Elevation inclusion - Ultra Plans | 80/20 Endurance

Elevation inclusion – Ultra Plans

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  • #10971


    First of, love the plans and implementation in to training peaks.

    Anyway, here’s the question;

    “How to I best incorporate elevation in to my training plans”.

    I know that the long runs have been changed to time rather than distance to sort of deal with this but I’m finding it difficult to put a number on what I should be doing.

    I live in the Lake District in Cumbria, UK. Nearly all my running is fell, mountain and trail. For example, my last long run was 18 mile and 6500ft of elevation. A lot of my long runs will incorporate elevation because I like to fell run.

    Is there some sort of calculation or at least guidance to what sort of footage I should try to complete week by week (in correlation to say… my chosen event elevation profile??)




    In another post I was comparing pace vs HR vs Power vs GAP.
    From what I could see, you could do either power or GAP. Some watches (ELEMNT Rival for example) allow to display live GAP. I think that could be a great option. I personally start to really enjoy running by power as it really helps on hills and also when super windy.


    David Warden


    This is a great question. Certainly, your training must shift to the specific demands of your event. If your event is likely going to be hot, then you need to train in heat. If your event is going to have a specific terrain and ascent, you need to train on those conditions.

    But, I’ve never used a specific formula for an Ultra athlete. We’ve always just made sure that their training had “sufficient” elevation. But, there probably is a way to quantify this better. For example, if your total ascent for your event is 10,000 feet over 100 kilometers, that’s a 3% “average” grade. So, I suppose I’d take that grade and mimic it in my runs. Not every run, but most runs and for sure the long runs. 3,300 feet ascent over 20 miles is also about 3%, so I’d target 3,000 feet in a 20-mile run to prepare for a 100K event with 10,000 feet.

    I just made this idea up right now, so it may be a terrible idea, but I think it’s worth trying. See https://www.inchcalculator.com/elevation-grade-calculator/ for an easy way to calculate grade for a given distance.



    Thanks for the replies.

    Power is a nice idea but i like HR purely because I’ve used it for so long (literally all my adult life). I can pretty much run/ bike to RPE and glance at the watch.

    So, basically, a good way to track elevation goals and increase incrementally would be to always run foundation/ long/ endurance runs at similar profiles to the A race I have planned. But then on speed sessions/ intervals etc I could just stick to flat stuff to really dial down those sessions?

    Should I view elevation like weekly mileage? Gradually increase in correlation to weekly miles, rather than have certain weeks where I try to get loads in?



    Sorry I meant “Run/ Hike” not bike.

    David Warden


    Ideally, yes, I would recommend that all speedwork be done in an environment that you can control (flat course) and the more specific preparation done in an environment that mimics your actual event (long runs).

    Regarding weekly elevation targets, this is an advanced question, and I feel like I should know the answer. The concept of tracking elevation like mileage/time really fascinates me. My advise to Ultra athletes has always been fairly high-level: get about 50% of your time in the terrain you’ll be racing. Now I’m wondering if maybe I should have given elevation targets.

    I don’t know if it needs to be that specific. Ask me again in a year. I’d say there is no harm in trying to match the elevation profile of specific runs, but I’m not yet sold on elevation targets for a period, like a week.



    Thanks for the reply.

    I think that’s what I’ll continue to do. The longer runs will mimic my event, foundation runs will be near a % elevation (proportionate to event) and all speed/ structured sessions run on flat.

    Thanks for your insight.


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