hakko wrote:Interesting article! I do agree with some of it, but the comments about correlation between training amount and results made me a little skeptical. Maybe it's different for ultra races, but I've seen a figure posted about training amount and marathon results where it was almost linear (more training = faster time). I'd like to read some more scientific studies on mind vs physical training for ultra runners though.
Bear in mind he's not saying you don't have to put in the miles. He's just saying that you don't need to bang out 100 mile weeks to do well, because there are far too many factors to account for over the course of a trail ultra (and even a trail marathon). Training volume for ultras varies massively, even amongst the top runners (ultrarunners tend to race a lot more than marathon runners, but you also have to bear in mind the top runners also have the time to run more, because they're being paid to do so). There are simply too many other factors to consider that influence race performance (terrain, route profile, weather, nutrition, sleep deprivation, running at night, running alone, nausea, hydration, nutrition, for example) for training volume to be the key factor. Even for short, fast races like the marathon I don't think you can just look at training volume and decide that's the key. There are so many different ways the same volume can be broken down over a training cycle/training lifetime that it alone becomes meaningless (see http://www.run-fit.com/olympictrials.pdf
for some good info).
As an aside, Kilian Jornet's total mileage this year is 33km, done at a Salomon kit testing week. He literally does no running between November and May, because that's skimo season (Emelie Forsberg is pretty much the same). Last year his first race of the year (as it will be this year) was Transvulcania, where he did his first running of the year in La Palma, about 5 days before the race which he won and set a new course record. Kilian doesn't even track distance. He is, however, hard as nails and the best mountain runner in the world. Sage Canaday hovers around the 120km/week mark but runs for time (when he was running for the Hansons he was doing 130 mile weeks, no runs over 20 miles, and half the team were injured). Sage is a 2:16 marathoner. I don't think Kilian has ever run one in his life.
Edit: forgot to add the most important reason why you can't compare training volume and finishing time in trail ultras: finishing time isn't really relevant - you can't compare races, even on the same course.
“Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end. Then stop.”