August 13 2018
The ultimate 18-week ultramarathon training plan for beginners.
This program is ideal for someone who has been consistently running for up to an hour two to three times per week for at least two to three months. If you need to prep, run regularly for a few weeks to feel more comfortable. When you’re ready to begin the program, follow these steps.
1—Take the 1-mile test and do the math to figure out your speed zones (SPZ).
2—Incorporate a daily warm-up: 10–15 minutes at a pace slower than SPZ 1.
3—The speed zones give you an upper (A) and lower limit (B) to aim for, so you can take into account how you feel, the terrain, the weather, etc. Don’t stress about precisely hitting the specific zones. As you gain experience, it’ll be easier to dial into what the speeds feel like. Try not to look at your watch every 2 seconds.
4—RI stands for “rest interval,” when you recover before your next speed interval. The more difficult the speed interval, the easier the RI should be. Feel free to walk and err on the slow side.
5—If you want to run more mileage (because that’s what you’re used to), keep the pace at SPZ 1 or slower.
6—Don’t increase the long run each week. Keep steady and consistent week to week.
7—Always cool down 2–7 minutes based on how tough the workout is, and bring the pace down to SPZ 1 or slower.
The test is best performed at a track. If you don’t have access to one, look for a very fl at, well-measured path.
WARM-UP: 12–15 min. very easy jogging followed by 4 x 30 sec. pickups, building speed to a moderate/fast effort, with 1 min. rest in between. Then run 2 min. at a moderate effort with 2 min. rest just before the mile.
THE TEST: Reset your watch to record only this portion. Run 1 mile as fast and as steady as you can. Avoid starting out too fast and slowing way down at the end. Aim for a consistent pace. Stop your watch at the finish—use this time!
COOL-DOWN: 5–10 min. easy
Use your 1-mile time in these calculations to figure out your target speed zones (SPZ 1–7), or use our pace calculator on womensrunning.com.
1-mile pace = _______
We’ll call this 1MP.
Convert time to decimal, so 9:30 would be 9.5, for example, and then convert the results back to times.
For each speed zone, your pace should be between A and B.
Speed Zone 1 (easy/recovery pace)
1MP x 1.35 = 1A
1MP x 1.30 = 1B
SPZ 1 = 1A to 1B
Speed Zone 2 (marathon training pace)
1MP x 1.25 = 2A
1MP x 1.20 = 2B
SPZ 2 = 2A to 2B
Speed Zone 3 (half-marathon training pace)
1MP x 1.19 = 3A
1MP x 1.15 = 3B
SPZ 3 = 3A to 3B
Speed Zone 4 (10K training pace)
1MP x 1.14 = 4A
1MP x 1.10 = 4B
SPZ 4 = 4A to 4B
Speed Zone 5 (5K training pace)
1MP x 1.09 = 5A
1MP x 1.05 = 5B
SPZ 5 = 5A to 5B
Speed Zone 6 (1-mile training pace)
1MP x 1.04 = 6A
1MP x 1.00 = 6B
SPZ 6 = 6A to 6B
Speed Zone 7 (fastest efforts)
1MP x 0.99 = 7A
1MP x 0.95 = 7B
SPZ 6 = 7A to 7B