Moving Up From a 50 to a 100 Miler


Experience From - Rock Cogar , Steve Pero , Stan Jensen #1 , Tony Covarrubias , Bob Rayburn , Dana Roueche , Matt Mahoney , Stan Jensen #2 , Cheri Gillis , Shawn McDonald ,

Rock Cogar

Any advice from all you seasoned 100 milers on how become 100 mile trail runners

Because there are very few races between 50 and 100 miles, it appears that beginners must double their longest long run distance in a single day !

I suspect that my experience with my first 100 (1999 OD100) was typical. My50 mile runs and races prepared me to run 50 miles fairly well and not much more. I found myself at the halfway point in 11 hours but suffered through18 more hours to get to the finish line. It was embarrassing to endure the whole distance and not even finish "officially" when I am used to being in the top third of finishers in marathons, 50 milers and Ironman distance triathlons.

So what does an ultrarunner do, run the first 100 of the season, making sure to get at least to mile 75, as a trainer for the next 100 ?

I am sure that a very significant percentage of persons on the list are at the 50 mile level and would really like to make this gigantic leap, so come-on you tough veterans, tell us how.

Steve Pero

A good friend once told Me before my first 100 that the only difference between the 50 and 100 was to just go slower and eat worked for Me.

Stan Jensen #1

I completed my first (Angeles Crest '95) by running two of their training runs and using a crew and pacers to help me through the last half. If you want to run OD again, get some friends and train on the course. For the race, go overboard: have a crew, a "safety companion", and a drop bag wherever you can. No reason to drop because you needed something you'd left at home.

Because there are very few races between 50 and 100 miles, it appears that beginners must double their longest long run distance in a single day !

There are at least a dozen trail races that are between 50 and 100 miles long, or that are so tough (e.g. Zane Grey Hughline Trail) that it'll take most people several more hours to finish than a 50-miler. If you want to experience the second half of a 100, go for a night run after finishing a trail 50 earlier that day.

So what does an ultrarunner do, run the first 100 of the season, making sure to get at least to mile 75, as a trainer for the next 100?

I don't recommend you start a 100 with the idea of dropping part way, but a course with multiple laps, like Rocky Racoon or Umstead, will let you break the distance down into smaller chunks, much like running from one aid station to the next.

As Steve Pero said, go slower and eat more. You don't want your splits to be 11+18 (more like 13+15 at OD) and you'll need to learn how to keep your food, hydration and electrolytes under control.

You have finished your first 100-miler, now you just need to make it official and that just means being faster by an hour. You can do it.

Tony Covarrubias

I have the same reservations as Rock ... even a 100K doesn't seem to be sufficient.

I noticed an announced 100 miler that had an optional 25 and 50 miler attached; as it was on a 25 mile loop. Why not offer a 75 miler as well.

Bob Rayburn

I think Stan Jensen mentioned earlier today the suggestion of doing a night run after a 50 mile trail during the day. I think Stan highlights a very important aspect of 100 mile training here. A big difference between 50s and100s is the night: because of this I find 50s very much runs of the body while 100s are runs of the mind.

Dana Roueche

To bridge the gap, try a 24 hr run. You decide how far you want to run and get the benefit of experiencing the night portion of the run. If you end up running 100 miles in the 24 hrs, I guess there was no reason to be concerned.

Also, 24 hr runs don't necessarily have to be run on a track or paved loop. Scott Weber organizes one on a 4 mile out and back on a rolling trail/dirt access road in May.

Matt Mahoney

I found that running 100 miles is MUCH harder than 50. I never had a DNF until I tried 100, then had 3 in a row. So I took a survey on this list (about 5 years ago) to find out how people trained for 100 miles vs.. 50 miles. What I discovered was that there is very little difference, about 10% higher mileage and slightly more emphasis on long runs or back to back long runs. The average was about 50 miles/week with back to back long runs (typically 30 on Saturday and 20 on Sunday) once every 2-4 weeks.

By the way, I don't train this way. I don't do back to back runs, but rather I use each ultra every 1-2 months as training for the next. My highest mileage was 25/week for the 6 months before Hardrock, but I also cross train with biking, walking, and weights. My training runs were two50K's, 3 50 milers, one 100 miler (Massanutten) and a 28 hour DNF at Barkley. I had 4 weeks of altitude acclimation before Hardrock with all of my training in the last 2 weeks at 10,000 to 14,000 ft. elevation.

The big differences between 50 and 100 are in pacing, eating, and sleeping (or lack of). Before I finished my first 100 at Vermont, I Had, over about 2 years, training runs of 62, 52, and 70 miles (all 100mile DNF's) and 24 hour runs of 84 and 80 miles. It wasn't until my first 24 hour that I knew how to handle running all night, and it wasn't until a 30 hour training run at Barkley (a 40 mile DNF), that I knew how-to handle the same in the woods. Once I had done those, I had no problem finishing Vermont in 27:53, then Leadville in 29:49 4 weeks later.

So, my advice is:

Pacing: plan on running 2.8 times your 50 mile time. Your 50 mile split should be at least 2-3 hours slower than normal. Plan on running no more in a 100 than you do in a 50, and add 50 miles of walking spread evenly through your race. Unless you can run 50 nonstop, then walk all uphills, no matter how slight, even in the first mile.

Eating: eat everything you would normally eat if you weren't running. Don't try to do it all on Gu, Powerbars, etc. unless that's your normal daily diet (uck).

Sleeping: take caffeine during the night and plan to go slower. Your energy and pace will return at dawn. My normal schedule is 100 mg caffeine at 10PM, 100 mg at 1AM, 200 mg at 4AM, and none during the day. If you are addicted (taking caffeine every day), your doses will be higher.

Rock, you missed your chance at finishing a 100 in Aug. or Sept. after your 100 mile training run at OD.

Stan Jensen #2

Tony wrote:

I have the same reservations as Rock ... even a 100K doesn't seem to be sufficient.
Don't think so much of the distance as the time. My 100 mile times range from 21:39 to 33:42 and when I run Hardrock, I expect it'll take even longer. My time at the Zane Grey Highline Trail 50m was 13:33, while my time at the Catalina 100k was only 12:29. In preparation for a100-miler, it'll help if you run continuously (or with short breaks) for several hours longer than you're used to. The next best thing is long runs on consecutive days. Learn what it's like to resume running when you're fatigued and have an opportunity to call it quits.

Cheri Gillis

I found the experience of pacing runners for the last half of a hundred invaluable in preparing for my own 100 miler. I thought it would be hard to run through the night but found that I loved it!

Shawn McDonald

I would echo what Stan and Matt wrote about training for and running in 100 mile trail races. The real key thing is to get some significant experience in races up to 100k (i.e. being out all day on the trail) and to build up your endurance base over a couple of year period. A few of your long runs should be longer than you would do in preparing for a 50mile run. Maybe if you do mostly 20-25 mile long runs to prep for the 50, then do a couple of 35-40 milers to prep for the 100. Other tips include: