When, How, and When? Ultra-trail Australia 2020 General Preparation Phase

Suffix at Prefix in case you miss it
Your biggest risk to injury is doing too much, too soon.
Be consistent, but
most of all be patient.

There’s no denying the popularity of Ultra-trail Australia and as an event that sells as soon as it goes on sale, upon gaining entry, many athletes will immediately turn their attention to training for the iconic event.

SQUADRUN will be supporting many athletes at next years race and while their programmes will be full of fussy detail, execution tips, fueling info etc, we wanted to share our thoughts on the UTA ‘preseason’.

In conjunction with our ‘RunStrong’ multi-stage strength programme for Ultra-trail Australia we’ll be sharing the essential training considerations for your journey to UTA2020.  Welcome to the first edition.

In this phase we will be covering the early training aspects for Spring and early Summer.  We call this the ‘General Preparation Phase’

As the name suggests, the training at this time is focused on developing the basic running foundation upon which we will later build.


When it comes to increasing your fitness, there really is no time like the present.  Significant, measurable improvements in aerobic capacity are made over years, not months.  Athletes with 18-24 months of consistent training will show an increased VO2max, running economy (energy expenditure), and in general their bodies are adapted to the delivery of oxygen laden blood and the clearing of blood lactate.  The easy observation is that all the ‘good’ runners have been doing it for years.  To this end, we cannot stress enough the importance of STARTING YOUR UTA TRAINING NOW.

Think of your fitness like a Bank Account.
The Bank Account accumulates interest.
Deposits made in the Bank Account early will accumulate more interest than those closer to the date of withdrawal.
Start building your bank account NOW.
Strength training will increase your interest rate while providing some insurance against your balance being wiped by hackers (or injury…)

Keep It Super Simple
General preparation phase can be just easy aerobic conditioning.  The necessity to simulate a race-like environment is lowest at this point so not every run need be full of stairs and vert.  This can be easy trail time or even –heaven forbid– a road run.
Just get the body ticking over.
Increase specificity over time.


Development is a series of stress and adaptation.
Simplified this is run and recovery.

The optimal path for improvement will come from frequent bouts of stress allowing for adequate recovery between.  Too large a stress and the recovery becomes too long.  To this end we recommend athletes improve their training frequency before they improve their overall training volume assuming they are allowing appropriate recovery between runs.

If you’re not training frequently, running three hours or more on Sunday is likely to impede your ability to train properly throughout the early part of the week.  You’ll certainly miss Monday and chances are your Tuesday wont be great either.

Far better to build the base wide first, then construct the walls upwards later.

Every little thing counts!
A run doesn’t have to be an hour to be part of your training to Ultra-trail Australia.  If all you can fit into your day is a 2km ‘hoodrun’ after dinner then so be it.  Making this deposit in the bank account is better than none at all.  If all you can manage is a handful smaller deposits through the week then so be it.

Your heart doesn’t know you’re sitting down!
If you’re not a one-dimensional run-obsessed athlete and like a mix of exercise, or simply have other sports and activities in your week, recognise that these count as well.  The ride to work is part of your aerobic conditioning and as your heart works it trains to.
Swim, spin, hike, or gym, your pathway to UTA is ‘every little thing’.


Ultra-trail Australia is unlike a lot of endurance running events in that Strength becomes a MAJOR consideration.

This ain’t no marathon!
In some training programmes simply running is all that is required with little or no emphasis put on supplementary strength training.  The unique aspects of stairs –oh so many stairs– means athletes are frequently interrupting their running gait to add or remove elevation as the course traverses the escarpment.  Strong athletes, even those with relatively limited aerobic capacity, will excel at UTA.

What Strength and when
We like to start with basic ‘strength endurance’ in the general preparation phase which means high repetition, low weight. Body resistance exercises are great and simply getting yourself used to a little routine is all that is required at this stage.
It’s complicated but it needn’t be.  Even basic ‘at home’ exercises like lunges, squats, hamstring bridge, wall sits and calf raises will make a difference.

There’s a lot more to it than that and in addition to the integrated mobility, maintenance and proprioception exercises in our training programmes, we’ll also be running a FREE strength and conditioning programme for all our athletes training to Ultra-trail Australia courtesy of Cambell Craig, Exercise Physiologist and founder of RunStrong.

That’s about it for our into to Ultra-trail Australia – General Preparation Phase. Keep an eye out for more from us by following along on Facebook or getting in touch.
See you on the trails!

SQUADRUN is the affiliated training partner for Ultra-trail Australia, Tarawera Ultra and all your favourite marathon, trail and  ultra distance events in Australasia.  Find out how we can help with your training to UTA here. Get a discounted training trial here or join us at the official UTA training camps