spare my knee for a bit. I rest on Mondays and Fridays, although this recently, I also swim on those days. On alternate Sundays, I did hill training on village paths (we have plenty of those), and I would peak about 3 weeks before the race with an approximate 12-13 hours of hillwork on Sunday. After that I would begin to taper for the race.
There isn't much more to share except that for those not used to the Sabah terrains, I would recommend a good dose of hillwork, especially those of you who are used to running only on flat roads. So if you haven't already done any hillwork up to now, it's a good idea to start soon. Hills, hills, and more hills. And after you have done those hill trainings, do some more hill trainingsit's almost like it can never be enough! You just have to trust me on thiswe have ridiculous hills here in Sabah, and I'm only talking about the foothills around Mount Kinabalu!
So there you go, quite a simple training advice. Good luck to you!