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Training Advice

COTSWOLD WAY CHALLENGE TRAINING PROGRAMME

The following training programme was written by professional ultra marathon athlete Darryl Carter, who is also the current record holder for running the Cotswold Way trail in one go (20 hours & 36 minutes).

The Cotswold Way Challenge is a unique event that will be run over four consecutive days covering a total distance of 100 miles! Unlike many other races this multi-day event requires a different form of training.

These notes are intended for those with a reasonable background of base fitness.  You may have already competed in a marathon and/or ultra-distance running race.  If you have not then there is no reason why you cannot still prepare for and compete the Challenge if you give yourself plenty of time to prepare.  If you intend to walk/hike then you will still need to get some miles in the legs beforehand.  You can use the training table I have created (below) as a general guide, replacing running with walking, and extending the longer sessions as appropriate.

 

Training and Periodisation

 

Each training season is split into the phases of Preparation, Competition/Execution and Recovery, and Transition.  These phases are again broken down into mesocycles, generally lasting 3-4 weeks before being repeated.   Each mesocycle ends with a recovery week, with the preceding weeks providing the meat of the training and either following a balanced (same), or progressive (increasing) volume of hours per week.  The volume of hours you can train each week will of course depend upon your background and current fitness levels.

Below is a 16 week training programme using a progressive mesocycle (4 week), that will help prepare you for the Cotswold Way Challenge.  As I have mentioned, this is very much for someone with a reasonable background of endurance running (5-15hrs/week training) wishing to complete the event.  This is an optimal programme so you should gradually build your fitness levels before you begin.

Before you start the training programme you may also wish to take part in a few challenges of your own!  You can build up the distances of your main running races (off-road races can be a lot more rewarding as well as less damaging on the legs than the road), or perhaps run and walk back-2-back long distances at the weekend.  It is just as important to get time into your legs as distance, so why not take a backpack (with a packed lunch) and head to the hills for the weekend – a good excuse to visit some of the more beautiful parts of the countryside like the Cotswold Way.

Try and develop your form and technique with off-road running, particularly over hills.  This will also help strengthen your legs and prepare you better for the event.  Walk up any steep hills on the longer sessions and take this opportunity to eat and drink.  This will increase the amount of time on feet without the same muscle fatigue experienced on long-distance road running.  Shorter weekly sessions can still be carried out over local hills (if available), only this time you may wish to drive hard up the hills and/or run fast on the downhills which again will help improve form and specific running technique.

Equipment and Safety

However you train, make sure someone always knows where you are and carry an adequate first aid kit, (charged) mobile phone and navigational equipment (maps, GPS).  The weather can change dramatically over a long weekend in the hills so make sure you have all the clothing (waterproofs) required.

Always take more nutrition than you expect to use.  Everyone is different but as a general rule you’ll require anything from 400-800ml/hr and 200-400cal/hr depending on the intensity of session.  On hotter days increase your liquid intake if required and include electrolyte or salt tablets (if advised to do so).  You will need to ensure you take enough protein in your diet.  This is especially important on the mornings following hard training days (including the Challenge itself).

Enjoy the training, and the very best of luck in what will be a very special event!

16 Week Training Plan for the Cotswold Way Challenge

 

Week

Mon

Tue

Wed

Thu

Fri

Sat

Sun

Total

1

Rest

1:30

Light

0:30

Light

2 x 1:00

Light

Rest

1:00

Steady

Hills

1:30*

Light

6:30

2

0:30

Light

1:30*

Light

Hills

1:00

Light

2 x 1:00*

Light

Rest

1:00

Hard

2:30*

Light

8:30

3

0:30

Light

1:00

Steady

Hills

0:30

Light

2 x 1:00*

Light

Rest

4:00*

Light

3:00*

Light

11:00

4
Recovery

Rest

0:45

Light

Hills

0:30

Light

0:30

Light

Rest

0:15

Light

4:00*

Race

optional

6:00

5

Rest

1:00*

Light

1:00*

Light

1:00

Hard

Rest

3:30

Light

Inc Walk

1:30

Steady

Inc Walk

8:00

6

0:30

Light

1:00

Steady

Hills

1:00

Light

2 x 1:15

Steady

Rest

4:00*

Light

2:30

Light

Inc Walk

11:30

7

0:30

Light

1:00

Steady

Hills

1:00

Light

2:00

Light

Rest

5:00*

Light

4:00

Light

Inc Walk

13:30

8
Recovery

Rest

0:30

Light

0:30

Light

1:00

Light

Rest

1:00 Steady

1:30 Light

4:30

9

1:00

Light

1:00

Steady Hills

1:00 Light

2 x 1:15

Steady

Rest

2:00*

Hard

2:00

Light

9:30

10

Rest

1:00 Steady Hills

2:00

Light

1:00

 Steady Hills

Rest

4:00

Light

Inc Walk

3:00*

Steady

11:00

11

1:15

Light

1:00

Light

2 x 1:15

Light

0:45

Light

Rest

5:00

Light

Inc Walk

3:00

Steady

Inc Walk

13:30

12
Recovery

Rest

0:45

Light

Rest

0:30

Light

Rest

0:15

Light

5:00*

Race

optional

6:30

13

Rest

1:15

Light

1:00

Light

0:45

Light

Rest

3:30*

Light

Hills

1:15

Light

7:00

14

Rest

1:00 Steady

Hills

0:30

Light

1:00

Light

Rest

2:00

Light

Hills

1:30

Steady

6:00

15 taper

Rest

1:00

Light

0:45

Light

0:45

Steady

Rest

1:00

Light

1:30

Walk

4:00

16 taper

Rest

0:30

Light

Rest

0:15

Light

Day 1

17M

Day 2

27M

Day 3

25M

Recovery

Day 4

33M

Rest

Rest

Active

Recovery

Rest

Active Recovery

Rest

 

Shaded indicates recovery and taper periods

Bold indicates a potential race of a similar completion time

* Runners may wish to walk these sessions, but extend the volume by 50-100%