Ultra Marathon Week 6 & 7

The Training Plan

Two very contrasting weeks of training. Week 6 went to plan - ramping things up nicely in the gym and on foot. An outrageous sandbag session in the park with Fieldworks Coach Olly McCarthy, three strong 10 km runs and a nice Kettlebell session to round out the week. However, week 7 was all change. A tight hip became far too niggly and twingy to ignore. Over last few years it’s been the precursor to my back going a couple of times - a major combat indicator that I’m burning the candle a bit too hard at both ends for a dad of two in his mid 30’s…!

It’s far better to arrive at the starting line slightly less fit but uninjured so the goal for ‘training’ this week was to allow my body to recover. The sessions themselves were not designed to elicit any specific training response, rather low intensity sessions that help de-stress and aid sleep. Sleep is enormously underrated in recovery but it’s when the body heals and repairs itself - pretty obvious that better sleep helps. Lot’s of easy swimming and cycling - simply to enjoy the exercise, tire myself out and with no pressure to push anything beyond that.


Sandbagging in the park

Grab a partner and mark out 100 meters.

paRT one

Player One starts lunge-walking with the sandbag down the 100 meter track. Player Two runs to the end of the 100 m track and then back to wherever Player One has managed to lunge to. Twenty push-ups each and then swap rolls. Put 10 mins on the clock and keep working as above.

PART two

Repeat the same format as for part One. This time the lunge-walk is body weight and the run is done with the sandbag. Changeover exercise is 15 squat jumps. Same 10 min clock.

Part three

Sandbag Turkish Get-Ups… G’wan Ollie!

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Ultra Marathon Training Week 5

The Training Plan


Sessions got done this week but recovery was way off point. It’s easy to think that the work is done as soon as you’ve left the gym, but that’s not really the case. You don’t get fitter and stronger in the gym - that happens by recovering from the stresses that training induces. Lot’s of factors in the mix here but essentially you need sleep, decent nutrition and a manageable level of stress to build yourself back up stronger than before. Life can make this far harder than simply finding the hour a day to exercise. Long working hours, fatigue leading to poor eating, broken sleep (let’s not talk about a boozy Saturday)… all meant I was slammed this week. Partly my bad planning, partly I wanted a damn beer (or 5). Whatever the reasons, reflection has been done and next week it’s time to pull my socks up again on this front...

The Sessions for Week 5

One - Run

10 km Run - fast as possible but felt sluggish and weak. These sessions happen.

Two - conditioning

The Fieldworks Shunt

(See below)

three - run

10 km best effort - still sluggish but a solid gold training buddy for the extra 10% I couldn’t have done myself.

four - strength

An aborted Bench Press session. Must have done something though as I felt sore as hell the next day despite cutting this one short.

five - S&C

Jumped into the Saturday morning S&C class at the gym. Training alongside top people, loved every second of it. Lot’s of shoulders - ouff.

the shunt

It’s not a new concept in training but one I’ve used it for years when the goal is to drive up the heart-rate and test the lungs. Essentially alternating between upper and lower body exercises - blood alternately gets shunted between upper and lower body. It’s exhausting work but devastatingly effective. I put this one together 6 months ago. Brought it in at a time of 35 minuites. Tuesday saw this time drop to 29 mins 15 seconds. A massive increase in work capacity since the end of spring. Once I’d pealed myself off the floor I was pretty happy with that.

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15 Sandbag Jumps

30 Push Ups

8 x 4 KB Snatch

5 Jumping Muscle Ups

350 meter run


Ultra Marathon Training Week 4

The Training Plan

Sessions felt hard this week - the cumulative effects of recent training alongside long days in the gym. I find there are three things that help; one, a goal that means something to you. SMART goal be damned, it won’t help if you really don’t care about the end result. Two, find some ace people you enjoy training with. Three, enjoy the process… if you don’t, then really think hard about point one again…

With five weeks until the ultra, running is starting to factor into things a little more. Happy with the strength work I’ve done over the last month, ‘heart and lungs’ are feeling stronger too so the focus now is to keep both of those going whilst building my running efficiency back up again. One strength session, two ‘conditioning’ sessions, two runs.

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A Few thoughts on miles

As with every aspect of training, practice is everything. More precisely ‘perfect’ practice is everything. I’m a huge fan of keeping my running short but as fast and technically sound as I can. As soon as I loose the spring in my stride and I start grinding out the miles, it’s not an effective session for me. I’ve done many, many long miles during my career but in training it’s always been short and fast. At my most it’s between 2 - 2.5 hours a week tops, and that would be split over 3-4 runs. Come race day (or a test march) it’s about race management and knowing what your body is capable of - both of which only come from ‘match’ experience in my opinion.

the sessions for week 4

one - conditioning

1.5 mile warm-up run

1.5 mile best effort

two - run

6 mile run (managed a 6 month PB)

three - strength endurance

This sessions is where top training buddies came into play. This was hard, hard graft. I had dug a hole so deep by only half way I don’t think I’d have finished it without Becca and George - both of whom smashed it out the park.

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Bloody wednesday

Bench Press




Hanging Knee Raise

20 down to 2 reps - drop 2 reps each round

four - strength

Sandbag Squats & Sandbag Presses

10 x 5

7 mins of floor to shoulder

150m SB Carry

five - run

8 mile London dash to Tate Modern and back. Fast, fartlek type run.

Any questions or comment please ask away below!

Ultra Marathon Training Week 3

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the training plan

I find it’s around the three week mark where you start to feel the positive effects of a ramp up in training. Achy muscles persist, but at least things feel stronger and quicker. The downsides are sleep and food - it’s a spike from your body trying to adapt to the extra demands. Knackered unless you’re hitting 8-9 hours of bag time, and hungry again 30 mins after your last meal.

Still tweaking my sessions this week towards conditioning. Heart and lungs still need the focus so sprint intervals, best effort runs and ‘Ton Ups’ (see below) amongst other things on the menu. All in all a really fun week of training.

The sessions for week 3

One - S&C

A) Double KB Complex x 4:

5 C&P - 5 Lunges - 5 Squats - 20 Swings

60 s Recovery Skipping

B) Ton Ups x 3 (See Below)

two - run

6 mile best effort with 8 kg

Three - Strength

Fieldworks Mountain

A repeat of last weeks session, this time with the rest of the coaching crew at the gym. Shared suffering is far better than solo suffering!

four - Sprints

25 x 100 meter best effort sprints. Recover 100 meter walk/jog.

five - Conditioning

60 mins of bag work and plyometrics

The Ton Up

This one has been part of my training arsenal for the last 15 years. As part of Northampton Amateur Boxing Club we’d smash multiple rounds of this every session. Two minutes of work with one rest between rounds to simulate a match. The aim is to complete 10 reps of each of the following exercises. Next round, start at the beginning again.

push ups


dorsal raises

Sit ups

pike jumps


Tuck Jumps

Push ups w/ clap

star jumps

lunge jumps

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Ultra No. 2: Training Week 2

the training plan

Some heavy legs to start the week. As is always the way with ramping up the training again, things feel weaker and harder the second week in. Best not to think about it and just start lunging…

Same broad sessions as last week but swapping out a gym based strength-endurance session for a ‘Fartlek’ run. These can be pretty gut busting sessions but brutally effective for heart and lungs which felt like a weak point last week. Fartlek means ‘speed play’ in Swedish - essentially varying the tempo of a run. Pick a random marker - next bin, fifth tree, canal bridge… anything 30-50 meters away. Crank up the pace to something only just sustainable until you hit the target, slow things down again to catch your breath, find your next target then go again. A mile or so of these and you know about it but they will absolutely build you an engine!

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The sessions for week two

two - run

4 Mile Run with Fartlek intervals at mid-point.

one - strength

‘The Fieldworks Mountain’

500 KB Swings - 120 BB Lunges

Every 25 Swings do 6 Lunges

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three - run

6 Mile best effort with 8kg pack

four - Sprints

20 x 100 meter best effort sprints. Recover 100 meter walk/jog.

five - conditioning

‘Rising Tide’

2 km ski erg. At zero mins and every 2 mins thereafter do 20 KB Snatch

Ultra Marathon No. 2

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The Run

A much more civilised 73km this time. The kicker is 8,000 ft of climbing and descent.  

The Training Plan

Two strength-endurance sessions, two run sessions, one 'conditioning' session. Training time is limited so intensity and quality are the key. As intensity ramps up, recovery becomes even more important - more sleep, a sensible eye on food and... no booze. Ugg.  


The Sessions for Week One

one - Strength

All loads as heavy as possible while keeping form under control. 90 seconds between sets.

15 Deadlifts - 24 BB Lunges - 6 Sandbag Get-Ups - x 5

Two - Run

6 Mile best effort with 8 kg pack. Lot’s of hills coming up, not so many hills in East London so weight should go some way to help prep for the ascents.

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three - Strength

Similar feel and setup to session one:

15 Deadlifts - 15 Bench - x 5

Then 30 s work/rest. Max reps of:

Pushups - BB Rows - Swings - Goblets - x4

Four - Run

Same as above - aim was to beat the time from previous run.

five - conditioning


1) 6 BB Power Cleans

2) 8 Burpee Pull Ups

3) 10 DB Thrusters

4) 12 Cal Ski

16 Mins

100km South Coast Challenge - Training Week 1


Strictly speaking week 2 of training but the first I've recorded. 68 days to go - leg strength, running efficiency and general suffering on the agenda for the next few weeks... Ultimate goal is a sub 15 hour for my first ultra with enough in my legs to feel like I've finished strong! Next week I'll go into a bit more detail on how I'm approaching things and why. Any questions etc just fire away below. GLHF

330m intervals. This hurt a lot...!

330m intervals. This hurt a lot...!

Day 1:

MORNING: 20 min hard run after a 5/10 min easy pace

EVENING: 20 min circuit of 10m Dragon Crawls, 6x4 Single Arm KB Swings, 5 DB Man Makers, 15 Sandbag squats

Day 2:

330m run interval training. 10 intervals in total. 'You go, I go' format with partner.

Day 3:

MORNING: KB Complex of Swings, Thrusters, Lunges, Snatch, Push ups and burpees plus 100m-400m shuttle runs. 40mins.

EVENING: 10 sets of 10 barbell Squats, Bench, Deadlifts and Rows

Day 4:

20 min hard swim then 5 sets of 20 barbell lunges. 60kg was feeling about right on tired legs. 

Day 5 & 6: Rest

Day 7:

MORNING: 40 min steady run

EVENING: 40 min run - pace pushed a little bit harder


60kg lunges on some pretty heavy legs from the last few days of work.

60kg lunges on some pretty heavy legs from the last few days of work.