Thursday, February 4, 2010

Training Thoughts - 100 mile run

As many of us have moved beyond the marathon for more challenges, we have all used many different types of training programs. However, there are some key ingredients to the training program that are consistent among runners. I have used many different programs for different goals in preparation for 100 mile runs and the ultra-triathlon running discipline.

Many runners look at the key weekend workouts (for those of us that are not retired yet) to include a combination of long runs (30+miles) followed by either another long run or a shorter time duration run with added speed. The key with either workout scenario is to learn to run with tired legs and more importantly with the challenges of keeping your mental state focused to push onward. Personally, I have found that more mileage with back to back workouts and training on similar terrain as the race has provided the necessary components to be ready race day. Learn to walk fast during the steep and long uphill’s and practice running downhill to feel the “quad” pain that you might experience if there are long downhill’s. Again, consistent training is so important but as we all know so many things can go differently than expected once the gun fires. Another alternative to save the legs on the second day of the long weekend of workouts by incorporating a long bike ride at a tempo pace the day following the longer run. An example could include a 30-40 mile run on Sat., followed by an easy 1 hour spin later in the day. Sunday would include a 10-15 miler harder paced run followed by a 5-6 hour bike ride.

The importance of experiencing running through the “lows” and rallying the body/mind back to a happy place for many athletes is the key to the training. It’s a substantial benefit to experience running/walking through a rough patch or bonk during a training run so that mentally you know how to handle it during race day. Everyone who has run a tough 100 mile race knows that there will be plenty of up’s and down’s and the key is to get through the down’s as quickly as possible. In many cases it becomes a mental challenge to move the legs forward.

In addition to the key long runs, I have always found that my best performances occur when I target several key weekly runs of 1.5-2 hours in length with the goal of a negative split. The key is to start at a reasonable pace, for the first half but make sure it’s not too slow and the negative split becomes to easy to complete. Challenge yourself with the first half so you have to work mentally and physically to get the second half at a faster split. It’s amazing to me how many runners go out so hard in every race distance and completely fall apart toward the end. This is so common within the last 10-15 miles of a 100 miler race. Yes, I have been there and have crumbled in races at the end many times! However, finishing at a steady pace later in the race will provide positive results as many people struggle and lose enormous amounts of times by walking while tired in the later stages of the race. Remember running lots of slow miles means you will most likely run slow on race day. Don’t understatement the benefits of adding speed work, hill repeats into your weekly training.

10 Key reminders:

1. Don’t waste time chit-chatting too long in the aid stations – get in and get out
2. Try not to sit in the chair – as someone quoted: “Be Aware of the Chair” don’t we all know that!
3. Fix the hot spots before the blisters start
4. Quick fix for the feet, carry some duct tape – it works
5. Bag Balm prevents chafing, blisters (yes it is greasy and a pain, but it works)
6. Don’t ever drop out of the race because of blisters – tape them up the pain will go away when you finish
7. Remember the stomach will calm down eventually after getting sick – start eating slowly at first, try the soup if available.
8. Make sure you practice running a night (for those of us who don’t finish in first place!)
9. Be sure to plan out your race not only on paper, but in your head (much more important)!
10. Have fun and make some lifetime memories.

Enjoy your 100’s!