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Trail Running: Big Vert Ultra Marathon - RPE

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Trail Running: Big Vert Ultra Marathon - RPE


Uphill Athlete

All plans by this Coach
4.63 (145)


20 Weeks

Plan Description

If you are targeting mountain running race or events with major elevation gain and loss or are considering running one of the famous multi-day routes in the Alps, this plan is for you. This plan is ideal for someone coming from a good mountain running background who can handle routine 30 to 50 miles (50-80km) weeks. If you are mainly challenged by the daunting elevation demands of these runs and wonder how you'll even get your legs to handle that much vertical, or live and train in a place that does not have easy access to mountains, this is a plan designed to help you prepare for runs that contain a large (for you) amount of elevation gain and loss.

We have made this plan customizable to fit the needs of as many different runners and events as possible. The weekly volume (distance, time and vertical) totals shown in the plan summary do not show the actual progression you will make. You will determine the starting weekly distance and vertical gain/loss based on the event you are training for. Weekly distance and vertical will start at about 50% of that event's largest single day's total and then progress to about 90-100% of that figure for longer events and more than 100% for shorter events.

While we have done our best to make this plan customizable to fit a wide range of event lengths/vertical, it is not possible to accommodate every possibility. In cases where distance and vertical gain/loss do not fit your event please substitute hours as the way to calculate training volume.

The progression of the program will help those who need to develop running specific muscular endurance and boost their fatigue resistance. The key difference in this plan vs most other running plans is the inclusion of a special gym based circuit style strength workout to build the key muscular endurance. This workout is used 1x/week in progression from more difficult in the first 9 weeks (extendable up to 13 weeks) before moving to more traditional long uphill interval workouts for the next 8 weeks. Specific leg power is built using our hill sprint workout progressing through the first 10 weeks before transitioning into short uphill intervals for the development of anaerobic endurance during the remaining weeks.

This plan is based on your RPE, or Rate of Perceived Exertion. Workout intensities are guided by how hard you are working based on your perception of effort (how hard the workout feels to you) rather than by heart rate. This is an adaption of the original plan for those who want to learn to calibrate their effort levels in their workouts. It's also a great option for those who don't have a smartwatch or prefer not to train using technology.

Send us your success stories! You might also want to visit our free forum at where you will find answers to the most common questions about our training plans.

Happy Training,
The Uphill Athlete Team

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Training Plan Sample Week


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
Run x6
08:25:00 04:30:00
Strength x1
01:08:00 02:07:00
Day Off x1
—— ——
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
08:25:00 04:30:00
01:08:00 02:07:00
Day Off
—— ——

Training Load By Week

Uphill Athlete by Steve House

Uphill Athlete

Uphill Athlete has a strong mission: to inspire and educate mountain athletes through education and celebration. We wrote the books on training for mountain sports. On our website, you'll find a wealth of science-based, mountain-proven resources, including articles, videos, and podcasts. From trail running to climbing Everest, our expertise covers it all.

Uphill Athlete offers coaching, a monthly membership program, training plans, and valuable free resources for learning and enjoyment.

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This plan is protected by our Refund Policy and may, with the author's approval, be exchanged for a plan of equal value from the same author.

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