January Training Recap

Inspired by the likes of fellow Salomon West Vancouver Ambassador Solana Klassen, I’ve decided to start doing monthly training recaps in hopes that some might find it interesting, if not a little educational, and possibly even useful. It’s already mid-February, but better late than never, right?

The Plan

Fall had of course been unseasonably dry so there was no shortage of volume going into my trip to Nepal in December, where  I trekked almost every day for 3-8 hours and ran every 2-3 days for at least an hour (at altitude). So not much of an ‘off’ season to speak of this year.

January was supposed to be about easing back into steady running after returning, doing a bit of snowshoe running, getting back into strength training, and taking up skate skiing as cross-training. I’d planned to start the Peak Centre Vancouver’s speed work clinic mid-month and slowly ramp my weekend volume up to about 5 hours with back-to-back 2-3 hour runs.

I tend to focus on ‘time on feet’ and elevation gain when doing my longer trail runs on the weekends, as opposed to distance. For example, I might aim for 4 hours on a long run with around 1,200 metres of gain (plus equal loss). I typically run 6 days a week, with two strength work sessions, one speed work session mid-week, and a rest day on Friday, followed by back-to-back long runs on the weekend.

Periodization was supposed to be practiced, with speed and strength being the focus and volume coming later.

The Result

I ended up jumping back into my regular routine within a couple of days of returning from my trip, running over 60k that second week of January, including binging on almost 6 hrs / 50k on the weekend with 1900m of gain. The next week was even bigger, with almost 9 hrs on-foot and over 2,500m of gain that weekend alone, including a really great day of snowshoe running at Garibaldi.

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I started my bi-weekly strength training about mid-month, along with speed work at the track. Unfortunately, I think my relatively heavy volume for this time of year was negatively affecting my speed work as I’d find I just didn’t have it in my legs come Wednesday.

My coach Mike at Peak was quick to remind me that I’ve got a long, 11-month season ahead of me, and that I risk getting ‘stale’ early on – the biggest benefit for me and I think for most ultra runners in having a coach is having someone to hold you back at times as there’s nothing I’d like more than to be out on the trails for 8 hours a day. I think we may see a lot of local ultra runners burning out much earlier this year, given how dry it has been all Fall and Winter.

The ski season has been a bit of a bust and I only used my Cypress cross-country pass twice in January. I could see really getting into skate skiing next season though – although it’s definitely much more technical and a little tougher than I had anticipated!

Final Stats for January:

  • Distance Run: 217 km
  • Time-on-Feet: 31 hrs
  • Elevation Gain: 7,800m
  • Cross Training: 4x strength, 2x ski

I find it tough to keep my weekend volume down because I’ve met so many great people this past season on trails, and I hate missing out on the fun. If I have a rest day scheduled but you invite me to run somewhere like the Chuckanuts in Bellingham, anywhere in Squamish or Whistler, or anything involving running in the snow, you can bet I’ll be there.

These past couple of weeks I’ve tried my best to keep my weekend volume to under 5-6 hrs, and I’ve seen some huge improvements in my performance in (and therefore the quality of) my speed work.

February’s Plan is to keep focusing on speed work as I continue to build up volume, with a couple of shorter races coming up in March and my first 50k of the year not until April. I just have to remember: Periodization; Periodization; Periodization.

How was your training in January? Did you binge on a little bit too much volume too?

Jeff Pelletier
Written by Jeff Pelletier

I’m a trail and ultra runner from Vancouver, a proud member of Teams Salomon and Suunto Canada, and a Sponsored Ambassador for CLIF Bar and inReach Canada.