michael harr, mba
bourbon chase training plans
the bourbon chase is unique with three legs and very little rest - specificity training is key to running well
The Bourbon Chase continues to rank as the most difficult and painful run I've experienced in my short running career. Much of this is thanks to a grueling format and a lack of specificity training (I was training for a half when I had the opportunity to sub for this race at the last minute).

The race covers 200 miles through the heart of Kentucky's Bourbon Country and is divided into 36 legs. Each runner is assigned three legs and the team must finish at a pace of 10:30 min/mi or receive a DNF. The training plans below are designed to help you avoid the miserable experience I had on leg 36 in 2014 where seemingly every muscle below my waist was cramping - requiring numerous stops, massages, stretches, and plenty of agony.

Also, if you check the official training plans, they seem to be geared toward long-time, serious runners. That said, these training plans are more flexible - especially for those not planning to run five days each week.

download the bourbon chase training plan spreadsheet

To download The Bourbon Chase Training Plan Spreadsheet, click the button below. From there, follow the instructions in the next section to create your customized training plan.

customize your bourbon chase training plan

To customize your training plan, you need only follow these three steps:
  1. Runner Type - There are three options in the spreadsheet that include - new runner, experienced, and competitive. Pick the sheet that best describes your runner type by choosing the worksheet name near the bottom of your screen.
  2. Distance - Under the questions section, enter the total distance of the legs for which you are responsible. To view the legs and distances, go to The Bourbon Chase's website by clicking here.
  3. Training Days per Week - The last step is to enter the number of training days you have each week. It is difficult for me to imagine anyone running this race on less than 3 days per week, and it is important to bake a couple rest (active or not) days into your schedule. Choose 3, 4, or 5 for the number of training days/week you can commit to regularly.
Once you've completed these steps, your training plan is ready to go. You can print it as a hard copy, save it as a .pdf, or keep it on a spreadsheet. Do what works for you.

about your training plan

These training plans are designed to help you be fully prepared for The Bourbon Chase based on your running experience and the legs for which you will be responsible. In formulating these plans, careful attention was paid to avoid increasing mileage by more than 10% each week, allow at least two rest days, and include three simulated races during training weeks 5, 9, and 13. To finish out the training plan, a couple weeks are allotted to taper down and restore your body to peak running condition.

don't miss sandwich runs

In training for a half or full marathon, long runs are the most important element. With this training plan, sandwich runs are the most important. A sandwich run involves running back-to-back days with the first running being twice the distance of the second. This practice is designed to acclimate you and your body to running while fatigued with little rest between runs. During training weeks 5, 9, and 13, you'll have the opportunity to simulate what The Bourbon Chase feels like by running Saturday morning, Saturday evening, and Sunday morning. Try not to miss these runs, as they are invaluable.

observe the 70% rule

While you go through this training cycle, be sure to observe the 70% rule that states fully 70% of your runs should be at an easy, conversational pace. Breaking this rule can often lead to injury and a slower race time. Ideally, the 30% of hard runs you do should be spaced out with plenty of rest in between. You may choose a mid-week run to do speed work or intervals, but try to keep your weekend runs at an easy pace.

getting your mileage in

Training will largely take place over the summer months when it's hot, humid, and generally more difficult to run. While cooler temps will prevail by the time race day arrives, it's critical to get your mileage in so you don't fall too far behind in your training. Don't be afraid to mix in a walk or run/walk when you're not feeling up to a full on run. It's perfectly okay to walk a bit. It's a bucket of suck to couch it instead.

questions, comments

If you have any questions or comments, please email them to me below.