My 2023 Ultramarathon Plan

The Fall running season was a jovial old time for my ultramarathon training – racking up the best times, paces and distances I’ve hit since my university cross country days – when I PB’d a 10k at 34:20 and a half-marathon at 1:16:30. Unfortunately the year likely won’t come to an end in the way I hoped, as I continue to stretch my way through plantar fasciitis; an injury that I had developed before my ultra training even began. As the winter months only get colder from here, my attentions now turn toward 2023, to develop my ultramarathon racing, training and life goals for the new year. With that, here is my intended plan for the new year.


It’s more than worth noting that I’m a proponent of intuitive training. I like to feel my way through a run and not necessarily have a set plan for anything other than my hard workouts. I might go out for a run thinking that I want to run 30k, and then feel amazing halfway through and decide for 34k instead. I might also feel the burn a bit more than usual, and ease off to a 22k run instead. In fact, these were the exact back-to-back long runs I did the weekend before taking time off for plantar fasciitis. This isn’t to say that I wasn’t ready for the arduous task of the distances I ran, but I evidently needed to pay more attention to my recovery process after that 34k, continuing into the week during my first snowy 5AM runs of the year.

Once I return from injury, I plan on starting with a week of low-mileage, incorporating walk-runs to ensure I’m fully ready to return. This will amount to about 50-75km, consistent with what I had been hitting prior to the start of my ultra training in late September. If feeling good I will then ramp up by 10% until January rolls around, and restart ultra training with back-to-back long runs (weather permitting!).

While ultra training will be the priority around this time and in the background of every step I take out on the trails, I will also be training specifically for a 30k in March – the classic Canadian race in the beautiful Hamilton Harbour – Around the Bay. When registering for the race, they prompt you on what pace you plan on running. I clicked the fastest option of sub-2:15:00, knowing that I can comfortably do an “easy” run at 2:22:00. If fully fit, I have my sights set on a sub-2:05:00 30k (4:10 pace). While I don’t like to trivialize my pursuits ahead of time, I think this is a reasonable goal that I can push toward come March, so long as I return to full fitness by January.

Getting there will then incorporate at least four 30k training runs at sub 2:15 pace. Late February and early March would be the ideal time to hit the bulk of these training runs during my weekends, ensuring I’m winding down before I start tapering.

Frequent tempo, hill, and interval workouts will also take place at sub 4:10 pace, allowing my body to get used to the pace I plan on running. The race takes place on March 26, 2023, for those interested in making the trek out to Hamilton!


After taking a few days off from Around the Bay, I’ll listen to my body and resume ultra training in early April. This is where I’ll again take a lighter week of running (or two) between 80-100k, and then ramp up to be hitting those longer miles on back-to-back long runs later in the month.

I want to run my first ever marathon alone toward the end of May, travelling on my favourite route from Cambridge to Paris, and back (or vice versa). Long runs will likely be around 30/30k, with speed workouts lighter than before to avoid injury (…keeping that 3:50-4:10 pace consistent and not trying to push the envelope when DJ Snake says “TURN DOWN FOR WHAT!”).

Since I plan on conducting my first ultra at the end of July 2023, I’ll also be working my way up to my first 50k training run. While I’m a heavy proponent of back-to-back runs, I ultimately feel like my body will be ready for the full-on 50k at this time (given that I felt ready for it before my injury). This will be a great chance to practice my fueling strategy. Should niggling injuries persist, I’ll be practicing fueling and longer hours of endurance on the cycle. But if all goes well, I’ll be hitting my workouts slower, and running the weekends longer than ever before.

Around this time, I have two options for shorter races if I want to put in a hard effort and prepare for what life on the trails will be like racing ultramarathons in 2024. The Sulphur Springs Trail Race in Burlington, ON takes place at the end of May and features a lighter 20k for those not quite ready for their long-haul 50k, 50-miler and 100k runs. The Limberlost Challenge in Huntsville, ON also always peaked my interest, and the 28k will take place in early July. These races will be for practice so I can feel my way through long efforts at a hard pace, and get used to the racing feel ahead of schedule.


Other than the possibility of completing Limberlost in early July, the next month will be all about listening to my body and mentally preparing for Tally in the Valley. I plan on doing first ultra race as their 6-hour long-haul in late July, getting accustomed to life in the valley before trying out the ‘Gong Show’ in the future. I’ll be consciously and continuously monitoring my stress levels and recovery processes despite at this time – knowing the likelihood of the stressors set to come in my busiest time of year at work. This will be imperative to avoiding injury, especially when recognizing the fact that I’ll likely be up even earlier than before to do my training runs, given my change in schedule set to come.

If all goes well, I’ll run about 60km during the 6-hour haul of Tally in the Valley. The goal will be to conduct at least two training runs at around the same distance and pace, and familiarize myself with the pain long before race day.

The first week or so of August may be a slow one, as I rest up and recover from my long-haul in Tally in the Valley. But between August and September, with no races to train for, I’ll be pushing for my first 80k training run, and my first 100k training walk-runs.

At the end of September, I’d like to boast the fastest known time from Cambridge to Hamilton – which should be about 80 kilometres along the Cambridge-Hamilton rail trail. I’ve seen signs that say the trail is actually 100.5 kilometres, so I’ll be testing out the sections of the trail throughout this time to get even more accustomed to life on my favourite trail across Ontario.

Toward the end of this period, my energies will turn to The Bad Thing 50k from Goderich to Auburn, set to take place in late October.


Recovering from my long-haul across the province (hopefully injury free), I’ll be training for The Bad Thing 50k, which will ideally incorporate a few training runs along the route itself. The course is set up to be quite a technical trail, and it’s not recommended for inexperienced trail artists. So the hope will be to familiarize myself with the course, and prepare to run a sub-5:00:00 50k, while pushing for the win. If I don’t claim my first ultra victory, The Beav takes place in Milton, ON a few weeks later and could be my shot at redemption. I don’t know how my body will react to back-to-back 50k races in the span of two weeks, so I’ll be actively preparing my mind and body for this reality if I ultimately register for both races.

After The Beav, it would be nice to wind down my training ahead of the new year, and ensure a full recovery for the process to start over again in 2024. The ultimate goal would be to switch up the ultramarathons for the following year, including Limberlost, Quebec, Whistler, Squamish, Sulphur Springs, and this time – the 24-hour ‘Gong Show’ at Tally in the Valley.

Rest and recovery will likely be essential to the process, ensuring I’m not sidelined like right now! But I’ll be hoping for a lighter November and December after the long year of running, hopefully, having accomplished all of my goals!

So with that, what’s your plan for the new year? Be sure to share your thoughts below and join our community!

P.S. if you’re in Ontario and want to go for a run or train for an FKT together, just send me a message.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Thanks for reading & see you soon!

Strava Profile | Rhys Desmond


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5 responses to “My 2023 Ultramarathon Plan”

  1. […] on a cautious approach to dedicated training, I find myself balancing the line between all of these crazy ambitions I have within my running career, and accomplishing those ambitions in the most cautious ways […]


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