100 Mile Week


Experience From - Scott Adams , Robert Youngren , George Parrott , Greg Loomis , Buzz Burrell , Dick Vincent , Jeff Riddle , George Beinhorn ,

Scott Adams

I have a question for the hard cores out there. I have heard about running 100+ miles a week to train for the big races. I was wondering those that put in this kind of mileage do it. How many miles do you run each day and how hard? Do you run the entirety of your long runs or do you run/walk them. I would also like to know how you avoid burn out at that mileage level. Do you do it every week or just occasionally. How do you build up to that mileage without blowing out every joint in your body? I am thinking of stepping up my training level and any input would be appreciated.

Robert Youngren

While I don't consider myself "hardcore" as Scott puts it I've found that with my ultrarunning I've done better on a lower mileage base 70-80 miles a week mostly at around 7:00 pace, tempo runs faster, long runs slower. And this is typically accomplished by splitting up my runs. I'll run over lunch a few miles and then again at night for more mileage. Then make up the balance over the weekend by doing my long run or two medium runs.

Keeping on this sort of schedule year round for the most part, just varying the overall pace (faster or slower) and varying the terrain on which I do this (flat to hilly courses) I've been able to keep up a decent base and has allowed me to combat burn out by allowing me to slow the overall pace down when I need to.

Therefore, coming from such a base, I'll start upping this mileage to around 100 miles or so when I start training for a 100 mile race (the real ultra stuff!). And when I do so it isn't as hard as it may seem. However, in my case, to accomplish the higher mileage I'll have to sacrifice, to a small degree, my overall pace. I.e. I'll try and avoid very quick running as much, but still try and keep my overall leg speed up via the occasional tempo run or local 5/10km. So to hit 100 miles or so a week I'll either incorporate a 3-run-a-day schedule or do more mileage in each of my two day runs and then make up the deficit during the weekend running my long runs close to 30 miles or so with possibly a shorter/slower recovery run the next day.

I don't like to put this much mileage in all the time because I, like most other ultra runners, have a life outside my running as well and this kind of schedule tires one out, and makes me more prone to over-use injuries and sicknesses that ail an overtaxed immune system! So I'll at most try to shoot for a solid 400 mile month or so ending 2 weeks before the "big race." I said I "shoot for" I don't always make it, but diligence usually pays off (I just remember past poor performances!).

As for walking? Very important in the long runs, after all you'll be doing a great deal of it in a 100 anyways so you might as well get good at it!

My relative youth probably makes it easier for me to accomplish this kind of schedule, I can't speak for others but this is how I do it.

oopps hope I didn't give away all my awesome training secrets?

George Parrott

Constant training at or above 100 mpw is very helpful for almost any (ultra) runner, if their bodies, lives, and social obligations can tolerate this volume.

Some people DO breakdown from training at this level, but others really prosper, and if they/you never try "volume" you may simply never know what would have been possible...

I ran all my best races off of years of steady 110 mpw training. I ran training weeks of cycles up to 10 weeks long at up to...180 mpw. I virtually never dropped below about 80 miles/week on RECOVERY weeks.

I was never a "great runner," but I got a lot out of my body and my limitations, and I believe much was BECAUSE I did "high mileage" constantly.

I regularly ran 10-14 marathons a year in my late 30's and almost ALL of those were under 3 hours. I ran several 50's on the roads under 7:00 hours and a 5:57 pr.

I am firmly convinced that most/many people will obtain major returns in performance at mileage volumes of 100-140 mpw. I am not as convinced at Ron Hill or another U.S. guru, Jim Bowles that you need in excess of 200 mpw. But....for some...maybe.

Others will peak at 60 mpw or even less perhaps...patterns of quality must still be present even in high volume schedules and low volume training with 100% quality or nearly so can also sustain some very impressive "racing." I would simply question..."for how long?"

Greg Loomis

Another good thread here.... Training. I was new to ultras last year but did really well off relatively low mileage 45-80 miles a week. I simply put in a 20-35 miler every week or two. The fat burning long runs where you walk for breaks, eat, and drink a lot are most important.

To be fast at these races the more miles the better. I hear Mark Godale runs 130 weeks. Ian T does doubles a lot and races frequently. BUT Jim Garcia had a great year and never ran over 80 miles in a week.. We are all individuals- play and find out what works.

Science and David Costill - show that up to 70mpw you get great gains in performance each mile you run. Anymore than 70 and the gains are real small & injury risk high.

On personal experience I know that when I put in a few stretches of 85-115 mile weeks over the years I get to the point where I don't get SORE. You can't really feel the abuse. Last summer on 60 mile weeks I needed 2 days off after each long run. Recovery is SLOW... on high mileage you seem to recover in no time, Can run comfortable the day after a marathon... BUT damage is still done and hormonally you need time to recover.

As for joints and knee problems with high mileage- It is a bunch of BULL If ready for it and have an established base- you'll have no problems.

The high mileage runner has a no better finisher % in 100's but in the ones they finish they run quicker than the low mileage runner.

As for limits- test them! Juma Ikanga ran over 200 mpw for 10 great years....

Buzz Burrell

Scott Adams wrote (in part):

I have a question for the hard cores out there. I have heard about running 100+ miles a week to train for the big races. I was wondering those that put in this kind of mileage do it.
I ran 100 miles every week while a Senior in High School. This was while training for the longest event they had in X-C and Track: 2 miles. (You can imagine what a relief it was for me when ultra racing began).

We ran in cotton gym shorts and sneakers with leather uppers. There was no such thing as fanny packs, powerbars, or for that matter, ever eating or drinking anything while running. The technique instead, was very simple:

  1. Have tons of hormones coursing thru your sex-crazed young body.

  2. Be such a stupid geek that you have no girlfriend, and wouldn't know what to do with her if you did.

  3. Go out and run like hell instead.

As Dogbert would have said, I was searching for "Nerdvana".

Dick Vincent

Hundred mile weeks can be of great value but one thing that I think may have been overlooked in some of the earlier responses to your post is that you must build up to them gradually. If you are running in the neighborhood of say, 40 miles per week now, you can't just become a 100 mile a weaker overnight. That will surely be a formula for disaster. What may help is to slowly start increasing your mileage over time. There is the theory that you should increase your mileage no more than 10% per week, but I think that in the long haul even 10% a week will be too much. Every runner responds differently to increased training/stress, but I think it is safe to say that you can start adding workouts to your weekly regiment so that your mileage starts to climb, but don't expect to be running 100 miles per week even in three or four months. My suggestion would be to increase your mileage (assuming you were running 40 miles per week) to 50 miles per week over say 6 weeks, and stay there until you can run that amount of mileage for a month comfortably, including long runs and faster workouts. When you can do a month of that with no problems, then spend another month or two working up to 60 mpw, and so on. Over a period of time you will gain strength and conditioning, and also reduce the risk of injury. Of course, the dose prescribed here is just a reference point and it is important to realize that for some runners this will be to much too fast, and for others it will too conservative of an approach. The idea though, is to let the mileage help make you stronger rather than slowly destroy you. ...... Just a few thoughts.

Jeff Riddle

For me a 100 mile week gives me as much mental confidence as physical. I usually arrange my monthly training as follows building up to a 100 mile week. This year I trying to run one 100 mile week a month in the months before a 100 mile race:

Week 1 - 40 rest week
Week 2 - 65 20 mile long day
Week 3 - 55 15 mile long day
Week 4 - 100 2-20to30 m long day (usually a race)
Week 1 - 40 rest week (very important)


Weekly pattern is:

Mon-am rest/pm hard tempo run 10K pace for 2 miles

Tue-am/pm easy;
Wed-am long/pm easy;
Thr-am easy/pm hard hill repeats for 2-2.5 miles
Fri-am easy/pm rest
Sat-am long (xlong week 4);
Sun-am pace run/pm easy (pace is half/marathon pace for 6-9 miles)

I've run many years with a lot of miles so you may need to build up to a 100 mile week over a 6 month period.

As far as running injuries, if you rest, eat, drink properly, and run with correct form injuries need not and should not happen.

I keep things interesting by running in the woods, on the road, thru the ditches, with faster runners, with slower runners, my 2 kids, their friends and just me, and nice walks with my wife in the middle of a xlong run in the woods.

Plan or don't plan according to your personality and experiment, but above all have fun!!

George Beinhorn

A VERY instructive book, regarding 100-mile weeks, is "Running With the Legends" (Human Kinetics Press). (A fantastically helpful book for all runners.)

The author, 2:30 marathoner and Boulder newspaper reporter Michael Sandrock, describes the training and careers of 21 great runners. It's a priceless resource and a wonderful read. Naturally, nearly all the runners worked up to more than 100 miles a week, routinely taking to do so. By working up slowly, they themselves said they were able to do the work without getting injured or over trained.

Another very striking factor in the training of these great runners that the most consistently successful among them trained easily on their "light" days. For example, Frank Shorter wasn't above running at 10-minute pace with joggers on his easy days. Of course, when they trained hard, they did incredible things. E.g., Emil Zatopek's 40x400 workouts.