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‘Great Himalayan Running Festival’ or GHRF is the first of its kind event around the world happens in the Indian Himalayas. Running on the world’s toughest highway isn’t for the weak of will. Many have suffered from not planning well enough. Some of the most common challenges are related to the altitude, which is an average of 4000 meters above sea level, and the resulting drop in available oxygen. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) leads to a lack of orientation and general fatigue. Not good news for your plans to run a full marathon every day, for 5 consecutive days. The only thing you can do is to follow a rigorous training regimen leading up to the race, and then hope for the best.

There are plenty of training plans you could follow for long distance running, but here we give you a 15-week training program complied by Aman Yadav, a long time marathon enthusiast, designed to take your body to the optimum condition to run marathon distances, in the inhospitable air of Ladakh. This plan is built on regular running, with distances increasing marginally every day, but also includes strength training and compound exercises to develop overall strength so as to avoid injury during your runs. There’s a rest day every week, so that your body has enough time to recover from all the new load you’re giving it.

Compound exercises (CE):

  1. Warm up: Short walk and push-ups.
  2. Exercise: Dead-lifts, squats, bench press, barbell row, clean & press, pull-ups. All exercises to be performed with heavy weights.
  3. Number of sets & repetitions: 4 sets of each exercise with 5 repetitions in each set at max effort.

Individual body parts (IBP):

  1. Warm up: Walk and abdominal crunches:
  2. Exercise: biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest and lunges.
  3. Number of sets & repetitions: 4 sets of each exercise with 5 repetitions in each set at max effort.

 

We recommend you follow the plan as much as possible, but leave enough room to increase or decrease intensity as you see fit, because only you know when your body has had enough and needs an easy day. Nutrition is also very important, do try and eat as much protein as you can to help the necessary muscles develop.

Ready to get started? Check out the plan below.

 

Training Plan - Marathon

WeekMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySundayWeekly Distance
1 (27th-5th March)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 10 KmRun 15 KmRun 15 KmRun 15 Km55 Km
2 (6th-12th March)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 15 KmRun 15 KmRun 15 KmRun 15 Km60 Km
3 (13th-19th March)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 16 KmRun 16 KmRun 16 KmRun 16 Km64 Km
4 (20th-26th March)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Run 5 KmRun 16 KmRun 16 KmRun 16 KmRun 20 Km73 Km
5 (27th-2nd April)
*Note 1
Rest DayStrength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayStrength Work - 30 mins
Lightweight CE and Lightweight IBP
Run 15 KmRun 20 Km35 Km
6 (3rd-9th April)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Run 10 KmRun 12 KmRun 14 KmRun 16 KmRun 25 Km77 Km
7 (10th-16th April)Rest DayStrength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Run 16 KmRun 16 KmRun 16 KmRun 25 Km73 Km
8 (17th-23rd April)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Run 16 KmRest DayRun 16 KmRun 16 KmRun 16 KmRun 25 Km89 Km
9 (24th-30th April)Rest DayRest DayStrength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises(CE)
Run 10 KmRun 15 KmRun 16 KmRun 16 Km57 Km
10 (1st-7th May)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 16 KmRun 16 KmRun 16 KmRun 30 Km78 Km
11 (8th-14th May)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Rest DayRun 16 KmRun 16 KmRun 16 KmRun 16 KmRun 16 Km80 Km
12 (15th-21st May)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 13 KmRun 14 KmRun 15 KmRun 16 Km58 Km
13 (22nd-28th May)
*Note 2
Rest DayRest DayRun 21 Km or 28 KmRun 21 Km or 28 KmRun 21 Km or 28 KmRun 21 Km or 28 KmRun 21 Km or 28 Km105 Km
(Moderate plan-50% of race distance
-this will allow to finish)
140 Km
(Intense plan- 66% of race distance-
this will allow to perform)
14 (29th-4th June)
Taper Starts. *Note 3
Rest DayRest DayStrength Work - 90 mins
Compound Exercises(CE) +
Individual Body Parts (IBP
Rest DayRun 16 KmRun 10 KmRun 16 Km42 Km
15 (5th-11th June)Rest DayRun 5 KmStrength Work - 90 mins
Compound Exercises(CE) +
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 5 KmArival in Manali
Acclimatization Walk to Solang
Village at Altitude 2750m
Acclimatization Trek to
Bakkartacch at 3350m Altitude
10 Km
16 (12th-18th June)Acclimatization Walk
at Rohtang Pass
at 3900m Altitude
Race DayRace DayRace DayRace DayRace DayRest in Leh210 Km

Important Notes:

Note 1:  After every 4 weeks there is a down week. Down week means less kmsin that week so that the body can absorb the previous 4 weeks of training and recover to an extent.

Note 2: Max King’s recommendation to build upto 75% of race distance of the target stage race to perform, and 50% of race distance of the target stage race to have fun or just finish.

Note 3: Long Taper is required for an ultra-marathon- Dr. Tim Noakes, MD, Lore of Running, 4th Edition, pages 653-654

Download – GHRF Training Plan – Marathon

 

Training Plan - Half Marathon

WeekMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySundayWeekly Distance
1 (27th-5th March)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 8 KmRun 14 KmRun 14 KmRun 14 Km50 Km
2 (6th-12th March)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 12 KmRun 12 KmRun 12 KmRun 16 Km52 Km
3 (13th-19th March)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 10 KmRun 16 KmRun 10 KmRun 16 Km52 Km
4 (20th-26th March)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 30 mins
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Run 10 KmRun 10 KmRun 10 KmRun 10 KmRun 15 Km55 Km
5 (27th-2nd April)Rest DayStrength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Run 10 KmStrength Work - 30 mins
Lightweight CE and Lightweight IBP
Run 10 KmRun 14 Km34 Km
6 (3rd-9th April)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Run 14 KmRun 12 KmRun 14 KmRun 8 KmRun 16 Km64 Km
7 (10th-16th April)Rest DayStrength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Run 10 KmRun 12 KmRun 14 KmRun 21 Km57 Km
8 (17th-23rd April)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Run 12 KmRest DayRun 13 KmRun 15 KmRun 10 KmRun 16 Km66 Km
9 (24th-30th April)Rest DayRest DayStrength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises(CE)
Run 8 KmRun 8 KmRun 8 KmRun 20 Km44 Km
10 (1st-7th May)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 14 KmRun 14 KmRun 14 KmRun 16 Km58 Km
11 (8th-14th May)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Rest DayRun 14 KmRun 14 KmRun 10 KmRun 14 KmRun 16 Km68 Km
12 (15th-21st May)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 10 KmRun 10 KmRun 10 KmRun 10 Km40 Km
13 (22nd-28th May)Rest DayRest DayRun 14 Km or 16 KmRun 14 Km or 16 KmRun 14 Km or 16 KmRun 14 Km or 16 KmRun 14 Km or 16 Km70 Km
(Moderate plan-66% of race distance
-this will allow to finish)
80 Km
(Intense plan- 75% of race distance-
this will allow to perform)
14 (29th-4th June)
Taper Starts. *Note 1
Rest DayRest DayStrength Work - 90 mins
Compound Exercises(CE) +
Individual Body Parts (IBP
Run 5 KmRun 10 KmRun 12 KmRun 14 Km41 Km
15 (5th-11th June)Rest DayRun 14 KmStrength Work - 90 mins
Compound Exercises(CE) +
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 10 KmArival in Manali
Acclimatization Walk to Solang
Village at Altitude 2750m
Acclimatization Trek to
Bakkartacch at 3350m Altitude
24 Km
16 (12th-18th June)Acclimatization Walk
at Rohtang Pass
at 3900m Altitude
Race DayRace DayRace DayRace DayRace DayRest in Leh105 Km

Important Notes:

Note 1: Long Taper is required for an ultra-marathon- Dr. Tim Noakes, MD, Lore of Running, 4th Edition, pages 653-654

Download – GHRF Training Plan – Half Marathon

 

Training Plan - 14 Km

WeekMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySundayWeekly Distance
1 (27th-5th March)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 5 KmRun 5 KmRun 5 KmRun 5 Km20 Km
2 (6th-12th March)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 5 KmRun 6 KmRun 5 KmRun 7 Km23 Km
3 (13th-19th March)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 6 KmRun 7 KmRun 8 KmRun 9 Km30 Km
4 (20th-26th March)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 30 mins
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Run 7 KmRun 9 KmRun 5 KmRun 7 KmRun 9 Km37 Km
5 (27th-2nd April)Rest DayStrength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Run 10 KmStrength Work - 30 mins
Lightweight CE and Lightweight IBP
Run 7 KmRun 12 Km29 Km
6 (3rd-9th April)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Run 5 KmRun 7 KmRun 5 KmRun 8 KmRun 10 Km35 Km
7 (10th-16th April)Rest DayStrength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Run 10 KmRun 12 KmRun 14 KmRun 21 Km57 Km
8 (17th-23rd April)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Run 8 KmRest DayRun 10 KmRun 7 KmRun 7 KmRun 10 Km42 Km
9 (24th-30th April)Rest DayRest DayStrength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises(CE)
Run 5 KmRun 5 KmRun 5 KmRun 10 Km25 Km
10 (1st-7th May)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 7 KmRun 7 KmRun 7 KmRun 14 Km35 Km
11 (8th-14th May)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Rest DayRun 10 KmRun 10 KmRun 10 KmRun 10 KmRun 10 Km50 Km
12 (15th-21st May)Strength Work - 1 hour
Compound Exercises (CE)
Strength Work - 1 hour
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 10 KmRun 10 KmRun 10 KmRun 10 Km40 Km
13 (22nd-28th May)Rest DayRun 5 KmRun 10 KmRun 10 KmRun 5 Km Run 10 KmRun 10 Km50 Km
14 (29th-4th June)
Taper Starts. *Note 1
Rest DayRest DayStrength Work - 90 mins
Compound Exercises(CE) +
Individual Body Parts (IBP
Run 6 KmRun 6 KmRun 6 KmRun 12 Km30 Km
15 (5th-11th June)Rest DayRun 10 KmStrength Work - 90 mins
Compound Exercises(CE) +
Individual Body Parts (IBP)
Rest DayRun 8 KmArival in Manali
Acclimatization Walk to Solang
Village at Altitude 2750m
Acclimatization Trek to
Bakkartacch at 3350m Altitude
18 Km
16 (12th-18th June)Acclimatization Walk
at Rohtang Pass
at 3900m Altitude
Race DayRace DayRace DayRace DayRace DayRest in Leh70 Km

Important Notes:

Note 1: Long Taper is required for an ultra-marathon- Dr. Tim Noakes, MD, Lore of Running, 4th Edition, pages 653-654

Download – GHRF Training Plan – 14 Km

 

A Few Important Tips:

a. Strength Training:

  1. Strength work is as important as the running workouts since it will increase efficiency, correct muscular imbalances, and increase time to reach fatigue and prevent injuries. Increase in musculature, especially in the legs will act as cushioning for the joints, tissues and skeleton- just like wearing cushioned shoes. It is highly recommended to not skip any session of strength work.
  2. As a change you can do 10-20 minutes of stair work, but start slowly and build up to 20 minutes. An alternative here would be the step circuit session. Reduce to one session per week in peak week training.
  3. Do not combine weight training with long run days.

 b. Uphill and downhill training:

  1. Uphill- If you train in an area where there are no hills then it is necessary to do a part of your training on a treadmill with the incline set between 4-7%. Every 1% elevation in a kilometer will give you 10m elevation gain. Eg: 5% elevation in 1 km will provide 50m elevation gain.
  2. Downhill- If you train in an area where there are no hills then it is necessary to do a part of your training on downhills. This is necessary since downhill running does more damage to leg muscles by elongating them and then contracting them to absorb the impact and therefore it is necessary to run a part of your training on downhills. If you train in a flat area then find a park or flyover to practice downhill running. If you own a treadmill then place bricks at the rear bottom of the treadmill to create a downhill by tilting the treadmill. Note that downhill running causes a lot of leg soreness and therefore if you do not train for downhill running then after every day of the stage race the DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) will keep increasing and hamper your ability to start and finish the next stage in the race.

c. Fluid intake during exercise

  1. Take about 250ml of fluid for every 30 minutes of training.
  2. Ideally this should have about 20-25grms of carbohydrate, and some electrolytes to help absorption.
  3. The normal use of carbohydrates should be based around low GI (glycemic index), with high GI limited to immediately after training or high intensity training.
  4. On the run use low GI chews or the tablets that are easy to carry and remember the primary importance is the need to keep blood sugar level up.
  5. The use of a protein carbohydrate recovery drink immediately after more intense efforts, or on longer runs will provide the needed balance of nutrients to speed recovery.
  6. Many diabetics are able to use low GI sports drink but this should be done under the advice of the doctor.
  7. It’s important to remember that all forms of concentrated energy, (chews, tablets, gels etc) are a compromise made in order to allow the runner to carry supplies with them. This means they will always need to be taken with fluid and the same guideline is a good start (250-300ml per 30 mins)
  8. Looking more specifically at hydration, particularly where there are hot summer conditions and/or high humidity, there is a need to have some basic guidelines. Using the 250 to 300ml of water per 30 minutes is a good starting point you can adjust for conditions and your desire to drink. Experiment in training to determine your individual needs. In hot and humid areas runners generally find it better to drink smaller amounts more frequently.
  9. It is important to ensure drink contains a good level of sodium to assist fluid absorption, but drinking more has more dangers than finishing slightly dehydrated.

 

Happy training! See you in Manali.

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