|June 14, 2016||Posted by Melinda under Equine Endurance, Most Popular, Ultra Running|
When I first started training for marathons I did what I expect most people do and followed a training plan that told me what to do every day of the week for 16 weeks.
It worked OK in the beginning, but as I became more experienced I was able to separate out the key runs and elements in the programs that *I* needed to do in order to be prepared for the distance and build my own program around it that fit me and my lifestyle better than any “canned” program can.
When I started out in endurance and was training for 50 miles and beyond, there weren’t training schedules available. Most of the advice I was given was a lot like my marathon training – key rides or “check points” and some basic training concepts. It was up to me to fill in the blank space between these things that worked for me and my horse.
In this post I wanted to share the “boxes I check” prior to attempting distance runs and rides.
For each of the horses I have conditioned for endurance, this check list would have slightly different things on it. It’s individualized not just for the rider, but for the horse. These are the bare minimums that Farley needs before arriving into ride camp for a 50 miler.
Such a list is built on experience and refined as the successes (or failures) occur. As a result I have a pretty solid list for Farley’s 50 mile distance, 100 mile distance, and my own marathon/50k efforts.
But what about if you are just starting out? How do you know what workouts and elements are key and really matter?
The answer is that you talk to a lot of experienced people that you trust. You ask them what is on your check list. You make a check list for shorter distances that you are comfortable with and try to extrapolate from them.
It works a lot better than some generic training plan for a generic horse and rider. Trust me.
Here’s an example of some check lists I’m still working on.
I’ve done 2 50’s. One was a wild success. The other I did not finish. I’m not sure yet what the “must-do’s” are for a 50 yet, but I’m figuring it out. This list will be refined as I get more input!
What about a distance I’ve never done?
Yeah. My mind can’t even contemplate going that far so I’m having a bit of trouble…..
I suspect that as my 50 mile ultramarathon check box list gets refined, my 100 mile list will look more and more legible. And at some point I will have actual points on this list that when checked make me think that perhaps I’m ready to try a 100 mile ultramarathon. Based on that
disaster learning experience I’ll be on my way to creating a useful 100 mile list!
This is great. Bringing Fiddle back from injury has made me completely re-write the checkbox list. Right now the list says:
____ Finish a week of trail building soundly
And that’s all.
So, stay tuned, I’ll let y’all know if we achieve our ONE box!
I really appreciate this post but am having a HORRIBLE time trying to read what the text says on some of these…. :-/ 1 ride of at least 3 1/2 hours within the last ?? (6?) weeks. Preferably 3 (???) something…. ?? Any chance you can reformat? I’d love to post and share with people.
It was readable on the computer so I thought I was safe but on small screens it is hard! I’ll have to rewrite it when I get home. (it’s actual hand notes so have to redo it, not just reformat)
I’m actually ON my computer! LOL Sorry, maybe it’s more of a “me” issue, but did want you to know as I think it’s good information. Just hard to process in that format.
You are the only one so far but I was Generous and said “a couple” in my note on the post because I’m going to assume that other people besides you will have trouble 🙂
I, uh, may have had a bit of trouble the first time around – but I figured it was just a “me” issue and I should give it another few tries before saying anything. Way easier to process with the typed text, and now completely readable in the images now that I know what they say, of course. Thank you!!
Something I’ve found very interesting with endurance is the concept of competing higher than you condition. Coming from the english world where you always show down (schooling 3′, showing 2’6″ or schooling 2nd level, showing 1st) it was weird to me that endurance rides don’t school longer, harder rides than they compete in. It makes sense as you don’t want to wear the horse down; I understand the whys, but it’s still something I have to wrap my head around. And I’ve seen that the endurance runners do the same thing.
That’s so true! Starting at about the marathon distance in running it’s often suggested that you don’t need to run more than 20 miles in training in order to finish a marathon, especially if you do some really long slow runs where you’re on your feet for the expected completion time of your marathon. Because that was my background when I started doing endurance this concept came really naturally for me and I didn’t even think twice about it. Maybe that’s one reason that people with different backgrounds question it while I never did? Even now it does seem a little crazy to me that we can go so far in competition without doing that distance and training, but the other interesting thing is just how much mental long-distance is instead a physical at some point.
A very experienced rider told me that “a 50 miler is just 2 x 25 milers strung together”. Ergo, no need to train over more than 25 miles for your first 50. And it’s very true,but I still battled endlessly with only training that distance before starting our first 50.And again before starting our first 100. It’s really hard to trust your gut, but that’s basically what you have to do (and simultaneously hope to finish whilst being comfortable with the idea that you may not!). I STILL battle with it -knowing my horse is fit enough logically: emotionally wanting to go and do more miles. Joe has twice finished 100 milers with only one 50 mile ride in the build up to it,so he is a classic example of a horse where rest is as important, if not more so, than work. But he’s a seasoned horse.
Oh and the mental thing? Joe ran his second 100 miler only 2 weeks after a (relatively easy) 50 (last minute lending of my horse to someeone else!) So not exactly “ideal”prep. He finished in MUCH better form,MUCH brighter and sounder. Cos he’d done it before. He knew how long the trip was.
This is so helpful for me. My horse is older and not green but still new to endurance. So much of the advice out there is geared toward young horses and I struggle at times finding what’s best for us. Sometimes I need permission to figure out my own path. 🙂
Excellent post! I am bad about writing out specific goals, but I have them in mind and they’re pretty close to yours for the 50 mile horse distance.
I think that this is the first time I’ve ever actually written them down, even though I’ve probably had the 50 mile horse one solidified in my mind for the last five years or so. It was kind of neat to do this post and put them down on paper and realize how well they actually work for me 🙂
I have been told my handwriting isn’t the best in the past so I take no offense!!!! :p