Read our COVID-19 policy here

XNRG 2022 events now open for booking!

Mountain ultra training

Prepare for all the ups and downs of mountain racing. Here's XNRG's head coach Andy Mouncey on how to make your training sessions effective and progressive...

Downhill Sessions: Least To Most Stressful


  1. Run down smooth-controlled road plus poles
  2. Run down smooth-controlled road no poles
  3. Run down smooth-controlled trail
  4. Run down smooth-controlled trail plus loaded pack.


  1. Run down over-stride trail
  2. Run down over-stride trail plus load
  3. Run down road over-stride
  4. Run down road over-stride plus load.

Uphill Sessions: Least To Most Stressful

  1. Hike up steady, boots plus poles
  2. Run up smooth-controlled-easy
  3. Power hike up, boots, poles, load
  4. Power hike up, trainers, no poles, load.

Other Variables

Fine-tune the sessions above to suit you and your goals by adjusting these variables:

  • Load: Heavy to light weighted pack
  • Gradient: Steep to shallow
  • Speed: Greater than race pace to slower than…
  • Support: Boots with poles to hands-free and trainers
  • Duration: Long to short.

This is not a definitive list – you will think of others, and you will find some of these harder/easier and that’s just a function of your relative strengths. Just remember that if you really want to wreck your legs and lower back you are more likely to do so by starting with a workout like this:

Downhill-Heavy Load-Steep-Road-Fast-Without Support-Long-Over Stride 

So, be smart, heed any overload signs and build up to the outrageous stuff.

Here’s how that build up might look as number of sessions per week

Sample Six Week Progression

  Wk 1 Wk 2 Wk 3 Wk 4 Wk 5 Wk 6
UP 3 2 3 2 1 1
0 1 2 3 3 4


3 2 1 1 1 0

So, Week 1 has six sessions in total: three uphill-themed workouts and three downhill skill-based workouts from the list above, and the workouts get more taxing as the weeks progress.

Health Warning

I would never give this six week program as it is to any of my runners. I would use it as a framework and then adjust it according to the nature of the race we are preparing for and the relative strengths/weaknesses of my client – and you should do the same. The coaching team here at XNRG can help you take the guesswork out of that.

Email us

Mountain Ultra Training

We're proud to partner with...

Join the family

Subscribe to our mailing list and keep informed