UTMB Training Analysis

This will be similar to my Western States Analysis, but this time I am not just looking at totals for the week, but getting down to the nitty-gritty of every single run logged on strava.

I looked at runs logged from 6/15 to 8/25 (so a little over the last 10 weeks leading up the race) for the athletes Andy Symonds, Tim Tollefson, Thomas Lorblanchet, and Julien Chorier.

In these long races especially, individual pacing as well as “stuff gone wrong” plays such a big role, that it is not quite so easy to gauge race-day fitness by finishing time, since those who were better prepared could finish later if they miscalculated and went out a bit too hard (or slow), or something went terribly wrong during the race (injury, stomach problems, etc.). And that really came true here. Two of the people I followed ended up dropping (Andy and Tom), and Julien went out harder then slowed, whereas Tim went out slow and then crushed it at the end. So, it ended up being pretty hard to compare anyone, since they all played out vastly different scenarios on race day.

I also know that this analysis doesn’t come close to proving anything, because of so many different factors that go into training, but I still think it’s worth a look, especially when looking at how Tim’s training (3rd place finisher) set him up for success.


Tim Tollefson's Training

Things I notice about Tim's training:

  • Long run about once a week on the weekend

  • Often a faster and flatter run mid-week

  • Sometimes a long run with a lot of gain, plus a fast flat run in the same weekend.

  • Usually tries to take a day or two of flatter running in between days of higher elevation gain.

  • All of his hardest efforts (categorized "vFAST", "vGAIN", and "vLONG" below) have a significant amount of space between runs of the same type, usually about a week. And they usually have at least 2 days of easier running in between hard efforts of different types, except for the few cases where a flat fast run is in close proximity to a long run with a lot of gain.

  • Even his "easy" runs were over an hour long, usually approaching 1.5 hours. 
  • He also went 63 days without taking a day off, and for 56 days his shortest run was 8 miles long.



Categorized where "v" before a word means "very", as in "vFAST"="Very Fast" and "vGAIN"="a whole lot of gain"

Click to expand full list of runs


Comparing All Four Athletes

And when you compare Tim's training to the other athletes, you can really notice how his training sticks out from all the others as being more consistent (not with huge ups and downs). So as with the  Western States Analysis, a more consistent training strategy seems like not a bad idea when preparing for 100 milers

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So, you can see Tim has the highest mileage and speed, and Andy has the most elevation.

Looking at the following charts gives you some idea of the overall differences of their training the 10 weeks before the race. Some favor smaller, more frequent efforts, while others do less-often but much larger efforts.