Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How do you train for a 100 mile race?

Cliff's notes version: no one knows.

I signed up for April's 100 mile race about 3am Saturday night (registration opened at midnight). I didn't really know if it would fill up, but I had just gotten home from hanging out at a friend's house and was up anyway.

As soon as I woke up Sunday morning, once I got past that "what the hell have I DONE" feeling (kidding, that isn't going anywhere), I moved on to "how the hell do I train for this?".

I spent some time reading all the research on the internet about 100 milers. Actually, not that much time. There's not a whole lot on the internet on 100 milers. Shocking, right?

There was so little, I even had time to line up some awesome pacers. One of the many, many reasons I was hesitant to sign up for a 100 miler was that I didn't think I would know people who would want to come support me when I was dirty, tired, and whiny. In the middle of the night. I've underestimated just how crazy and devoted my running friends are.

From what I understand, the key to completing a 100 miler is to run a lot in training, stay hydrated, and pray.

Look a meme! I worked extra hard on this post!

According to one article, a study showed that people who were successful at the 100 distance only did 10% more mileage than for those training for a 50 miler. Now, this may not have been a peer reviewed study, and it conveniently eliminated key details like what exactly "training for a 50 miler" means. But I like what it says, so I'm going with it.

More seriously, the main idea seemed to be that the key is back to back long runs on the weekends, and focusing on those, rather than a ridiculous amount of miles during the week. This was a relief to me, because I'm really over those Wednesday pre-work 15 milers.

That part is just like 50 miler training. It's unrealistic for a normal person to try to train anywhere close to the race distance. Even if you have time for a 70 miler on Saturday, you don't have time to then spend 3 weeks recovering from it. Instead, you use back to back long runs to simulate running on tired legs while avoiding completely annihilating your body in the process.

I created a training plan that has 2 weekends with 30/20 combinations (30 miles on Saturday, 20 on Sunday), and one weekend with a 52 mile run. The 52 mile run will also begin at 1am - another important part of 100 miler training is night running. Since the race continues overnight into the next day - you kind of have to practice having the sun go down while you're running so you learn to keep running and not just lay down on the side of the road and go to sleep. Or cry.

The plan isn't totally finished, but I'll share it in all its terrifying glory when I'm done. However, there's no hurry, because I won't start training until December 30. Which I'm weirdly excited about.

Since I'm looking at a whole lot of running coming up, what's your favorite thing to listen to while you run/exercise/drive/whatever?

I'm all over the place. My playlist jumps from Miley Cyrus to Broadway to Eminem to funny podcasts to audiobooks, and on a lot of runs I listen to nothing but my crazy thoughts. The only thing I'll never, ever listen to is country. Ew.


  1. You might find "Relentless Forward Progress" an interesting read, especially the training plan section. And the Umstead tips for newbies doc highly recommends working in an overnight run, learning to eat real food during a run, etc. Man I'm excited to hear all about your training. :D

  2. I'm oddly psyched to hear about your training too! I read your posts and think, "I can handle the Mt. Evans Ascent! I mean, she is running 100 miles!"

    Music. All music (and I especially love country). And audiobooks. And podcasts. On your next run, you should listen to my podcast debut a few weeks back. Please appreciate the first three minutes when I did not, in fact, know that I was on the air and sound like I have total stage fright because I am not speaking :)

  3. The preview of your training plan made my heart skip a beat - and no, I'm not kidding! I can't wait to see the whole thing! My training mixes are all over the place in regards to genres. I haven't got into audio books yet but based on yours and Running off the Reeses recommendations I am going to look into it. So, I'm no help!

  4. I can't wait to see the training plan, in all its terrifying, overwhelming glory. A 52mi run that starts at 1am?! That sounds completely insane. I can't wait to watch.

  5. One day of no drinking on the weekend I can do, but two? I would not be happy. You have much more self control then me. I would fall off that training wagon pretty damn quick.

  6. I'm sad and disappointed in the lack of focus on Prancerize.

  7. Are you writing this post just to prove how insane you are because it's working.

  8. Ultras are amazing, and running a 100 is indeed insane. Here is a great website training plan: I am training for my second 100 miler, which is the beginning of April. If you are ever looking for folks to run with, check out the NCR Trail - we run every Saturday and sometimes Sunday; many of the runners have run numerous ultras of all distances. It's a great group to run with. And it is free. :)

  9. You are one hard core runner. I'd say if the training you've done for your 50 milers has left you feeling prepared on race day, then applying that article to what's worked for you sounds like a good plan. Not that I know anything of ultras, though.

    My running music is all over the place, too, except mine includes country. During my marathon my music went from Spice Girls to Jerry Reed to Bon Jovi to Kanye. I just had my iPod on shuffle and I loved the anticipation between the end of one song and the start of the next, waiting to see what my next jam would be.

  10. Sounds like you have the right idea for your training. My friend who will be running Angeles Crest 100 in August has obviously not started training yet but I will ask him what resources he will be using when he puts together his training plan.

  11. Exciting stuff! [I know I'm miserably behind on blog commenting. Please forgive me. And I hope you get email alerts for new comments, or else you'll miss this one completely.]

    Have you read the book Relentless Forward Progress (Bryon Powell)? The book itself might be a smidge basic in some areas, but he does a really good job of outlining training plans for both 50 and 100 milers, depending on your weekly mileage expectations/goals. Although you're by no means a newbie to ultras, and it sounds like you have things well under control. :)


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