Jan 26

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The Most Unconventional Way to Train for an Ultramarathon

ActiveATX prides itself on going against conventional wisdom and proving a point. We feel that humans should have a broad general and inclusive level of fitness. We call this General Physical Preparedness or GPP. Essentially, we should be good, not great, at pretty much any feat. This held true for the Big Bend Ultra Marathon 50k run that Team ActiveATX ran January 15th, 2012. 

Team ActiveATX at the finish line

Here is my training log for the month leading up to the race. The training was unconventional to say the least but it worked for me, finishing in under 6.5 hours. That isn’t very good, but I trained to finish and that is what happened. Was this a stupid way to train? Did I risk injury? Should I have specified more?

My longest run was 10 miles about 5 weeks before the ultramarathon and I probably logged about 20 miles of total running within the 5 weeks leading up to the race. I worked on leg strength, sprints, keeping the ankles and calves flexible and recovered. My main point of training like this was that there are a variety of variables for training. Time commitment, age, gender, training age, mental strength, psychological tolerance etc. If I went out there an made myself run the traditional high mileage distance that most ultramarathoners run, I would have most likely dealt with an overuse injury to the calves, I would have been forcing myself to do something I do not particularly enjoy (did I mentioned I despise running, although I know how good it is for the body with the right implementation) and I would have sacrificed by GPP for the benefit of becoming a more efficient runner.

My limitation during the ultra was groin cramps for the last 12 miles. I credit this to dehydration or electrolyte imbalance, not the training leading up to the race. My point is this; there is seldom a one-size-fits-all approach to anything in life. No one medicine and dosage to lower your blood pressure, no one way to train for a long run, no one workout routine that will make you ripped. Through experience, knowing the many factors that are involved in successfully reaching your goal (running a race, being ripped etc.) and the constant pursuit of applicable knowledge, you can make an informed decision of the best way to achieve your goal.

After the race I set a new 20# PR so I do not think that I lost too much strength. If I ran a lot leading up the race, one of my main concerns was sacrificing strength for muscular stamina. Here is what I got out of training for the race my way:

-I acheived a goal I set and experienced Big Bend in a way few will

-I did not get injured

-I maintained my GPP

- I actually enjoyed the race, had a great time with Team ActiveATX and had an experience I will never forget. Here is a video recap of the race. 


7×2 Front Squat



6 minute AMRAP

10 Toe-to-bar

15 Box Jumps

6 rounds + 2 reps


10 mile run at Town Lake in around 1:45


6×2 Push Press



A. 60 max pull-ups unbroken

B. 5x Power Snatch/5x Snatch for 5 rounds with 45#

C. Snatch Balance 3 sets of 10 with 45#

D. 5R/5L Clean and Press with 70#KB; rest 1 minute x 3 sets

E. :30 second max effort row; rest 2 min; 180m/178m/168m/172m


Push Press 4×2


Back Squat 3-2-1


3 sets of 10 reps of Strict Hollow Body Pull-ups on fat bar


4×8 WTD Dips


5 TnG Deadlifts

:20 Airdyne sprint



A. Split Jerk up to 225#

B. Hang power clean x 1/Front squat x 2/push press x 2 rest 90 seconds with 185#

C. 15 chest-to-bar pull-ups on fat bar rest 2 minutes x 3

D. Double under skill work


20# weighted run for 30 minutes

1 hour of foam rolling


:30 sec airdyne @ 90%

:30 sec airdyne @50% x 10

Run 600m easy pace

:30 sec airdyne @ 90%

:30 sec airdyne @50% x 10

Run 600m easy pace

:30 sec airdyne @ 90%

:30 sec airdyne @50% x 10


7×2 Thruster


8 minute AMRAP

10 Thrusters 65#

10 K2E

7+15 reps



A. Pronated pull-ups with 58# @2010 tempo; rest 2 minutes x 3; 7-6-6 reps

B. Overhead squat 160# doing 5 sets of 3 reps working on depth

C. Snatch balance – worked to 205#


A. 7 reps hang power snatch 95-105-105; rest 1 min

B. 3x 8TnG Deadlift @ 315# :20 ec airdyne sprint

C. 3x 8 hang power snatch followed by :20 second resisted run; 105-115-125

D. 3x 10 sandbag slams 40#/10 burpees/150m sprint/rest 3:30


20 ghd sit-ups

25 push-ups

20 ghd

20 pull-ups

20 ghd

25 push-ups

250m row

20 pull-ups

250m row

25 push-ups

250m row

20 pull-ups



3 miles run in PM on beach


Lots of foam rolling and stretching on calves


Tabata Run :20 second sprint/:10 seconds rest


Team workout

I did 130 80# sandbag lunges

25 skin the cats+lower from invert

2x fireman carry

1:30 handstand hold


A. 50 strint handstand push-ups on wooden parallettes 

B. Tabata 40# snadbag slams

C. Ab wheel


4x 1k run on beach; rest about 3 minutes between rounds


5x max strict chest-to-ring pull-ups

Max depth push-ups

Rest as needed; 152 reps


5x not for time

20 alternating pistols on snad

15m sand handstand walk


With 20# weightvest

100 walking lunges

100 sit-ups

100 lunges


@AM Snatch balance double up to 175#

@PM presses with chains and weighted chin-ups


A. Back squat 6 sets of 3 with chains 175+chains-180-185-190-200-205

B. Weighted chin-ups @ 31×0 2 reps x 4 sets 20# weightvest+40# chain+ 55# dumbbell

C1. 2 legless rope climbs

C2. 80# lunges 16 steps x 3 rest 2 minutes


A. Power snatch x1/OHS x 3 with 135#

B. OHS @ 41×1 tempo 6, 4, 2 185(4)-185(3)-185

C. 1-12 unbroken chest-to-bar pul-up ladder in 6:29



5×5 Bench press 205-210(4)-205-205(4)-205(3)

3x 30 double unders 15 overhead squats 95# in 3:51


Back squat 5×2 with 4 minutes of rest between sets



10 minute amrap

increase reps per round. start doing 1 rep, then 2 etc.

strict pull-up

ring push-up


9+10 push-ups


1.8 mile hill run in 14:50


500m row in 1:29


A. Clean grip deadlift x 1/ Power clean x 2/ Split Jerk x 1 185-205-215-225

B. Clean grip deadlift double 315-365-405(1)

C. 60 bench press at 185#; every time you break bench press set, 15 ghd sit-ups


A. Back squat 135# with 2 30# chains 8 sets of 3 @ 20×1; rest 1 minute between sets

B. Back squat double at 275#

C. 1-5 UB Hang Clean ladder x 4 in 11:20


3 sets

8 deadlift TnG 315#

60 second airdyne – around 20 calories

rest 2 min


3 sets

10 55# DB swings

12 burpee broad jumps

rest 2 minutes

3 sets

15 chin-ups

20 unbroken push-ups

25 butterfly abmat sit-ups


A. Hang Power Snatch singles on the minute up to 160#

B. TnG Hang Power Snatch 21, 21, 21 at 75# rest 2 minutes working on speed not weight

C. Barbell walking lunges 12 steps; rest 2 minutes; 135-135-155


1.8 hill run in 15:10


5 sets 7 TnG Push Jerk/15 chin over vertical plane pull-ups 165-175-175-165-155


:25 sec row sprint / 2:35 recovery 148m/145/144/143/144


2 mile hike


Run 50 kilometers at the Big Bend Ultramarathon



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