Ultra marathon and sealfit

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    Richard Vernetti

    I have been doing SealFit for a year now and normally do baseline, strength, and WC 3-4 days a week with some longer runs on weekends (6-8 miles). I plan to do my first ultra (36.6 miles) in December. I had planned to continue SF and incorporate a marathon type progression for the weekend runs. Is SealFit the right programming for an ultra? If not, what would you suggest? Do I need to run more during the week? Anything advice is appreciated.


    SEALFIT will help you with completing those dark periods where you mind tries to trick you into thinking you can’t go on.

    But you will need to train specifically for the event.

    Good Luck!

    Richard Vernetti

    Coach Will is spot on with regards to the mental toughness preparation that SEALFIT programming affords for ultra runners. When it’s the middle of a cold night and you’re alone on a mountain with 20 hours in your legs and another dozen hours of running to go — and you’re starting to hallucinate that the image your headlamp is creating is a pirate ship and you just need a quick nap to continue onward, you need a special set of skills and experience to rely on. That’s exactly what we are honing each time we give the best of ourselves to a SEALFIT WOD. Also, there are major benefits of the durability, stamina and strength components toward ultra marathon performance. Whether you’re running 8 hours or 40, you need a strong and durable body to be able to perform late in the race. That’s what gets you up and down mountains and enables you to carry on and succeed when other people’s weak cores, unconditioned-to-climbing legs and uncertain will to finish lead them to DNFs. The Work Capacity HIIT sessions in a SEALFIT WOD get more done in less time than churning through unfocused miles of mid-week runs and the overall programming approach of SEALFIT better fits a ultra runner’s needs than CrossFit + interval runs. That said, you need to ensure run-specific durability (your feet and connecting tissues need to be prepared to handle hours of hammering), you need an efficient running technique (I train my ultra runners in the Pose Method) and you need to learn and test the hydration and nutrition demands for your body under race conditions (heat, cold, hills, flats, after x hours, night/day, etc.). You also need to get out and run when the conditions suck … rain, dark, snow, heat, etc. Run in the worst of whatever is possible on race day. The programs I design for ultra runners who train SEALFIT look like Op WODs 3x a week (often split into 2 sessions in a day) with WC sessions tweaked if needed to bias running. I get as much out of HIIT running sessions (intervals, hill repeats, etc.) as possible (adding them in on non-SF days) and then build up a series of long runs, later mixing the long runs with speed hikes and overload hiking/running weekends (especially for runners doing distances over 50 miles). On key overload/long run weekends, I make sure that SF WODs that lead into and exit from the weekend are complementary and that taper/recovery is well-planned and honored. I rarely have ultra runners doing more than 5 runs a week, and for most weeks it’s just 4 runs. Yoga also holds a very important place in an ultra marathon training program — again, for it’s durability, recovery and mental toughness benefits.

    My input is from both the perspective of a SEALFIT Coach and an ultra marathoner. I’ve trained SEALFIT plus a long run progression for up to 50 milers in the Swiss Alps. I’ve actually done a mountainous 40-miler on SEALFIT + extra HIIT training + a max long run (tempo style) of 80 minutes … but I wouldn’t advise such a short long run for someone who doesn’t have a strong base of ultra running experience. Prior to training SEALFIT I also completed UTMB (37 hours) and Marathon des Sables (a weeklong stage race) with a traditional ultra runners program of: run a lot. There were many 15-20 hour running weeks during those race prep phases and I had none of the GPP that I later developed when running MUCH LESS and doing much more SEALFIT training. I’m much happier with the formula I use now for me and the athletes I coach.

    Good luck with your race in December — hooyah!

    Coach Grant

    Richard Vernetti

    I’ve always been interested in combining endurance work with strength and WC, I don’t have near the experience as Jeff or most people on here, so I’m still in a learning phase.

    I came across CFE and trialed that for a half marathon (I had previously done a half on LSD training and another on just crossfit programming). I found CFE was the most successful. However I don’t think I could do a marathon/longer event on CFE purely as the longest run (generally) is a half marathon.

    Other issues I had with CFE was the lack of strength work. 3 Westside workouts a week not doing it as its prescribed, my understanding of the West-side method is DE, DE, ME, ME ect of lower body and upper body plus accessory work that compliment this. And this didn’t compliment my goals as well.

    However it is a valuable starting point for me and its a great program for any event less than 2 hours (in my experience, a lot of people will say it can be used for longer events.)

    I’ve been recently look at running training from an energy system perspective. Anerobic vs Aerobic and researching the effects of training in each (by heart rate). CFE doesn’t really engage in the Aerobic system as it is high intensity, however the effects of training in the aerobic system cannot be dismissed. While there are draw backs (increased chance injury, increased time), proper programming, efficient technique and recovery protocols can over come this.

    Most athletes I’ve come across who use CFE (successfully) have come from a LSD background, so that ‘base’ has been built up over a few years, something CFE doesn’t do (as there’s no cycles). Is the need for a cycle (as in Lydiard’s method) necessary?

    I’m no expert, but I’m really interested in this combination of strength, functional fitness and endurance (longer than 90 minutes). It would be great to have a discussion about programming for this for ultra endurance events.

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