7 trail marathons in 7 days - training plan needed!

Hi all,

I've spent a few hours trawling the net looking for something suitable, but I suspect you guys might be able to point me in the right direction. In May 2013 I'm going to be running from north to south Wales in 7 days, effectively running 25+ offroad miles a day along the hilly route of Offa's Dyke. 

Anyway, myself and my co-conspirators need a training plan. We've all done marathons and triathlons before, but this is obviously a step or three up the endurance ladder. 

Any advice on training plans, or where we might be able to get something relevant, will be gratefully received.



  • Hi Neil. 

    Sounds an amazing challenge. I haven't done anything similar so unfortunately can't offer you a training plan. Last year my wife and I walked from Lands End to John o'Groats and came across a guy who was doing this running. I don't know what training he did for this, but if you are on twitter, you should look him up - @baretorun

    He's bound to have some experience running so much in consecutive days (he did it bare foot as well, but I'm sure you could adapt whatever he says to suit you).

    Good luck!

  • Hey Ady!

    I am a Tweeter, so I'll definitely look him up. Thanks for the tip. And I've just transitioned to a mid/forefoot strike, too, as well as started running in minimalist trainers, so I'm sure there'll be lots of useful stuff in there.


  • Neil

    I haven't done 7 in 7 but have done 4 in 4, essentially you can't train for it. Its marathon training with back to back long runs, but given that you can't do 7 back to back long training runs (unless you don't work!) its more about learning to manage the stiffness at the end of  each day. I swam at the end of each day and stretched in the pool, ice baths were also good. The truth is your going to hurt each morning but the plus is that after a hour or so it makes no odds and you will shuffle on. VO2 max have some training plans for 3 in 3 on their website for the Atlantic Coastal Challenge. 


    Good Luck

  • Thanks Dave.

    Met up with someone yesterday with a bit of experience in this area, who basically said you have to train your body for consecutive-day running. We're all normally focused on training for running a single event on a single day, but for this you need to train your body to be used to getting up and performing day after day. Sounds like this rings true for you!?


    Thanks for the V02 Max tip. Is this the site? http://www.votwo.co.uk/events-1/atlantic-coast-challenge-2011 Couldn't see any plans on there (other than the main training plans, all of which for one-offs).

  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭

    Couple of years ago my brother and I 'did' the Pennine Way : 268 miles in 10 days so effectively a marathon a day. To be honest we walked most of it, but still entailed 10-12 hrs a day (longest day was 33 miles). As has been said the trick is recovery and not going off too fast. I still maintain that if we had run at something like 4-5 min miles , we would have been in better shape: only 6 hrs a day efforts means longer to recover. Funnily enough we were talking about trying Offas Dyke in the next year or so.
    Training wise - I followed my usual marathon plan for about 4 months, but extended the weekend runs (saturday 10-12 miles instead of 8, Sunday minimum of 20miles) plus adding in just smaller stuff when permissable. i.e I'd run to/from stations for work, added no more than 2-3 miles a day but it meant that the legs were getting notice of what they had coming. It used to be a short run in the morning, a usual session either lunchtime or evening, plus the further run home to the station after work.
    I think I averaged 50-60 miles a week for 3 months.
    A lot of it is mental, but I think that you have to be sensible: if you're feeling overtired, slow right up. 25 miles - a whole days schedule - on tired legs (at a walk) is 10hrs. Hard work but achievable. The real problem would be injury, so make sure you have decent footwear. If you have support, then change shoes every day by alternating between 2 pairs and it goes without saying to make sure that they have been worn in!
    You should be OK with the weather in May (we did the PW in April: cpl of bad days but otherwise fine) and I assume your going 'up' which means that the prevailing winds will be with you

    Good luck !

  • Neil Yep thats the right website, though it appears that the 3 in 3 training plans have been removed. You've got the idea get used to running really tired! and recovery is king.

  • I did the Atlantic Coast Challenge a couple of years ago. My training was pretty much as normal but I did make a point of doing long and very slow run-walk sessions on consecutive days, sometimes in the afternoon and then following morning, to get the hang of going out on tired legs.

    As others say, it's about going carefully and pacing, recovery, nutrition and hydration.

    I finished in one piece. But one thing I did have and which I hadn't expected was swelling of the feet and lower legs afterwards. Took a week or so to go away completely. For a couple of days I had ankles like one of those little old ladies you see waddling down the street with a walking frame on wheels.

  • I walked Offa's Dyke in July '12 and if the weather is anything like the same, you are going to need shoes that can cope with cattle-trodden churned up muddy fields, very wet flood plains, muddy conditions. That could be anywhere which you could identify from maps of farmland and rivers but I remember it particularly in the southern sections. Also you would either need several different pairs or some means of washing and drying trainers. I alternated two pairs and used a boot-dryer (with tubes that stick in the shoes and blow warm air in).

    I second the back-to-back long runs and you could adapt an ultra plan eg for 50 km or 50 miles. I used one earlier in the year where the second b2b cut back on the first, e.g., 18/10 miles b2b in week one. (The plan is on dropbox if you are interested.)

  • Thanks all. This is all really useful!

    Last week I met up with someone who's run Offa's Dyke already, and she echoed the sentiments about mud!

    And yes, I'm trying to train to prevent injury. It's all offroad, so the likelihood of turning an ankle etc is increased.

    Thanks also for the training plan, Steve!

  • I would practise run/ wlaking off road with back to backs every weekend..............People do walk it in that time so yiou canntake as long as you want each day.......or get to the next point early and get drunk

    I didn't notice if you were carrying your stuff with you or if you were having a car back up..........If carrying your stuff get used to running with a heavy load and make sure its comfortable...........

    if you have a car backup then much easier on the back 

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