How To Train For the Six Foot Track Marathon
How to approach your training for the Six Foot Track Marathon
Do you know how to structure your training so that you can run fast to Cox's River and still have the strength and endurance to run a fast and efficient back half of the course?
Here is our guide on how to approach the 14 weeks leading up to the event.
Training for a race like the Six Foot Track Marathon, which starts with 15km of downhill running, and then packs in 1500m of vertical elevation over the next 30km, requires more thought, and more structure, than training for a road marathon. You need to have the confidence and skill to descend the Nellies Glen stairs efficiently, and the quad strength to cope with the 14 km's of downhill running all the way to Cox's River.
Cox's river is where the race should really begin, but for a lot of Six Foot Trackers, especially first timers, it ends up being the point where the race actually ends. A lack of downhill training combined with "overcooking" yourself by getting caught up in the hype and running too fast to the river, means your legs will be shot, before the first climb has even begun.
Once you cross Cox's River there is a 5 km steep climb up to Mini-Mini saddle, followed by a short and sharp descent, and another 4km hard and steep climb to what is known as Pluviometer. From the top of "Pluvi" you have to negotiate the undulating Black Range Road which feels brutal and mountainous with 26km of hard running already in your legs. At the end of The Black Range you will eventually cross Caves Road, for the final 3km steep and technical descent to the finish line.
If you want to run a fast and successful Six Foot Track Marathon, your training plan needs to prepare your legs for the climbing and the descending, and it needs to give you the mental strength and physical endurance required to run hard all the way to the finish line.
There are a number of elements you need to include in your training plan to make the Six Foot Track a successful race
- Long Trail Runs - on mostly runnable terrain (rather than technical single track)
- Uphill Reps - to increase aerobic power, high-intensity fatigue resistance, pain tolerance, and run-specific strength.
- Updown Reps - to improve your skill and speed at downhill running, and to strengthen your quad muscles which will help you to climb strongly after the downhill sections of the course.
- Downhill Focus Long Runs - to strengthen your quad muscles so that you can still climb efficiently once you cross Cox's River.
- Stair technique training - to be able to negotiate the technical Nellies Glen Stairs without breaking an ankle, or "killing" your quads
- Tempo runs - to improve your aerobic efficiency and prepare your body for race pace.
- Recovery Runs - to add more mileage to your week without causing too much fatigue and also to improve your running economy.
- Recovery Weeks - to let your body and your immune system recover from your harder training weeks. These weeks, when scheduled correctly, will help to restore your energy for the next training build phase.
- Strength and Stability Exercises - to make your a fast and efficient runner on the uphill and downhill sections of the course. These exercises help to improve your running form, even when fatigued, which significantly reduces the chances of developing an overuse injury.
- Stretching and Foam Rolling Sessions - to improve your flexibility and mobility, and to reduce the muscle tension which accumulates with the weeks of hard training.
- Nutrition Planning and Strategy - if you get your nutrition wrong you will have a bad race. It is black and white. The Six Foot Track Marathon is too long, and too hard, to race without a proper nutrition and hydration plan which you have practiced in the weeks leading up to race day.
How should your 14 week training plan be structured?
To have a great race you need consistent training that includes strength, mobility, rest and nutrition. Most training plans I see simply don’t cover these things.
That is why I created a detailed 14 week training for the Six Foot Track Marathon. It includes:
- A comprehensive week by week training guide. With advice on how to tailor it specifically to you
- A strength program to build stability and strength for longer distances and technical trails
- A mobility program to improve your natural range of motion
- Techniques and drills to improve your running on all types of terrains
- Weekly nutrition advice from sports nutritionist Tamara Madden
- Access to a private online community, including personal online training advice
- Get to know other entrants and meet some training buddies along the way