Training

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The Kilimanjaro Stage Run is an extremely challenging multi-day endurance running event.  It requires extensive physical and mental preparation.  Those who have done the training and planning will be positioned to reap the rewards from the experience.

Terrain is rugged and the trails are difficult.  We expect all KSR participants to be experienced ultra distance runners with endurance races and long trail runs in their history. They should be familiar with the physical and mental training required for running long distances, as well as an understanding of their own body’s hydration and nutrition needs during an endurance event.

The advice and recommendations below are specific to the Kilimanjaro Stage Run.
they should be used to supplement your own accumulated knowledge.

 

The Kilimanjaro Stage Run is 260 kilometers of running (and walking) over 8 days. You will be running/walking upwards of 30km every day for several days, all at elevations between 1400 and 2100 meters.  While speed is not important, pacing and recovery are. Except for about 8km on paved road, the KSR route is exclusively on dirt trails and roads. There are no flat sections. Inclines range from gentle to extremely steep climbs and descents, with sections of rugged, narrow, slippery, rocky, or non-existent trails. The more that you can mimic these conditions in your training, the better prepared you will be. Train on trails whenever possible — the more hilly and rougher, the better. Prepare for sections that require walking. All runners do a significant amount of walking due to fatigue or steep/narrow trails. Furthermore, as you may encounter a range of weather conditions on the run – from cool to hot, bone dry to damp and wet – train also in all types of weather.

It is not necessary to run excessive weekly mileage in order to complete and enjoy the KSR. Still, regular long runs (several hours) are important to establish a solid base of running over several months. Long distance running training will strengthen your legs and help you learn the hydration, energy (food) intake, and electrolyte replacement strategies that work best for you, in order to sustain you for each day’s run and help you recover and be strong for the next day. In training, you should learn to stress your body, then replenish fluids and nutrients to aid recovery. You will not be able to replicate during training the 8 successive days of long running, but you should develop the ability to stress, rest, and recover. You want to run at a pace that does not over-tax your body so that it breaks down or is too sore or too stiff to undertake another long run the following day.

Do your training runs with the gear and the drinking/eating routine you will use during the KSR.

 

Training schedule example
If you have an established training program that works for you, you should maintain this, but may want to adjust it in order to prepare your body for the successive days of 30+ kilometers.  Consider the following schedule during the peak of your preparation.
Mon:  rest day, or 30 – 45 minutes easy
Tue:  60 – 90 minutes
Wed:  60 – 90 minutes
Thu:  30 – 45 minutes easy
Fri:  60 – 90 minutes
Sat:  4 – 6 hours
Sun:  3 – 4 hours

For those needing weekly distance goals, consider the following.
Reach 80km/week by 8 weeks prior to KSR.
Reach 120km/week, 4-6 weeks prior to KSR.
Taper to 40-50km/week, 2 weeks prior to KSR.
You can substitute cycling in the proportion of 25km cycling = 10km running

Article on Stage Running vs. Ultras
The following article from UltraRunning Magazine, The Differences Between Ultras and Stage Races, includes useful advice from top-level coaches and runners.
Running in a New Cultural Environment
You have probably developed a routine to mentally prepare yourself for races and long runs. You will need to draw on that for several days so that you can stay relaxed, pace yourself, and enjoy the experience of the KSR.

In addition to being a running event, the KSR is an immersive cultural experience on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, where you will pass through the farms and villages of the Chagga, Maasai, and other people who live around the mountain. For some, this may be your first experience in a remote rural setting in a developing country. For those who have done international travel, particularly in Africa, you have some experience upon which to draw. For everyone, what you encounter will undoubtedly be new and exciting.

Every day while running, as well as at the camps, you will encounter sights, sounds, smells, languages, and people that will be new and foreign. These stimulate your senses, may be stressful and challenging to understand, and may be emotionally and physically draining. Acknowledge that you may at times experience culture shock, and develop ways to work with it. Simon and the other guides will be there as translators, cultural interpreters, and intermediaries.

We encourage you to draw on your own mental resources, gathering energy from the new landscapes and cultural encounters, and use that to help power you through the run.