Mountain-Ultra Training Plan 

by Coach Sandi Nypaver and Coach Sage Canaday

Plan Details

Distance: 50K to 50 miles

Goal: PR

Weekly Volume Max: 64-84 miles / 103-135km

Experience Level: Experienced

Looking for Something Else?

By downloading this plan, you agree to our Terms and Conditions  Please consult your doctor before trying anything new. Upon checkout, you also subscribe to our email newsletter (which you can easily unsubscribe from, if you don’t like it)

About This Plan

Is This Plan for You?

This plan is for more experienced ultra runners who normally place in the top half of the results in ultras. This is an advanced mountain-ultra plan for “Sky Running” style races with big vertical gain and loss and lots of steep hills/mountains. If you really need/want to work on hill running it could also be used for races like Quad Rock or Mountain Masochist (moderate amount of vertical gain/loss with easier terrain). It tops out at 64-84 miles per week (103-135km/week). This will include challenging workouts to give you the best possible chance to reach your goals in mountain ultras from 50km to 50-miles (80km).

For this plan we suggest that you have already been running 45-62 miles per week (72-100km/week) for a couple of weeks and have previously peaked at at least 62-75 miles per week (100-120km/week) or more while training for past races. If you haven’t run a single week over 62 miles (100km) per week in your running career yet, we highly recommend that you take several months (or even a year) to build up your mileage base so you are consistently averaging at least 55 to 65 miles (about 100km) per week on a regular basis without any serious injury before starting this training program. It is also highly recommended that you’ve done some trail races and/or have run up and down mountains. 

What’s Included:

A 16-week calendar grid chart with everyday specifically detailed with a training workout. The plan progresses with periodized phases to build your fitness, speed and strength so that you peak for your goal race in 16 weeks time. For every hill workout there is a treadmill option.

 The Higher Running Training Plan Guide covers everything you need to know to train intelligently and race your best. We’re very thorough so all your questions will be answered. Topics covered include:

  • Pre-run warm-up (video and written workout)
  • Core strength workout (video and written workout)
  • Terms and types of workouts (heart rate, pace, and effort guidance)
  • Pacing
  • What to do if you get sick or injured
  • What to do if you want to add in a “training race” from 5ks to ultras
  • Elevation gain and loss formula, how to include hills and mountains in your training, and other mountain specific guidance
  • Cross-training
  • Race day planning with worksheet
  • How to make the training plan work for your personal schedule
  • How to get the most out of your training plan
  • Post-race advice

Also included is the Key Training Zone Intensity Chart that visually defines key workout efforts.

First of all the layout of your plans is excellent and easy to set up and follow. The comments for each week are well thought out and seem to be directed right at me with great reminders about mindset and how to focus for the week, the comments attached to the speed and long run days workouts are super helpful and really pinpoint where the focus should be and also provide understanding about where you might be in your training give direction based on how I might feel that day. Having each run have a range to run in and not just one specific distance or time is so helpful as it allows the uncoached runner using a plan to feel good about their training as long as you stay in the range and not feel like a failure if you don’t hit one specific distance or time. As this is your Mountain Ultra plan it was so helpful for me because I had never trained for one before and if I would have tried to train without your plan I would have way over trained and been injured long before race day. I always thought that to train for a Mountain Ultra I would have to find a way to get to elevation every single run which would have been a huge mistake! Your balance of running elevation and then flat or rolling runs was perfect and allowed me to recover properly and successfully get through all 18 weeks of the program without missing a run or even getting a niggle. At 54 that is a huge bonus as recovery generally takes longer than when I was a bit younger:) When I started the program I made a decision based on the difficulty level of the race to try and run the top number on the ranges you provided and do the maximum volume as laid out in your plan. I was able to do this and still recover well before each next run. One thing I did do because you mostly referenced 50km and 50 mile ultras on many of the long run days to increase some of the Long runs a few Km’s because my race was well over 100km. As with every training plan life got in in the way a few times but having used your plans many times before and watched most of your youtube videos I was able to move around the runs and execute them on different days on occasion to accommodate each situation and not miss a run or cause any detriment to the quality of my training. I did go and partake in a training camp on the race course about a month out which did two things: it gave me the confidence to know I would be ok during the race and to know that my confidence in using one of your plans to train for this was well placed. I was able to train the last several weeks before the race with purpose, secure in my mind  that your knowledge laid out in this awesome training plan was going to get me to the start line in the best possible condition and mindset. I did arrive in my best condition and mindset. I was able to finish the race and maintain a consistent pace from beginning to end and finish by gaining many places in the standings on the back half of the race when many others were faltering. Like any race of this magnitude, problem solving played a big part but this was mostly in equipment and nutritional areas and had nothing to do with my fitness. I climbed as strong at the end of the race as the beginning and was able at the end to actually still race and surge as needed. I completed the race in 18:23:51 for 40th over all and 7th in the 40+ masters category. Using your plan allowed me to feel fit,strong and powerful for a very rewarding day doing something I love and being able to look at all the beauty of the Rocky Mountains and really take it in because I wasn’t completely suffering.
 I would recommend your plans to anyone. I have used them from the beginner level to now 8 years later finally able to use the advanced plans and to success.  -Barron

Mountain-Ultra Training Plan

Why our plans are different

This plan is derived from the theories and practices of the most legendary distance running coaches and exercise scientists from around the world: Arthur Lydiard, Jack Daniels, Renato Canova, and Peter Pfitzinger to name a few. Unlike other “cookie-cutter” training plans that just list mileage and a general pace, this Higher Running plan gives you essential specifics on how to do workouts at the right intensity for the most beneficial training stimuli. Furthermore, it does not follow a strict 7-day cycle (like most competitor’s plans), because at Higher Running we believe some workouts take longer to recover from and adapt to. Therefore sometimes recovery running days are extended and shortened appropriately to give you an ideal boost in fitness. Most other plans do not take this kind of periodization into consideration. Our Higher Running guideline gives you the information you need to make the plan more specific to your needs and the race you’re training for.

We realize that great coaching is both a science and an art – and we’ve used this philosophy (as well as knowledge gained from our own careers as runners) along with experience from coaching many others, to create a plan that emphasizes consistent, smart progression: A true Higher Running™ experience!

Follow Us!