For whatever reason I've had a lot of people in the past few weeks ask me for tips about training for ultras. The problem is that I don't really have a set training plan that I follow from race to race. There certainly are general guidelines that I stick to but I almost never actually plan specific workouts more than a day or two ahead of time, and even that's pretty rare.
One general guideline that I do use that tends to be different from most people is that I never break my training down into one week cycles. A one week cycle makes sense from a schedule standpoint, since so many other things in our lives revolve around weekly cycles. From a training standpoint though a one week cycle doesn't really make sense to me. Often I just train on a linear path that never seems to cycle back around, but when I do break my training down into cycles I usually do either 10 or 12 day training segments. The problem with a one week cycle is that you don't have enough space in there to make fine adjustments. A lot of people seem to do weekly cycles in which they do one long day, one day off, 1 speed day, 1 hill day, and the other 3 days as active recovery days. The problem with this is that running a long run once every 7 days is too much, as is a rest day once in every 7 days. One speed day and one hill day is probably not enough but if you added in another day of either of these it would probably be too much. By using a 10 or 12 day cycle you can add or subtract a day of a certain type of workout and it isn't such a drastic increase or decrease. A typical 10 day cycle for me would consist of 1 long day (about 20-25% of my total mileage of that 10 day cycle), 2 hill days, 2 speed days, 2 cross training active recovery days (weights, bike, ski, etc.), and 3 active recovery running days (sometimes one of these days completely off if I'm feeling unusually tired or busy). With a longer cycle like this I can adjust things to more closely fit the work that I think I need at the time without feeling like I'm making a drastic change to what my body is used to. I know this isn't a huge difference from a one week cycle, but for me it's enough that I couldn't imagine ever again breaking my training into 7 day cycles.