Training for a 100 Miler


Experience From - Kevin Setnes #1, Steven Siguaw #1, Ivy Franklin, Joel Zucker, Kevin Setnes #2, Matt Mahoney #1, Dana Roueche, Matt Mahoney #2, George Beinhorn , Mike , Jan Schlueter , Karl King#1 , Jay Hodde , David Sill , Matt Mahoney #3 , Steve Siguaw #2 , John Vonhof , Karl King#2 , Kevin O'Neall , Sam , Larry Gassan , Al Howie , Karl King#3 , Kevin Setnes , Al Howie , Mark Dorion , Karl King#4 , Jay Hodde , Bryan Beel , Karl King#5 , Clem LaCava , Al Howie , Ken Mick , Clem LaCava , Tom Noll , Bill LaDieu , Bill LaDieu#2 , Dave Olney , Shawn McDonald , Larry Gassen#2 , Peyton Robinson , Norm Yarger ,

Kevin Setnes #1

Paul Olson recently asked for advice on reaching 100 miles in 24 hours. The 1/8 mile track does not sound very inviting to most of us, but depending on the size of the field, you are more than capable of reaching 100 miles (in 24 hours). Some tips:

  1. Pacing is critical! Especially the first few hours. Go out very conservative. Create a plan whereas you forget about laps (but not forgetting to ack your counter). Try a run/walk strategy such as 20 minutes of running followed by 10 minutes of walking. Continue this pattern for each half hour for as long as you possibly can.

  2. Obviously, eat and drink while walking. Have your food and drink prepared in bottles and baggies. Label them by the hour. This saves valuable time as you do not want to be searching for something. When you come by just swoop down with your hand and picking up the item and precede. If you have a handler - great, but give them a detailed set of instructions.

  3. Aim for 50 percent of your calories from liquid. 50% from solids. Maintain a fairly routine breakdown of 70% carbo, 20% protein and 10% fat. BCCA (Branch Chain Amino Acid) supplements work well, especially at night (Muscularity, Amino Fuel by Twin Labs).

  4. Easy on the turns. Will they reverse direction every few hours? Hopefully they will, otherwise you may have some joint or foot problems.

  5. Speaking of feet. Stay as blister free, as possible. Quality socks (Ultimax), properly fitted shoes and dry feet goes along way. Vaseline works for some, duct tape on the ball of the foot or nylon socks are other suggestions. It is recommended you experiment first with each of these items.

  6. Don't stop (unless it is to use the bathroom or change socks/shoes). Create a set of goals, that you must keep repeating to yourself. Justify this madness that you are putting yourself through. If you have a friend or crew there - brief them on what you'll need to hear to motivate yourself.

  7. Bring everything you can think of. You are only a very short distance from your bag, so take advantage of it and organize the hell out of your bags and food/drink box.

  8. Partner with your fellow competitors. Bond with them and help each other out when the rough periods arrive.

Steven Siguaw #1

Several runners have asked me for a training schedule to run a 100 mile race this summer (usually Leadville). My typical training for a 100 mile race begins in October and ends the following August (to peak for the Leadville Trail 100). Since WS is in June and Vermont is in July, all you have to do is shift the schedule to meet the these race dates. Here is the schedule I have used successfully both at Leadville and Vermont. It is based primarily on the work by the legendary coach, Arthur Lydiard (Running the Lydiard Way) as well as a lot of personal experience training for these races:

October - April (Build Base Mileage)

  1. Run 70-75 miles/week (2 workouts/day during the week)
  2. 25% of weekly mileage at 10K or 5K pace
  3. Longest run (one day on the weekend) is 22 miles
  4. Every 3-4 weeks, run 25-50 miles for your long run instead of 22 miles
  5. Weight training 2-3 times/week
May (Transition to very long training runs)
  1. Increase mileage to 80-85 miles/week (2 workouts/day during the week)
  2. Begin Track workouts of 800 meters and 400 meters with 400 meter recovery; run at 80-90% effort
  3. 33% of base mileage at 10K or 5K pace
  4. Longest run (one day on the weekend) is still 22 miles
  5. Every 3-4 weeks, run 25-50 miles for your long run instead of 22 miles
  6. Weight training 2-3 times/week
  7. No races of 50 miles or greater from now until 100 mile race day

June-July (Intense training)

  1. Increase mileage to 100-125 miles/week (2-3 workouts/day during the week)
  2. Continue Track workouts of 800 meters and 400 meters with 400 meter recovery; run at 100-110% effort
  3. Longest run (one day on the weekend) is between 35-45 miles (6 to 10 hours on trails-ideally on the actual race course)
  4. Weight training 2-3 times/week

August (Taper! and SHOW-TIME!!)

  1. Decrease mileage to 70-80 miles first week
  2. Decrease mileage to 50 miles second week
  3. Third week is light jogging for 3 days then rest 2 days then RACE!!

  1. Practically all of this training occurs above 8,000 feet altitude so you may have to adjust the mileage upward if you train at sea level.

  2. The long runs during June and July prepare you for both the physical demands of a 100 mile race as well as the mental stress of being out on the trail and running all day long.

  3. Racing (any distance) will help you build strength during the base mileage phase; however, see below:

  4. I have found that when I race 50 miles or more in May or June I am still fatigued at the 100 mile race; therefore I recommend no races of 50 miles or greater for the 3 months before the big race.

Above all, remember what George Sheehan said, we are all an "experiment of one." No training schedule will be a panacea for every ultra runner.

Ivy Franklin

The goal has finally been achieved: a finish at the Arkansas Traveler 100, which is in my own back yard. My time was 27:25.

Success #1
I duct taped my feet, wore knee hi panty hose, wore two-ply blister prevention socks, and a relatively new pair of well-cushioned shoes. Not one blister, hot spot, or any foot pain at all.

Success #2
I ran very, very, very slow for the first 55 miles. Nick Williams told me to stay with him for the first part of the course and then I'd have something left for the last part. At around mile 55 he told me to go on, that I was running too strong. Nick went on to get a 70 year old man in who has attempted a 100 twice before and would be interviewed by the local TV station upon his return to Ft. Myers if he completed this run. Nicks our resident pro on helping people run 100's.

Success #3
Listened to Karl Kings advice regarding, well, everything, but especially purchased some of his Succeed! drink which is absolutely fabulous. Why? It hardly has a taste to it at all, so you can drink it forever. You don't have that yucky citrus taste build-up that other drinks do. I also begged him for some of his Electrolyte Tablets that he hasn't marketed yet. I stopped drinking the Succeed halfway into the run only because I didn't want to mix anything later on, and I hate having sticky hands from spilling it. With the tablets, you can drink plain water and eat your carbohydrates and not have to fool with mixing a drink. I profess here now that I never got sick at my stomach or nauseated. Later in the race, I did get a little bit of heartburn, after downing cokes at the aid stations but drinking water fixed that.

Success # 4
Running into Lou Peyton who had caffeine tablets. I got so sleepy that my pacer finally realized trying to get me to the next aid station wasn't going to work so he found me a nice spot off the side of the road where I took a nice little nap. By the Way, I never got that sleepy at Umstead Trail 100, and my theory is that the new moon made it so absolutely dark that your body wanted to go into sleep mode more than normal.

Success # 5
This one is a big one. Dan McCullough offered to pace me when the runner he was going to pace, Ted Bowden, couldn't run it this year. I wasn't going to have a pacer since I didn't have a crew or pacer at Umstead and did just fine. Boy, am I glad I had Dan. He did everything just right, even the little things that most people wouldn't think of. For instance, I really appreciated that he would slow jog with me even though he could have just walked and kept up with me. This tip needs to go in the pacer manual for sure. He always said the right things when I'd get in a funk like "I understand how you feel." Boy, empathy helps during those moments.

Success # 6
My husband Bob. Best darn crew west of the Mississippi. East of it too. He had found these little glow sticks a few weeks ago, and had my name spelled out with the glow sticks at one of the aid stations during the night. He had such a spread laid out for me that most runners thought HE was the aid station. A couple runners told him they were coming back next year only they were going to change their name to Ivy.

Joel Zucker

I used to run eighty miles a week, a pretty standard eleven miles each weekday and then about twenty two miles on Saturday and a real easy four or so on Sunday. So of course when I did my first hundred miler in 1993 my body was totally unprepared for what hit it, even though I was running a *lot* of miles for two years beforehand, right around 4,000 miles a year. Worse, my mind was totally unprepared for the onslaught that accompanies a hundred, the emotional fatigue and depleted quads and swollen feet and wanting to drop out at the next aid station more than you have ever wanted anything before. Making it thru Arkansas was a miracle, and because I did finish I didn't realize that being very fit, which I was, didn't have a whole lot to do with being ready to run a hundred miler.

Fast forward to last year. My knee had broken down completely, with excess mileage probably a major contributing factor, and I couldn't run for months. When I finally healed, I was doing only three or four miles on weekdays, and I found myself doing loooong runs on weekends, like four or five hours, not so much to make up for low mileage on workdays and maintain some sort of weekly mileage base but because I had so much more *energy* left for thirty mile runs on weekends. When I felt more confident about increasing the workload on my body, I stayed with the half hour runs on weekdays, and found myself getting out into the six hour and sometimes even seven hour range on one weekend run every week, runs that simulated most of what I would go thru in a hundred miler and that let me prepare for them, both mentally and physiologically. Going into Hardrock this past July, I was doing a little over half of the mileage that I used to do before the breakdown, but the lower mileage, the backing off, was what gave me the desire and energy to do those long runs that made my body get accustomed to running on empty and my mind learn to handle the hours and hours out there. So I am positive that my finishing Hardrock this past July was due, aside from having two great pacers and a s*#it-load of luck, to running less mileage on a weekly basis than I had in fifteen years.
We're all an experiment of one. And every statistical compilation is, in some sense, just a collection of anecdotal experiences. But if you want to run very long, I personally wouldn't worry too much about total mileage; you can run a pedal-to-the-metal, kick-butt twenty miles every day, and it still doesn't train your body or mind for and entire day and night out there.

My longest run the past five days was four miles, and I know that the thirty miles I will do tomorrow in the woods will still only give me maybe fifty for the week, but I also know that it will prepare me better for ultras than the high mileage I used to *think* I thrived on. Maybe, just maybe, people having trouble finishing hundred milers aren't running too little but rather too much.

Kevin Setnes #2

Dana has many good points in his recent post about finishing 100's and your own running or training lifestyle. I was also glad to see him pick out the one entrant in the survey that skewed the results so dramatically.

Mileage (miles per week of training) is a determining factor in how you finish (any race). You can achieve a lot of advantages by adding miles to your weekly regimen. But there is also a risk/reward factor. The person who churns out 80 miles per week in training is much better equipped to deal with the difficulties of running a 100 miler than one who does 20 a week. Endurance, strength, tougher feet all are gained with added mileage. The risks are overuse injuries, burnout and family and social stress.

Dana said something to the effect that "low mileage goes against the grain of what ultra running is all about". You should always practice in the environment that you'll be entering into. And I feel this is true for front runners as well as back-of-the-packers, who just want to finish an ultra.

If asked by newbies to the sport, (on how to train for an ultra) I generally respond, that training for an ultra does not require much more time than if you are running the local 5K - Marathon scene. The major difference is the long training run on the weekend, plus the practice of eating and drinking. And by long training run I mean 24 to 32 miles. Anything less than that does little to prepare you for the ultra distances of 50 to 100 miles. And if this is all you do in a week, than 24 miles is about as low as you can get in preparing for ultras. (I realize that some people cross train, by cycling, swimming, etc. thus adding to the running mileage).

It would be interesting to see if we broke ultra runners up in to 3 distinct (training) groups and then gathered finish results, to see what the statistics would show.

The gaps between groups would just help separate the runners and help eliminate some of the skewed results from a small sample.

If you fall into one of these runner types and have results from a 50 mile, 100 mile and 24 hour during 1996, E-mail me the information (indicate trail or road performance) then I'll study the results and post whatever conclusions we can come up with. In addition to that indicate the number and length of long training runs you had leading up to the event (8 weeks prior).

To summarize, send the following: Runner Type (A, B, C), 50 mile result, 100 mile result, 24 hour result, Number and length of long training runs. (8 weeks prior)

Matt Mahoney #1

Robin Kane wrote:

"How do you train for 100?

Pretty broad, so specifically what defines a long run and miles/week?"

A couple of years ago before I finished my first 100 I took a survey on this list to find out how training for 100 miles differed from training for 50. The answer was that people increased their total mileage by about 10%, mostly by increasing the length of their long runs. Average mileage is about 50 mi/wk with a long run of 50 miles one month to one year before the race. A common long run is 30 on Saturday and 20 on Sunday once every 2-4 weeks. Most people were successful on their first 100 attempt, which surprised me because it took me 4 tries.

More recently I took another survey ( Among 54 runners attempting over 180 100 mile races, it found no correlation between training mileage (15-90 mi/wk) and chance of finishing (about 66%).

However, high mileage runners are faster if they do finish. More surprisingly, it found the highest success rate (over 80% finish rate) among those with lifetime 10K PR's of around 38-40 minutes, neither faster nor slower.

My own training is at the low end (15/wk) but I have always done a long run of 70-100 miles (another ultra) 1-3 months before each of my 4 successful 100's (2 at Leadville). My longest run before my 3 DNF's was 26-57 miles. In addition to running, I bike, swim, and lift weights for a total of about an hour of training a day average. I run twice a week: one fartlek session and one short race (5K, Triathlon, etc) plus a long slow run about once a month. Also, my 10K PR is about optimal (38:55).

"What do you eat during?"

Stick to your normal diet as much as possible. Don't try to do it on just carbohydrates, even if you can for 50 miles. 100 is different.

"What are some good shoes?"

Some elite runners make their own sandals from old tires and leather thongs. I prefer running shoes.

Dana Roueche

The question on training for a 100 miler came from a new member to the list. Immediately following, advise was given to run 15 miles/wk with a long run of 70 to 100 miles, then other advice for 100 miles per week, then 50 to 60 miles per week. With time we'll probably hear more advice to run between 15 and 50 or 60 and 100.

My advice to any runner looking for help, new, old, elite or back of the packer is to not take advice from someone who doesn't your history and current running status. Advice given without knowing how long a person has been running, the type of training they have been and are currently doing, their past and current injury history is possibly based on wrong assumptions about the runner and in this case, poor advice. The most common wrong assumption is that the runner is similar to the person giving the advice. We certainly know how different we all are.

I have been and I'm continually concerned about advice given to new people joining this list based on assumptions about the person that may simply not be true. I know we are sincerely trying to help. I have come to recognize that there are almost as many training formulas to run a successful 100 miler as there are members on this list who have run a 100 miler. This leads me to believe that the right training formula is the one that is tailored specifically to the individual's needs. My concern is that if the advice is wrong, it could lead the new comer to at a minimum have a bad experience and turn them off from ultra running, but worse still, it could lead to injury.

My suggestion is before advice is given, your assumptions are laid out so that the new person is alerted to the fact that they may not fit the profile for the person you are trying to help. Or simply ask the person about their background and current status and tailor your advice to fit that persons needs.

Matt Mahoney #2

Dana Roueche wrote:

"The question on training for a 100 miler came from a new member to the list. Immediately following, advise was given to run 15 miles/wk with a long run of 70 to 100 miles, then other advice for 100 miles per week, then 50 to 60 miles per week."

I can't imagine who would recommend 15 miles/week :-) Anyway, I published my research ( to show that mileage doesn't make any difference in terms of your chance of finishing (though it does affect your finish time if you do).

The correct training level is probably to run as much as you can without injury. This level varies widely from person to person. You will have to find your level by experiment. If you have already been running for several years, then you probably know what your level is. It is what you are doing now. Running is addictive. If you could run more, you would.

The good news is that, even if you have never run a marathon, you probably don't have to increase your training level from whatever it is now to finish a 100 miler. You merely have to change how you train, not how much you train. Like anything, you train by simulating race conditions. That means doing long runs, running on trails, running at race pace (i.e. lots of walking), carrying a pack, reading a map, eating while running, running at night with a light, drinking from streams, and all the things you'll have to do during the actual race.

Contrary to popular belief, I did not finish Leadville by jogging 2 miles a day on flat roads.

George Beinhorn

Tom Midlam wrote:

"I'm signed up for my first 100-miler at Vermont in July. I have one 50-miler (JFK) under my belt and another coming up in April (Bull Run Run). In preparation for the JFK, my running schedule was something like Tue: 8, Thu: 12, Sat: 16-30. Pretty low mileage. Also did a fair amount of biking and swimming on off days. Now I'm wondering if this training plan is adequate for a 100.

Should I add a day of running per week, perhaps making it a speed or hill workout?

Extend the duration of each run, maybe on into the dark night in order to get used to that?

I recall a survey, done by Matt Mahoney I believe, which concluded that on average, a 100 mile runner trains just 10% more mileage than a 50 mile runner. For me that's only 4-5 extra miles per week, practically negligible. Then again, I'm not an average ultra runner; I'm a beginner and I'm slow. So maybe the regimen that barely got me through the 50 will fail me at mile 75 in Vermont. I really don't want this to be my first DNF.

I figure a finish at Vermont will take 28 hours. This is based on my marathon best of roughly 4 hours and my 50 mile time of 11 hours. (4*2)+3=11, so (11*2)+6=28. Does that make any sense at all, based on similar training at all three distances?"

As one who DNF'd his first 100, here's my advice: DO THE IMPORTANT STUFF. You can go easy on the rest.

What's the important stuff?

  1. THE LONG RUN. This is "that without which you will not succeed." This means The Frequent 50k. If you do nothing else, running 2-3 50k's per month will get you through your 100.

    You want your 50k's to be frequent. Therefore, run/walk them; e.g., run 5 minutes and walk 1 minute throughout.

  2. WEIGHTS. If your 100 is hilly, do weights. There is no better, more time-efficient way to prepare for the hills. I'll say one thing about my WS100 DNF: the hills gave me no problems at all. (Thanks, Matt--humble prostrations in the direction of Florida...) See my Web site for weight workout instructions ("How to run Your First 50-Miler"), URL in my signature below.

  3. TACTICS. This means dealing with food, blisters, flashlights, socks, etc., etc. You can pick up a lot on the list about these factors. You MUST take care of them, or they will cause you endless misery. And you must not neglect them during the race; e.g., letting an incipient blister go untreated too long.

Your marathon and 50 mile times are no predictors at all of your 100 time. You can power-walk a 100 in 28 hours, theoretically. In practice, 100 miles is a very long distance, whether you're power-walking or not. You MUST do the long training runs, and LOTS of them, or you will suffer greatly in the 100.


Tom Midlam wonders at the mysteries of adequate training for finishing his First 100 next summer.

First, Tom: I think your mileage is adequate, just keep up the distance and intensity through the Mid Atlantic heat and humidity and you'll have mastered the requisite survival shuffle.

Second: Work in some 100-mile specific training. Long night runs with your light source(s) of choice, night trail runs, mental training runs (get up early and work hard all day, come home late, play with the kids, give them a bath, put 'em to bed, stay up doing fun things with your spouse, and *then* go for your 20 mile run).

Bottom line: Maintain the distance, streamline your gear, train specific, and have fun!

Jan Schlueter

I ran Vermont back in 1994 as my first 100 miler. I don't remember adding up my mileage each week, but I do remember making sure I added a lot of hill training/repeats to my workout schedule. Even though Vermont is considered an "easy 100" don't let that fool you. It's a "rolling" course and I was VERY happy that I spent as much time running hills as I did. Your biking may count for some of this. In my opinion, the type of workouts one does in training is much more important than total mileage for the week.

Karl King #1

John Prohira posts many questions. Here are my comments.

John, your experience so far is encouraging, and you should have a good shot at finishing your first 100 mile run.

Long runs: at least 5 runs of >20, plus at least 1 run of >30. It would be good to do 2 runs of >30, spaced at least 4 weeks apart. The purpose of long runs is to stress the endocrine system, and the two runs of >30 will do that.

If you do those runs, you will have adequate experience at running while tired. You already got doses of that in the ultras you've run. Since the purpose of the long run is to stress your endocrine system, one very long run is more effective than back to back runs totaling approximately the same distance. Do back to back runs only if you can't find the time for >30. If possible, do your long runs on terrain that simulates the ultra course you'll run.

Running at night takes some practice. If you don't do so already, run some of your shorter runs at night. Try to run in the time frame of 10 pm to midnight, and 4 am to sunrise. Try caffeine in one of the many forms available ( coffee, chocolate, pills, Guarana ) to see how it works for you. Since you're familiar with SUCCEED! products, try the Amino and/or CLIP at night; both were formulated to increase alertness and combat mental fatigue at night. S! Ultra was not specially formulated for night running. At Vermont, I used Amino and chocolate. At 11 pm I was sleepy but perked up and ran the rest the night with no sleepiness. At Kettle Moraine, the afternoon start left all the runners a little fresher when night fell. There I used CLIP and guarana and had the pleasure of running the entire night with not a trace of sleepiness. Running through acres of fragrant honeysuckle at midnight was very memorable.

As for eating, 100's are very different from 50's. Your pace is slower so you can digest more, and you must. You have to keep pushing the calories, fluids and electrolytes. If you get lazy, or if you feel really great, you can forget to replenish or think you don't need to. Wrong. In the miles after 100K, you'll be very much on the edge. If you don't take care of your needs, you'll be over the edge and on the way to a DNF. If you short yourself on water and electrolytes, you'll lose your appetite for anything. Whether you use a crew or go unsupported, have a schedule for eating and drinking, and stick as close to it as possible. In addition, if something from the aid station table looks good to you, go for it.

If you have a crew, don't let them kill you with kindness by letting you sit for too long at each stop. Vermont has so many aid stations that even 4 minutes per station is too much time. When Steve Peterson won Leadville this year, his crew had him in and out of each station in not more than one minute. That is extremely short, but illustrates the point.

Clearly, the logistics of a 100 are more difficult than a 50 and take considerable forethought and planning. If you'd rather just bring everything and have it at hand, then a 24 hour run would suit you better.

As for a 100 in April, if you've been regularly doing long runs in the range of 20-25, April should be OK. Otherwise, a later run might be a better choice. The runners who do well at the 100's generally have a deep base, built up over many months and years of running.

Jay Hodde

John asks a bunch of questions:

"I wonder how long my long runs should be while training for a 100 mile/24+ hour race?"

John, my long *training* runs over the last 3 years have *never* averaged more than 15 miles at a time. Sure, there might have been 1 or 2 in the 20+ mile range, but that's not normal for me.

The key for me, however, was to race a lot. In 1994, I ran 12 marathons -- one a month. This gave me a good base for the 50-miler, which I was running back then.

In 1995, as I was preparing for my first 100, I ran a few (like, 3?) 50K races, and a couple of marathons, and also a 50-miler.

In 1996, as I began to concentrate on the 100 mile distance, I ran a couple of 50-milers, in addition to the training mileage.

I bring this up because many runners will tell you that they never train more than X number of miles at a time -- but they forget to mention that the races count, too.

"Need I train in XS of 6-8 hours at one time? and how often?"
See above, but I think I would want to feel "comfortable" (meaning: not intimidated by) with the 50 miler first. I have *never* done a run of 6-8 hours in training by myself. Remember Yiannis Kouros said, "...use your brains more and train less. Save your strength for the race itself."

"Should I learn to run while tired (IE. consecutive long run days)? Learn to run in and through the night hours?"
In a 100 miler, there will be many times you will want to walk like up steep hills or on rocky terrain. In my opinion, the only thing that running through fatigue on consecutive long days does is make you more tired, and more susceptible to illness or injury.

The only real way to learn to run while tired is to enter the 100-miler and find out how it feels. Believe me, the fatigue after 80+ consecutive miles can't be experienced in "normal" training.

As for running in and through the night hours, I would suggest doing some night runs and getting used to your lighting system. It's not as easy as it looks! As for battling the fatigue of running at night, however . . . well, the body wants to sleep when it is dark out, and unless you work the 3rd shift or deliver newspapers, you won't get used to it. Besides, I've found that I don't really get extremely tired at night during a 100-miler. It seems to hit me around 8 a.m. (I know Matt M has a different opinion here).

"Rest for longer periods prior to race? Before JFK I rested completely for four days, did have an eight hour drive the day before, and a flight from Rochester NY to Houston the day before Sunmart. Should I plan on getting to the event a day early to avoid travel lag?"

Except for Leadville last year, I arrived (either driving or flying) the day before each of the events. The key to being rested, in my opinion, is to get a good night of sleep on Thursday night before the event. Friday night, for me, always means poor sleep (and not enough, especially for those 4 a.m. starts).

My pre-race week of training this year meant normal training mileage on Sunday - Wednesday (about 35 miles total), a reduced Thursday workout (4 miles or so), and Friday off (usually for travel). The key is finding the right mixture of rest and running that keeps YOU fresh AND rested at the same time.

"Challenge at Umstead with eight 12.5 mile loops. I wonder if a point to point course might be better for my first 100 mile effort."
I've done all types of courses, and I find a single loop or a point-to-point easier than a multiple loop format. However, the challenge lies in your mind set before the race. If you tell yourself that you are going to stop at mile 70, then you'll do it. If you deny yourself that thought and make quitting a non-option, then you'll be able to continue to the finish.

At the Rocky Racoon 100, with its 20 mile loops, leaving the start/finish after 20 and 40 miles is easy -- you haven't run far enough to be tired yet. It's easy to leave at 80 miles, too, because you only have one more to go. The 60 mile mark, however, is the bear. Prepare for it, and tell yourself you can't stop there. It works.

At Umstead, the first 4 12.5 mile loops should be CAKE for you -- you've done that distance before. The next 2, however, are the ones you need to be mentally strong for. Just remind yourself (as you are feeling awful and getting tired) that QUITTING IS NOT AN OPTION! Once you're past 75 miles -- well, let me say that it's all downhill from there!

"Is April time enough to prepare for a 100? I've considered Vermont later in the year but fear the heat."
I'm a "big" advocate of starting, even if you don't think you can finish -- especially in your first 100. Why? Let's see, you've done a 50, so that's not a big challenge anymore, right? So, get to 75 miles in your first 100, and drop out if you must. The good thing is that you have gone 25 miles farther than ever before, and you know what to expect between mile 60-70 (the hardest miles of a 100-miler, in my opinion).

Besides, if you don't finish, you've got plenty of time to recover for Vermont :-)

"Does one train to stay awake for 24 hours in prepping for these events? The last time I was awake for that long was in college and that was probably ? drug induced?."
It just makes me tired -- physically and mentally. There's no reason to disrupt the body's normal cycle. You'll want to sleep at night no matter what you are doing or where you are -- though I find that I don't get nearly as tired when I'm on the trail as I do when I'm watching ABC sitcoms :-).

"I've used Karl's electrolytes caps and drink, understand the importance of replacing lost salts and water. Have eaten during my ultra efforts but did grow weary of what was offered after eight hours or so. Does one continue to force what had become unappealing down? Do most of you running 100's bring your own food? A crew?"
Good question! Any of the 100-milers can be done without a crew. Sometimes they get in the way and it's easier to be on your own anyway (I'm not knocking my crews, they were WONDERFUL -- all of them -- in 1997). I usually try to use the aid station food as much as possible, but I bring along my own SUCCEED! Amino and electrolyte caps.

As you said, the big problem with aid station food is variety. Some events are better at this than others, however.

When I can (like on a multiple loop course, say UMSTEAD, for example), I like to buy my own food and have it available for me at the end of each loop. Then, I can use the aid station or my own food -- I just double the variety.

David Sill

I have to say how much I agree with what Jason has said. More racing and less training is much more fun. I switched to this two years ago and recommend it. (I won a 24 hour a few months ago for the first time ever, using this system!). Most of the books say to put in the miles in training but I don't think it is necessary for ultra's once you have built up your base. And the 20 miler training runs that I used to do as a marathoner are gone. The key thing is the races themselves and their frequency. They are the hard workouts that keep me race fit. Elite runners may have to approach it differently.

Matt Mahoney #3

A few years ago (after 3 100 mile attempts and 3 DNF's) I did a survey comparing 50 and 100 mile training among runners who had finished a 100. There was little difference in mileage (about 10% higher for 100's). Total mileage varied widely, from 20 to 120 miles/week, average around 55. Both types of training involved long runs every 2-4 weeks, often back to back runs like 30 on Saturday and 20 on Sunday. The only significant difference was that almost all of those who finished a 100 on their first attempt had a long run of 50 miles or more (usually a race) between 1 and 8 months before the 100.

I thought (and so did others) that my low mileage (15 miles/week) might be to blame for my DNF's, but rather than increase my mileage and risk injury, I found the missing pieces of my training. One was that I had never coped with running all night, so I entered a 24 hour track race and ran 84 miles. The second was that I hadn't run at night on trails, so I entered Barkley and covered 40 miles in just under 30 hours, navigating through the woods without aid (carrying all food and supplies), without course markings, and often without trail. A DNF, but now adequately trained, I finished Vermont, Leadville, and Arkansas later that year.

Here is what I learned: from 10 PM to 6 AM, your body tries to sleep, race or no race. Your body temperature drops, your digestive system shuts down, your pace slows to a crawl, and your brain tries to dream, i.e. you hallucinate. Caffeine helps, but you must still plan your pace accordingly. A 10-15 minute nap helps with the hallucinations. (I will try this next summer at Hardrock when I am on the Bear Creek Trail at 3 AM. The trail is 4 feet wide on loose slate chips, cut into the side of a 500 foot wall of rock with no railings. You can tell where not to step because your flashlight beam disappears). At sunrise you will recover, and if you paced yourself properly (i.e. walked all the up hills, no matter how easy), you will be almost as fresh as the previous morning, with only a few miles to go (or at Hardrock, 40-50 miles to go).

Steve Siguaw #2

Tom wrote:

"I recall a survey, done by Matt Mahoney I believe, which concluded that on average, a 100 mile runner trains just 10% more mileage than a 50 mile runner."

A study done at the Leadville Trail 100 found a good correlation between the amount of normal weekly mileage for the preceding year and the chance of FINISHING the race (.07). The higher the mileage the better the chance of finishing the race.

Also, there was a good correlation between a higher normal weekly training mileage and the chances of breaking the 25 hour barrier (.02). In both cases, the faster runners (for the marathon, 10K and 50 miles) had a much better chance of finishing the race as well as breaking the 25 hour barrier.

The faster the runner and the more mileage the runner has run in the preceding year, the better chance you have of finishing a 100 mile race as well as finishing with a fast time. Rocket science :)

John Vonhof

Gordon K. Chace wrote:

"If your brain can accept repetition without scenery, consider a 24-hour event. Plenty of visits to your drop-bag, no overhead for navigation, and numerous chances to study the techniques and pick the brains of other ultra-runners both slower and faster than yourself."
I second Gordon's perspective. I have recommended to anyone asking about 100 mile trail runs that they first try a 24 hour track or road run. I did the Santa Rosa 24 Hour Cancer Society Track Run for before trying Western States. Although it was not planned that way, I found it useful in giving me a good sense of how my body could handle the stress of a 24 hour event. Since many 100 mile trail events may turn into 30 or more hours, the track run gives a controlled environment to learn about eating in a long event, how your feet and stomach respond, and how you will mentally and emotionally manage the long hours, the darkness, and the assorted other as yet unknown things that can happen in a long event.

Many runners with at a 100 mile trail run and find they cannot cope effectively with the stresses of the unknown.

There are many 24 hour runs out there that would welcome your participation. While you may argue they are boring, I cherish the hours spent running with Dick Collins and other runners at 10 Santa Rosa 24 Hour Track Runs.

Karl King #2

Wade asks if he is too ambitious to run an ultra at 19. Wade, take heart! 19 is not too old. You haven't missed the boat and still have time to get in a few ultras. The thing you are most likely to be short of is endurance. At 19 you probably have speed and power to burn.

Running an ultra distance is hard on muscles, connective tissue, the digestive system, the liver, the adrenal glands etc, etc. You can build up all of those through training, so an ultra next Summer is possible if work on exercise that lasts for a few hours at a time.

One thing you should think about is the sacrifice of running speed that comes with endurance training. Some of our muscle fibers can adapt for either speed or endurance. It is common for ultra runners to lose speed as they gain endurance; it is just the muscle fibers changing to fit the type of exercise they've been asked to do.

So, if you have plans to smoke a few 10Ks, you might not want to get into ultras just yet.

If you do want to go straight to the ultras, you should probably do a few marathons first ( if you haven't already done so ).

Kevin O'Neall

Kent Seckinger wrote:

"I need a little advice. I am planning on making the transition to ultras after only a few years of marathoning. I'm going to do a 50K in a few months and I'm not to worried about that distance. But my main question is when I attempt my first 50 miler, what are some suggestions anyone can give me on training for the 50 miler. What about diet, training, mileage/week, basically anything!! I'm a newby and need some advice."
I successfully ran my first 50-miler last year, using info gleaned from these lists. I averaged 50mpw for 8 weeks before the race. All of it was slow miles. (9-10min pace) Three weeks before the race I ran a marathon, but turned it into a 6-hour run by getting to the start an hour early and running for an hour, then leaving the course in mid-race, running for an hour, and returning to the race at the same spot I had left from. (Actually, I got temporarily lost on a convoluted course but you get the idea)

At the end of the 6-hour run, having covered around 36 miles, I felt ready to try a 50-mile run. For the next three weeks I did the typical marathon-type taper.

In the 50-miler, I walked anything resembling a hill. On level stretches I jogged 15, walked 5 minutes. Some say a 5:1min ratio works better, but it was too much hassle trying to time the one-minute segments. After 35 miles I knew I could finish so I ceased the walking breaks, stopping only to change the duct tape on my toes. I wore a 3/4 gallon Camelback, sipping Metabolol the entire way, and ate one Clif bar every hour. Late in the run, I developed a salt craving.

I finished in 10:15, feeling no worse than at the end of a regular marathon. In fact, I ran a marathon the next weekend.

Two warnings:

  1. I think Metabol worked for me in the 50miler because it was a relatively level course. A few weeks later I did a rough mountain race with boulder hopping, several stream crossings, sliding down snow glisades, etc. The bouncing turned metabolol into froth in my stomach. There's nothing like trying to vomit foam in front of an audience.

  2. Finishing a 50-miler often leads to an intense desire to try a 100 mile race.


Having recently made the jump to ultras from marathons, I can relate to your concern. For me the biggest changes were the following:

  1. Learning to start very slow and keep it up. If there is any question about your pace, you are going way too fast. Target a pace that will get you well under the cutoff, but no faster. It helps me to look at ultra training and races as social sightseeing events.

  2. Practice walking regularly during training runs. Most marathoners, like my previous self, considered walking during a race as a failure. It actually took a lot of practice for me to be able to stop running, walk for a while, then feel comfortable with starting to run again. Practice this during your your long training runs.

  3. Practice eating and drinking during training runs. If you're like me, I ate very little before and during marathons. As you will or have heard, taking in calories during a run is critical. For me, it took a lot of practice to be able to run on a full stomach and eat while running.

    It works well to combine #2 and #3.

  4. As far as training mileage, you hear that the mandatory weekly mileage ranges from 10 to 150. I didn't increase my weekly mileage at all. However, I focus a lot more now on longer long runs.

If and when you start to feel competitive with your ultras much of the above advice is less useful. For me ultras are pure social sightseeing events. Even though I now THINK about my finishing time, the sheer heaven of spending a day running, walking through the woods, at a slow comfortable pace with friends is 95% of the reason for them.

Larry Gassan

Jay wrote a while back:

Generally, I believe that the philosophy of many coaches would hold that the body is able to *run* a distance equal to three times your weekly long run (I don't remember where I heard that). I'd aim for about 35 miles, based on this philosophy.
I read this first in one of Joe Henderson's "Run" books c. 1987. The theory was used to describe the probablity of finishing. No more, no less. This theory also scans out by suggesting you will finish if your race is 3x your daily average mileage, But that is Marathon Land.

Running 100s is a way-different story, and a few 35'ers aren't going to provide sufficient information re: hydration, nutrition, biomechanics etc. So...figure out a way to go long at least 2x week at the peak of the training cycle after an appropriate ramp-up. You'll learn all kinds of useful information.

Al Howie

Jay wrote:

Would 20-miles a day, everyday, offer "adequate stress" to their systems, or would they adapt to the point where the mileage isn't benficial?
I don't know why nobody (almost nobody) seems to get that if you ran 20 miles a day, everyday, that would become a natural, normal part of your life and then you could build up on that, brushing your hair and teeth, shaving, doing your employment thing, hanging out with friends and family, eating, shaving etc + whatever training you chose ie..speedwork, fartlek, hill work, weights et al.

My supposedly eccentric training load may be abnormal BUT it certainly isn't 'abnatural' being much closer to the natural lifestyle of the Homosapien than the so called moderate exercise way of life proposed by (so called) Health Care Providers.

Crossing Canada 7 years ago I got in the habit of turning in 450 mile weeks and with adequate sleep (and that means plenty) and a healthy diet it become just a way of life. Two weeks after finishing, with a radical taper, I ran the race of my life setting numerous world records in the 1991 1,300 mile race. After that I was wiped out as during this race I pushed to the limit going into extreme sleep deprivation on 3 hours sleep per night.

But my point is that provided one gets ample sleep, fuels oneself well and doesn't cross the red line, thge more effort you put into life the more energy you'll get back. And running 20 or more miles per day could become a natural way of life for most people who enjoy reasonable health.Why not??

Karl King #3

Jay asked a number of pertinent and interesting questions.

While there are thousands of studies on muscle involvement in running, there aren't many on endocrine system involvement, so we are all pioneers in empirical research on this question.

"Can we throw out the weekly long run paradigm in favor of the "once-monthly" long run?"

I think that the newbie needs to get the stress in small doses so that his/her system is not overloaded. In the weight room, the typical program is to start light and work up to larger loads. Eventually the body adapts, and a large load can regularly be handled with ease. A veteran runner with many ultras completed has built up a strong response to stress and could easily do the once-monthly long run. Endurance is slow to build, and slow to fade. Speed is fast to build and fast to fade. Thus, runners should regularly include faster running in their training. Jay's training ( as I understand it ) looks like a program for a good half marathon, except that it includes a regular endurance booster. Since Jay has run many 100s, his training works well in providing him both speed and endurance.

"At what point does "adequate" stress occur? The body doesn't know anything about long run strategies, whether you paid to run or not ( a 50 mile ultra you paid to run is just another training run as far as the body is concerned ), or how long you intend to run in your next ultra. It can only react to the conditions of the moment. For most runners on this List, the body responds to stress after 3-4 hours of running. Running for 1-2 hours beyond that will trigger endocrine system adaptation. "
In part, this is related to available glycogen. You don't get much of a stress response when your legs are fresh. Part of the stress response is an upward drift in heart rate due to increased adrenalin output. Suppose you're running a relaxed pace in a long run. In the first couple hours, your HR may be low and increase only slightly. When you start to get tired, HR will start to drift up. After an hour of that it may be 15 to 20 beats per minute higher. Now you're in a stress response mode. Run a couple hours in that mode, and you should have "adequate" stress to prompt growth.

People who do back to back long runs on the weekend start the second day with less glycogen stored and get into a stress mode sooner on the second run.

It is a matter of personal preference whether you do a couple back to back 20s or one 35 mile long run. Both ways subject one to roughly the same time in a stressed mode. I prefer the one 35 mile run, but others do well with the back to back version. Suit yourself.

"Would regular 20 mile days be stressful after adaptation to the routine? I've never done anything close to that, so can't speak from experience. It probably would be stressful, but I suspect that it wouldn't be the optimum use of the time. In the weight room one is warned against using exactly the same routine all the time as it fails to prompt growth beyond a certain point."
When Roy Pirrung was training for the Spartathlon, he ran 140 mile weeks, averaging 20 miles per day. However, he cycled the mileage up and down so that his shortest run was only 10 miles, but he did two 30s during the week. Since a competitive runner needs both speed and endurance work, that variation gave him a chance to do both, rather than the same 20 every day.

Kevin Setnes

This 100 prep stuff is all very interesting. I work with a number of people in preparing for distance events ranging from the marathon to the 100 mile. Before, I help lay out a training schedule from them, I always assess the individuals traits/history and then we target a specific goal. Goals, largely determine the workload required.

All of our goals vary. For most it involves finishing. To do that we all must train our bodies to last the distance by doing LONG TRAINING RUNS. Whether it be finishing just under the cutoff of 30 hours or buckling under 24 hours or finishing in the top 10 under 20 hours.

Weekly mile averages depends on the goal specifics. I could train somebody on minimal miles per week (30-50) to FINISH a trail 100 (like AT, Vermont, Umstead or Kettle Moraone). If the goal becomes a SUB-24 HOUR - then it would very likely include more miles per week in basic training - with the the long training run remaining constant. If the goal then become a TOP TEN FINISH - then it will probably require some form of speed training, plus additional miles/week (80-120+).

The LONG TRAINING RUN is a constant staple for ANYONE contemplating running 100 miles. Like Karl said, most of us get tired after running about 3 hours.

We must then extend that tired run portion out another 1.5-2 hours. I use a rule of thumb, that if I have not run an ultra in the previous 3 months, I build up to the point where I get 3 long runs in this state - in the 6 weeks leading up to an event.

Al Howie

Dave Cameron wrote:

Several people have commented that Al's method of running 20 miles per day might be something that the body could adjust to - but then followed up saying that it would not be a good way to train for a 100 miler. Maybe I'm wrong - but even though Al wrote the initial comment in response to the 100 mile training question - he never suggested that this would be a GOOD way to train for a hundred."
Thanks Dave, You're right, I myself was getting confused. I simply believe running 20 or so miles per day, every day would be time well spent. I wish I always had time for this. (Perhaps I should always make it the priority.) My opinion is strongly (like Krishnamurti I don't believe in anything) that doing this (running about 20 mpd) consistantly would lead to a state of extreme well being and a sharpened mind. Once it became the natural state of being, and we're only talking of 2.5 to 4 hours running to get in the 20 miles (surely), then one could add training ie speed work or just stick with the base. And, though I believe this regime would make the runner better (stronger) at any distance; I'm not claiming it to be optimim training for a 100 miler. How could I? My racing interest lies in the still considered 'lunatic fringe' of Ultrarunning: the multi-day! I just know that more often than not the human body is abused, not by misuse, but by a lifetime of underuse!

Mark Dorion

The "Collapse Point Theory" of training was first advocated by Dr. Ken Young (noted ultrarunner, former US record-holder) and others back in the 1970's. Yes, it held that 3 x daily mileage average was the point at which one would really run into trouble (thus, 9 miles a day a good rule for the marathon). Of course there are many other variables and factors, especially as one gets into progressively longer distances. Still, there must be some validity to the Collapse Point theory as before my first 50 miler I averaged about 16 miles per day but with no long run ever beyond 27 miles.

Before my first 100 miler I again heeded this theory and attempted to average 20+ miles a day, including some 170+ mile weeks. Other than the one 50 miler I had still done no runs longer than 27 miles. I finished the 100 miler in 19:12 with no undue effects.

Today, after over 20 years abusing my body with ultras and hard training, I could not imagine doing such high weekly mileage. BUT my point is that "there are many ways to skin a cat." One need not necessarily have run super-long in training to go out and finish 100 miles relatively comfortably.

If anyone would like more specifics on Ken Young's theory (and others like it) I can probably go out to the garage and dig through some old running books and magazines.

Incidentally, does anyone remember Jeff Hagen's excellent series of articles in ULTRARUNNING titled "The Low Key Approach to Ultra Training"? Some of the best-written training pieces on how to run a 100 miler without killing oneself in training that I have read.

Karl King #4

Al wrote:

"Hi Karl, You wrote: - 3. Would regular 20 mile days be stressful after adaptation to the routine? I've never done anything close to that, so can't speak from experience. It probably would be stressful, but I suspect that it wouldn't be the optimum use of the time. In the weight room one is warned against using exactly the same routine all the time as it fails to prompt growth beyond a certain point. Obviously you look at things intelligently and try to pass on good why do you think running 20 miles a day would be stressful when it became a habit?"
Al, "stressful" in this case refers to eliciting a cortisol response. For someone who runs 20 everyday, there is probably some of that going on, but after one adapts, the response is not likely to be very large. So, I'd say there's no big disagreement on this point. Al Howie wrote:

"It's a lot closer to natural human behaviour than the life 99% of us live. And though it may not be the optimum use of one's time it would be a hell of a lot better use of it than couch potatoing or stressing out trying to outdo the Jones's."
No arguement on that one.

Al Howie wrote:

"If I could find a way to pay the bills just running around, promoting something or whatever, I would run in the region of 200-220 miles per week and tone up at the gym for an hour or so almost every day. In those circumstances I would be confident, despite being 53, in my record chasing and as I like to try my hand at creative writing in my head while I run; think I could produce some good stuff in that department."
Hey, give it a try! People usually do well at anything that is a passion for them.

Al Howie wrote:

"But as usual I'm going off at a tangent.........Most healthy human bodies could adopt themselves to running 20 stress free miles a day and I'm certain benefit from what we erroneously consider excess activity."
From the standpoint of endocrine system adaptation, that's probably a fair statement. The Tarahumaras seem to run at a level that is far beyond what anybody else considers normal. Some of the problems we see in some ultra runners who start running high miles is not the high miles, but the lack of adequate rest for adaptation time. Too much stress with no rest will tear down anybody. [ Technical part: cortisol makes cells insulin resistant, blocking efficient cell repair and growth until the cortisol levels fall. ]

Al, I marvel at the amount of miles you can run. And since we're the same age, you provide an example for me. But allow for the possibility that you are very exceptional, and what seems like no big deal to you is just too much for many of us on the list.

Regardless of stress adaptation, the mechanical parts of my body won't let me get beyond 170 miles of running per 4 week training period. When I get near that point, injuries of some sort start to appear. I'd love to be able to do 100 mile weeks on a regular basis, but it isn't in the cards. Maybe if I'd started with better preparation in my 20's and 30's I wouldn't have this barrier now.

Al Howie wrote:

"And the speed work and fine tuning is then added to the regime. (If we want to get faster too!)"

Jay Hodde

I wrote:

"Would 20-miles a day, everyday, offer "adequate stress" to their systems, or would they adapt to the point where the mileage isn't benficial?"
Al replied:
I don't know why nobody (almost nobody) seems to get that if you ran 20 miles a day, everyday, that would become a natural, normal part of your...?
Actually, you seem to be supporting my point, Al. Given enough time to adapt, I'm saying that a 20-mile-a-day stress to the endocrine system would become "natural" and less effective in being a training tool for the 100+ mile distance.

The question I've posed is whether or not such a daily stress become so routine that its effectiveness as a training tool diminishes to the point where the person running 20 miles receives no more benefit than one running 10. At least in terms of theendocrine system.

I know you can argue that a 20-mile-everyday routine is going to yield other benefits over a 10-mile-everyday routine in areas of muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance, etc, AND THAT MAY BE WHERE THE BENEFIT LIES. I'm just curious to know that, since science has not been able to show that one can speed recovery of the endocrine system after it has been "trashed", can the endocrine system be trained to "not get trashed" to begin with?

I posed the question in terms of two different runners, a high mileage runner and a low mileage runner. Let me rehash this:

Let's say that each of these guys gears up for a 100-mile effort at the end of the season. Who's endocrine system will be better trained for the 100-mile effort? Runner #1, whose 40-30 effort every weekend has (presumably) not allowed his endocrine system to fully recover between efforts (based on the 3-week window Karl has presented previously), or Runner #2, whose 20-15 mile effort on the weekend provides minimal stress, but his 100K every six weeks stresses the endocrine system to the max, and allows full recovery in between?

Maybe we should expect no differences, and would find both training programs equally good for "endocrine health". But there are certainly differences in these training programs and it would be interesting to find out which, if either is more beneficial.

I'm not making any judgement on which program is "better" in this regard. I'm just trying to stimulate some thought and throw out some questions.

"My supposedly eccentric training load may be abnormal BUT it certainly isn't 'abnatural' being much closer to the natural lifestyle of the Homosapien than the so called moderate exercise way of life proposed by (so called) Health Care Providers."
I think that there could be a few evolutionary biologists out there who could argue that your training load is 'abnatural', based on the speed of genetic change and human's fondness for the TV remote. You won't get an arguement from me, though :-)

"But my point is that provided one gets ample sleep, fuels oneself well and doesn't cross the red line, thge more effort you put into life the more energy you'll get back."
Said like someone who has really been there! Thanks for the insight, Al.

Bryan Beel

Karl wrote:

"The body reacts to chemical signals; since neither distance nor time are chemical in nature, there must be a more fundamental cause of the stimulus for adaptation."
If you're saying that the chemicals are the fundamental cause, then I'd have to agree. My PhD thesis is on the chemical basis of adaptation. In the case that we study (cell receptor responses to chemical stimuli) the adaptive response comes about as a consequence of chemical concentration as it relates to time (intensity). The cell "sees" a chemical, intiates a response, and adapts. So in some way, time can be chemical in nature if it measures the extent of exposure to a stimulus. This, in itself, is rather off the topic, but if you bring this response idea back to training it only makes sense that your body adapts to time spent working and not miles spent working. Your physiology doesn't adapt to 5 miles but to the workload of that 5 miles. Jay said "I think in terms of distance rather than minutes." It may be nice to think in miles, but I'll bet that if Jay thought about the difference between 5 miles in Indiana and 5 miles in Leadville he might change his mind :-)

For the record, I have been a "time" guy since I moved to Pullman (much hillier than Minnesota).

Karl King# 5

Bryan writes:

"If you're saying that the chemicals are the fundamental cause, then I'd have to agree. My PhD thesis is on the chemical basis of adaptation. In the case that we study (cell receptor responses to chemical stimuli) the adaptive response comes about as a consequence of chemical concentration as it relates to time (intensity). The cell "sees" a chemical, intiates a response, and adapts."
Bryan, thanks. This is the area of my interest! The stimmuli for adaptation to the stress of a long run are probably many. How about dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, amount of liver and muscle glycogen consumed, lactic acid production, ammonia production, etc. To say "time" or "miles" is to forget about other factors that influence the body's stress response. Take temperature and humidity for example. Is a 20 mile run at 50% Relative Humidity and 50 deg F as stressful as a 20 miler at 90% RH and 90 deg F? Anybody who has run under both conditions knows that the latter can leave you fatigued for days.

What I'm saying is that the "time" or "miles" debate is simplistic. It might be more pertinent to think in terms of level of fatigue.

Lydiard decribes a situation where one of the runners he was coaching was to do speedwork at a local track. Runners there asked about the number of intervals, rest intervals, pacing, etc. His reply was that he didn't know; his runner would stop when he was tired and not before. IE, neither distance nor time were important - it was the level of fatigue that was the controlling factor.

Clem LaCava

All kinds of good information available on this list, but in many instances it may only make sense if you know a little about the ultramarathoner who is writing it and like other runners have stated on the list, you really have to find what amout or type of running you enjoy. If you enjoy it, it should work.

For example: Al Howie says downhills can hurt you! Matt Mahoney says downhills help you.

Answer: They are both right!

Without generalizing too much or categorizing anyone too much, from what I have read in Ultrarunner Magazine for ten years and on the net, Al is a multi day ultrarunner. 48 hour, 1000 mile, Six day type races are what he looks for when up for a challenge. Those races usually aren't climbing or descending 1,000 feet per hour every hour of running. Matt, runs 100 mile trail races, mostly out west where you are always either climbing or descending 1,000 feet per hour or so. But, Matt or anyone running mountain trail 100 milers, are usually not running like Al Howie maybe running, when he is running those 1,000 mile, 48 hour, six day type races. Al's legs (knees, hamstrings,etc) are used to a steady, similar pace, mile after mile after mile. But, Matt running mountain 100 milers, his pace and legs are all over the place (trail, rocks, mud, snow, etc).

If you can practice and get used to running down hills fast on trails, it will help you in 100 or 50 mile trail races. And you have to remember that Matt's training is a quite different, than that of most trail ultrarunners. He doesn't have the mountains nearby, to run on a regularly basis. He may be susceptible to injury running 40-50 miles per week, so he figures out a way that works for his particular goals he may have.

For me, I don't run on pavement, except rarely, when I join my noon running friends for a short 5-6 mile run occassionally. The vast majority of my runs are on trails, in the McDonald Forest and I haven't found a route up there, that doesn't gain at least 1,000 feet per hour. But, that's what I like!

Therefore, because that's the type of running I enjoy, the races I run are trail races, usually with a lot of elevation gain and loss. If I tried to run some flat race even on trails, for 50 KM or so, I would probably hurt my hamstrings, because I would be running the whole time faster than the pace I normally train, because there would be no hills to slow me down and force me to change my pace. I found out at Western this year, compared to Wasatch last year, that it's possible to run the whole course. There is only a couple of hills that you'll probably have to walk and you can definitely run the Western States downhills, where some downhills at Wasatch are almost impossible to run. If I run it again, I'll still run in the McDonald Forest, but maybe I'll focus on an area of the forest where I can get a pace going for 5-6 miles at a time and I'll practive running down Dan's trail a little harder.

There was a post a few weeks ago from a runner in Colorado who ran a great race at Wasatch (25 hours +). His training involves a lot of elevation gain and loss, hiking and running. I run like that, but not having 10,000 foot mountains next to Corvallis, my elevation gain is quite less. This year, I will have run approx. 2,500 miles with approx. 400,000 feet of elevation gain (I just love getting to the top of a hill and looking at the view!), and taking about 140 days off.

Other than that rare noon run, I always run for at least 90 minutes. For me, a 45 minute run is a waste of time, I would rather rest, and save my energy for the 90 minute plus runs. I don't think 45 minute runs get you ready for 50 and 100 mile trail runs.

For example, October thru February, I'll run 4-5 days per week. 2-3 runs of 90 minutes during the week, and a 3 to 4 hour run and a 2 hour run on the weekend. I'll increase the long run, later in the Spring, when gearing up for a 100 miler and the total mileage will be between 70 and 80 miles per week.

When Larry Halford and I go out on our 90 minute after work evening run, the distance varies. November through January, we are running with flashlights over sometimes muddy trails in pouring rain. As we get in better shape, and have a little more daylight in February, we are running more distance, but still 90 minutes. By March we are running even more distance. It's not that we are stuck on 90 minutes, its that we don't want to run less than 90 minutes, and it's the evening run, after work, so we don't want to get home too late. But, we figure the 90 minute plus runs prepare us for the trail ultras we enjoy.

The first few years, I attempted trail ultras, I kept running with my noon running friends 4-5 days a week 5-6 miles, but I finally came to the conclusion, it didn't prepare me for the goals I had running trail ultramarathons.

The ultramarathon that I haven't done that interest me Massanuten and Hardrock. Maybe one of these years I can get back there to run them. I still have to finish Angeles Crest, next year!

Is nORM Normal! I have to wonder about anyone, who willingly race directs a 100 mile race year after year after year. Nope, he and all other 100 mile race directors are probably abnormal like the rest of us.

Al Howie

In response to Clem:

I should point out though that although for the last 9 or 10 years I have devoted my running efforts to multi-day races and do most of my training on hills. My favourite is a 700 feet, 2Km monster. Last June I challenged myself and tested my fitness level by doing 31 repeats in about 13 hours! (I admit this is certifiable madness....but so what!) That was 124 kms out and back, up and down with 21,000 feet up 21,000 feet down. I ran every step but rested as I cruised down. Also, I have run 51 minutes 52 seconds for 10 miles, 2:28:11 for the marathon (in 1982, 2 years after taking up running at 34 years of age) and 5:35:12 for fifty miles; quite a different pace from my 5+ mph multi-day pace.

The purpose of this bragging is to demonstrate that when I attempt to help people get it right my experience isn't just limited to a slow multi-day shuffle on the flat!!

Ken Mick

For me, a 45 minute run is a waste of time, I would rather rest, and save my energy for the 90 minute plus runs. I don't think 45 minute runs get you ready for 50 and 100 mile trail runs.

I am on of several low training mileage Ultra runners that utilize 45 minute runs during the week to maintain fitness and "toughness." My regular "Off Season" week usually is made up of (one run a day):

one or two easy 5 milers two - 4 mile Fartlek runs (including warm up and cool down)
one moderate 8 to 12 miler (OK, sometimes just another 5 mile run)
one - 5 to 6 mile Tempo run (including warm up and cool down)
one easy 16 to 22 mile long run
This schedule keeps me tuned up, and ready to increase training mileage to attack most any ultra. Yes, I try to run Ultra distance events every six weeks or so, and have completed all three of my 100 miler attempts: Kettle Moraine, Western States and Wasatch.

About eight weeks prior to an ultra race I'll substitute in some 10 or maybe 8 mile runs for the 5 milers. Decent length (10-12 mile) Endurance Tempo runs simulate race conditions like hills (I live in flat land Chicago) and replace one of my Fartlek days. Each week I still include a 5 to 6 mile Tempo run, a 4 mile Fartlek day and probably an easy 5 mile day.

Some factors that have helped me complete 100 mile races are:

By the way, I run the downhills as hard as possible, safety permitting, keeping one eye on my heart rate monitor.

Clem LaCava

Ken wrote:

"I recommend gradually stepping up through the race distances!"
Good advice!

I've been reading this list for years and I'm amazed at how many runners on this list, after maybe a few races or none, jump right in and start training and running 100 milers. They have a whole lot more guts than I have.

I ran road races for 15 years, and thought about running ultras for the last five of those years, but felt, wrongly or rightly, that before I started running long trail ultras, I needed to find the time to train for them. Of course like my road racing days, I don't run them just to finish!

I agree, get some experience running the 50KM and 50 Milers. Running is fun, you may as well enjoy the whole experience.

Everyone, need not wait as long as I did to start running the trail ultras. Actually, don't wait as long as I did!

But, I sure have a base, and I haven't suffered any kind of injury. Just the normal aches and pains of a 50 year old runner. The rest days are good for me. I'm probably not as daring as most runners, but, with a little luck, when I'm 70 in 20 years, I'll be able to look back and remember 40 years of fun running, the last 25 all on the trails and still trying to keep up with some of you.

Tom Noll

Earlier it was posted that "jumping right up to the 100 Mile race distance would be cheating oneself of the accomplishments at shorter ultra distances" to which I strongly disagree.

Leadville 1997 was the first run of any distance that I ever entered. I certainly do not feel cheated. In fact, I encourage others to jump right in and go for the long distance.

Yes, I had a solid fitness base. Yes, all of my training runs were less than a 100 miles that spring and summer. And yes, between entering Leadville and actually running Leadville I ran three other organized runs as part of my training (Boise Ridge Run, Wahsatch Steeplechase, and the Sawtooth Odyssey), but Leadville remains my first entry.

Some 100s have no qualifying rules. Or, as might be said, "Shorter Races! We don't need to run no stinkin' shorter races."

Bill LaDieu

Much discussion recently has centered around training for 100s and the program designed for Barb by Scott. While I'm certainly no authority, not wishing to be presumptuous, I thought what the hell, the list may be interested in what I have planned for the next several months to train for the West Highland Way Race in Scotland next June (95 miles trail and about 7- 9,000 feet of climb). I'm presenting this as to how a back of the packer plans to prepare for the race to run comfortably and enjoy the experience. All the usual disclaimers apply and remember this is a program I have designed for myself and may or may not have applicability to you. We are all different with different goals capabilities.

To give you frame of reference as to my abilities below are some statistics:

Male age 48
Current weight 182 lbs.
Height 6'-0"
PR Marathon 1983 3:05 at a weight of 172 lbs..
PR 10K 1982 39:20
5 Miles 1983 29:30
Current running:
Marathon: 3:35 1996
50k trail Hinte Anderson 6:05 - 1997
50 mile JFK- 1997 10:42
100 mile 2 DNF's Vermont 1997 and Massanutton Mtn 1998
two finishes Haliburton 1997 29:19 and 1998 28:16.
The program was developed using a book written by Marc Evans Endurance Athlete's Edge, ISBN 0-87322-938-X, published by Human Kinetics. Marc's book is primarily geared toward the multistory athlete but is easily adapted toward single sport folks such as ourselves. Marc's approach emphasizes speed work and distance using periodization. The program that I set up is based upon two period cycles of 20 and 16 weeks culminating with the WHW in Scotland. Marc does not set forth specific programs for different mileage levels but rather provides you with the tools to design your own.

You are probably asking yourself why would I take the trouble to do this and what is my motivation. Several reasons:

  1. I find that I need structure in my running.
  2. I had no clue how to approach speed work other than what I had read in Runners World and other books. Marc provides, in my opinion, a coherent approach to designing and executing a program to build strength a speed, based upon any level of fitness.
  3. At MMT this past spring I dnf'd do to poor nutrition management and most likely poor fitness. I was too fat and to weak to complete the event, I was exhausted and whipped at 55 miles. (Incidentally I like the shirt and proudly wear it. So what if I didn't finish!). Based upon my analysis of the race I concluded that something had to be done to improve my fitness to give me a reasonable chance of finishing a 100 in good shape. I am not interested in doing another death march as I experienced at MMT.
  4. Drop some weight. At MMT I was pushing 190, like I said I was fat, at Haliburtion I managed to get my weight down to 185 and I'm currently at 182.My goal weight is 170 the weight that I was running at in 82-83. Weight loss works out to about 2 lbs../mo.. with the idea of being at goal weight in April or May of next year.

    The program that I devised is shown on the following tables.The following terms are used in the table. Times shown are current training levels.

    BP1, BP2...     Base Preparation
    BT1, BT2...     Base Transition
    R               Restoration
    RP1, RP2...     Race Preparation
    PT1, PT2, ..    Peak Transition
    O2              Aerobic conditioning- 8 and 10/mi. pace
    LVT             Anaerobic conditioning -  6:50 - 7:00/mi pace
    VO2             Aerobic Capacity -  6:10 - 6:20/mi pace
    LAC             Anaerobic Capacity  - 5:20 - 5:40/ mi pace
    For a detailed explanation of terms see Marc's book.

    I am currently doing the speed work at the track once per week.. The LVT are usually 1-2k repeats with a 30 second rest , VO2 800M repeats with a 3 min. rest and the LAC are 400M with a 3: min. rest. I run them from slowest to fastest. Needless to say if you run to your capabilities, whatever they me be, these workouts will leave you spent.

    I try to do my long run on the weekend. Right now I'm doing a 26 miler on Sunday on the AT here in Central PA, slow rocky single trac, if you have run MMT you get the idea. Plan to stay at the one per weekend until the weekly mileage increases beyond 70 miles at which time I plan to double up and do the long one on Saturday followed by a shorter run on Sunday. Most likely start this in late winter early spring.

    This past summer after MMT I used Marc's book and designed a 12 week program to prepare for Haliburton, on Labor Day weekend. In my opinion it worked. I ran strong and had a great time (other than being sick for the first 25 miles - something I ate prior to the race). I have also recovered very quickly and was able to resume training within 3 weeks of Haliburton without missing a beat.

    My assessment is that the program is very ambitious, at the ragged edge of my capabilities and will be very difficult to complete as I have a full life outside of running and must be very careful to monitor myself to avoid breakdown and injury. I have quite frankly never trained at the levels I have scheduled. Hopefully, the increased stress is built slowly enough to prevent injury while at the same time having the desired impact on my ability to run 100s.

    Will I be able do it? Who knows! I'm going to give it my best shot and see how it goes. At worst, I should be in better shape than I was when I started, assuming I don't get injured. I am currently in week 3 and all is well.

            Training Program West Highland Way June 1999
            Avg. Weekly Mileage   55
                                  Program     Weekly
            Wk.     Monday        Emphasis  Periodization   Mileage
            0       9-28-98         BP16    0.82            45
            1       10-5-98         BP15    0.85            47
            2       10-12           BP14    0.9             50
            3       10-19           R       0.54            30
            4       10-26           BP13    0.92            51
            5       11-2            BP12    0.96            53
            6       11-9            BP11    1.01            56
            7       11-16   JFK     R       0.61            34
            8       11-23           BP10    1.03            57
            9       11-30           BP9     1.08            59
            10      12-7            BP8     1.14            63
            11      12-14           R       0.69            38
            12      12-21           BP7     1.17            64
            13      12-28           BP6     1.21            67
            14      1-4-99          BP5     1.28            70
            15      1-11            R       0.77            42
            16      1-18            BP4     1.31            72
            17      1-18            BP3     1.36            75
            18      1-25            BP2     1.45            80
            19      2-1             R       0.87            48
            20      2-8             BP1     0.96            53
            21      2-15            BT6     1.01            56
            22      2-22            BT5     1.08            59
            23      3-1                     0.65            36
            24      3-8             BT4     1.12            62
            25      3-15            BT3     1.17            64
            26      3-22   HAT 50K  BT2     1.25            69
            27      3-29            0.75                    41
            28      4-5             BT1     0.85            47
            29      4-12            RP6     0.94            52
            30      4-19            RP5     1.02            56
            31      4-26            R       0.62            34
            32      5-3             RP4     1.13            62
            33      5-10            RP3     1.24            68
            34      5-17            RP2     1.37            75
            35      5-24            RP1     0.82            45
            36      5-31            Pt3     0.8             36
            37      6-7             Pt2     0.7             29
            38      6-14   WHW      Pt1     0.5             23
            Wk.     O2%     O2 Mi   LVT %   LVT mi   VO2 % VO2 Mi
            0       0.92    41.4    0.047   2.1     0.019   0.9
            1       0.915   43      0.05    2.4     0.02    0.9
            2       0.91    45.5    0.053   2.7     0.021   1.1
            3       1       30              0               0
            4       0.905   46.2    0.056   2.9     0.022   1.1
            5       0.9     47.7    0.059   3.1     0.023   1.2
            6       0.895   50.1    0.062   3.5     0.024   1.3
            7       1       34              0               0
            8       0.89    50.7    0.065   3.7     0.025   1.4
            9       0.885   52.2    0.068   4       0.026   1.5
            10      0.88    55.4    0.071   4.5     0.027   1.7
            11      1       38              0               0
            12      0.875   56      0.074   4.7     0.028   1.8
            13      0.87    58.3    0.077   5.2     0.029   1.9
            14      0.865   60.6    0.08    5.6     0.03    2.1
            15      1       42              0               0
            16      0.86    61.9    0.083   6       0.031   2.2
            17      0.855   64.1    0.086   6.5     0.032   2.4
            18      0.85    68      0.089   7.1     0.033   2.6
            19      1       48              0               0
            20      0.845   44.8    0.092   4.9     0.034   1.8
            21      0.83    46.5    0.1025  5.7     0.045   2.5
            22      0.825   48.7    0.1055  6.2     0.046   2.7
            23      1       36              0               0
            24      0.82    50.8    0.1085  6.7     0.047   2.9
            25      0.815   52.2    0.1115  7.1     0.048   3.1
            26      0.81    55.9    0.1145  7.9     0.049   3.4
            27      0.81    33.2    0.1145  4.7     0.049   2
            28      0.805   37.8    0.1175  5.5     0.05    2.4
            29      0.795   41.3    0.136   7.1     0.0445  2.3
            30      0.79    44.2    0.139   7.8     0.0455  2.5
            31      1       34              0               0
            32      0.785   48.7    0.142   8.8     0.0465  2.9
            33      0.78    53      0.145   9.9     0.0475  3.2
            34      0.775   58.1    0.148   11.1    0.0485  3.6
            35      0.77    34.7    0.151   6.8     0.0495  2.2
            36      0.8     28.8    0.1     3.6     0.07    2.5
            37      0.83    24.1    0.07    2       0.09    2.6
            38      0.825   19      0.06    1.4     0.08    1.8
            Wk.     LAC %   LAC Miles
            0       0.014   0.6
            1       0.015   0.7
            2       0.016   0.8
            3               0
            4       0.017   0.9
            5       0.018   1
            6       0.019   1.1
            7               0
            8       0.02    1.1
            9       0.021   1.2
            10      0.022   1.4
            11              0
            12      0.023   1.5
            13      0.024   1.6
            14      0.025   1.8
            15              0
            16      0.026   1.9
            17      0.027   2
            18      0.028   2.2
            19              0
            20      0.029   1.5
            21      0.0225  1.3
            22      0.0235  1.4
            23              0
            24      0.0245  1.5
            25      0.0255  1.6
            26      0.0265  1.8
            27      0.0265  1.1
            28      0.0275  1.3
            29      0.0245  1.3
            30      0.0255  1.4
            31              0
            32      0.0265  1.6
            33      0.0275  1.9
            34      0.0285  2.1
            35      0.0295  1.3
            36      0.03    1.1
            37      0.025   0.7
            38      0.035   0.8

    Bill LaDieu

    My previous post detailed training program to list on how I (a mid to back of the packer) planned to prepare for the West Highland Way Race (95 mile trail run) in Scotland this coming June.

    The purpose of this post is to provide an update on my training progress and my thoughts as to its adaptability to ultra training. The observations that I have made are for myself and obviously don't apply universally. Remember, we are all an experiment of one. Hope that you find it interesting and that it provokes discussion.

    The program that I set out for myself was based upon principles outlined by Marc Evans in his book: Endurance Athlete's Edge. The book is primarily written for the multisport athlete. I used the running advise and ignored the swimming and cycling. His program uses periodization to build your base, strength and peak for a race.

    As I stated in my original post the training program that I set forth myself, was in my opinion, at the ragged edge of my capabilities and furthermore, I'd never trained a the levels that I had set out.

    The program was basically in two stages: base training approximately 20 weeks followed by a 16 build up for the race. Mileage ranged from 40 to 80 miles with weekly doses of speed work.

    For speed week I am currently doing one tempo work out on the road of about 8 miles - one mile warm up and 6 mile tempo at 7:00min pace followed by a warm down. I do this run on the way home from work. My second speed work out is at the track where a I do a series of 1000 meter intervals in about 4:00 min. followed by 400 meter intervals in about 85 sec. Last week I did 5 -1000 meter intervals and 5 - 400 meter intervals, both with about 2-3 minute rest. The tempo run will eventually peak to about 15 miles and the intervals to 6-1000 meter intervals and 8- 400 meter intervals, about 5 weeks before the race.

    At the same time I'm doing a long runs on the rocky Appalachian Trail once a week. The runs are anywhere between 16 and 30 miles and take between 2.5 to 7 hours to do.

    Once every 4 weeks is a down week where I do no speed work and only run moderate mileage to give my body and mind a chance to recover.

    What have I learned? And how does it apply to my ultra running?

    1. Speed work is well worth the effort. I noticed that in the last two races that I have run the Catoctin 50k and the HAT 50k (on successive weeks with no taper) that I had plenty get up and go at the end of the race. For instance at the HAT, I ran even splits for both loops and felt great the entire run. I was able to blast the down hills and run the flats all day. And best of all a PR better than an hour over last years run.

      In my opinion, if you want to incorporate speed work into your training you must start slowly and do it all the time. Lot of slow training followed by sharpening period of 5 or 6 weeks using speed work is a sure prescription for getting yourself hurt. Your body has to be used to the stress of running fast to be able to consistently do it.

    2. I have to keep a close eye on my sleep patterns. If I have trouble sleeping its a fairly good indication that I am overtraining and that I need to back off. Near the end of February I was pushing it fairly hard and was having a tough time sleeping. Also, I noticed that my interval times were getting slower. Fortunately, a vacation with my wife and bad weather here in Pennsylvania enforced a couple weeks of low mileage easy training. After the rest I bounced back, and was able to run stronger than prior to the rest.

    3. Although I planned to try and run up to 80 miles per week this proved to be very optimistic. I found that with my work and family commitments anything over 60 - 65 was a real stretch. I also found that he quality of training dropped off significantly at the higher mileage levels. I can do the two speed work sessions and the long run, but need the rest in between to recover. The practical weekly mileage limit appears to be about 65 miles per week with a comfortable training level of about 55 per week.

    4. I had hoped that the high mileage and high quality training would help me to loose 10 - 15 pounds to enable me get down to my 1983 racing weight of 170 pounds. This has not happened. My weight when I started was 185 and now hovers between 182 and 183 regardless of what I do training wise. I have not restricted my diet because I feel it is more important to keep my body well fueled and healthy during heavy training. Also, I enjoy eating too much to seriously restrict calories.

    5. I had hoped to do supplementary weight training to build additional strength. This has not happened. I find that given all my life commitments that I just don't have the energy to do the additional work. Maybe next time around.

    6. With 9 weeks of hard traing left all is well and on schedule. Here is hoping that I can keep it together.

    In summary, my training has given me a lot of confidence. Prior to this I had been trying do my ultras on as little training as possible. Although, I finished several races including HAT 50 K 97 and 98, Bull Run 97, JFK 97 and Haliburton Forest 100 miler 97, I also had several ugly DNF's: Wild Oak 50 Miler 98, Vermont 97 and MMT 98. In most of these races (including my finishes) I was on the ragged edge. I would typically get sick, and struggle to continue. For instance, at MMT last year I dropped at 55 miles totally exhausted. MMT was a Waterloo experience for me. I decided that if I wanted to do and enjoy the longer more difficult runs that I had to be in better shape. My TN at MMT and the others, in my opinion, was due primarily to poor fitness. If you are an average guy like me you have to be in the best shape possible in order to run and enjoy a race such as MMT. With the training that I have done and my recent experiences at Catoctin and the HAT, I am confident that I can do the longer runs and enjoy the experience.

    Dave Olney

    Byron wrote:

    "Just wondering about how people run their weekends. I keep reading about back to back long runs, like a 30 followed by a 20. Is this standard operating procedure or are there as many different ways to train properly as there are runners? I am considering a Wednesday 30 and a Sunday 30 instead as this is better for my family. Any suggestions?"
    Byron, I think your age and biomechanical health play a big role in determining your ideal training regimen. The back-to-back long run strategy has the advantage of more closely simulating a single run of longer duration. Doing two long runs in a row also calls for mental resolve, which may be more important in finishing a hundred miler than physical preparation.

    At 57, however, I find that a multi-hour effort often leads to residual injuries (usually hip joint inflamation) that can sidetrack quality training for days, weeks or even months. For me, putting two long runs back to back is just too risky.

    Several years ago I adopted the Wednesday/Sunday schedule you mentioned at the suggestion of Hal Winton (co-RD of the Angeles Crest 100). Hal wrote an article a few years back in UltraRunning titled something like "How I ran Western States on 55 Miles a Week." At least part of his motivation was a busy schedule that didn't allow a lot of time for daily runs, although age may have played a part too.

    His rationale, as he explained it to me at an AC100 training run, was that high mileage leaves you constantly trashed, so that you end up putting in mostly "junk miles." He said he would do two or three hours of hill running at close to maximum effort in the middle of the week. Then on Sunday he would go out for an easy but very long "all-day outing" (i.e., 5-8-hour walk/run).

    The other 5 days of the week, he would either do short runs, cross-train or rest. He felt this regimen allowed him to get the most out of the two long runs.

    Although I was initially concerned at the reduction in my weekly mileage, this approach worked well for me--and has helped to minimize the risk of injury. Spacing the long runs several days apart also helps me to get psyched up and look forward to them. And then, of course, you have one day each weekend to devote to family and other interests.

    Shawn McDonald

    Byron asked some interesting questions about long runs. The plan to do 30 Wed. and 30 on Sun. is ok if you recover ok between. Some people handle it ok, some don't. You don't need to run long runs twice a week to improve, especially when you are new to ultrarunning. A schedule of weekly long runs, gradually building up to runs in the 4-5 hour range (which will likely be about 20-30 miles depending on terrain) will build your base and aerobic abilities. After that point you would be ready to include some back-to-back runs in your program. Maybe the first of these would be 20 miles Wed. and 25 on Sun., adding two miles to each run every other week, with alternate weeks having a single long run of 25-30 miles. The length of the buildup period to reach the back-to-backs (in weeks) will depend somewhat on how much you have been running the past 3-4 months, and your future near and medium term goals.

    Doing long back-to-back runs on weekends is not the rule in ultratraining in general. Some runners do this regularly, some on occasion (often in prepping for a 24 hour run or 100 miler), and some not at all. One of the reasons for doing the back-to-back long runs is to get used to running when tired and stiff, which can be of great benefit late in a 100 miler. When I first trained for ultras, I rarely ran more than 25 miles or 4 hours in training, and never did back-to-back long runs. With this program (of about 40-65 miles per week, with one quality run per week) I ran well at sub-ultra and ultra distances, including 5 50 milers and a 100 miler. After I moved to California I increased the length/time of my long runs when prepping for 50 and 100 milers, and have done a few back-to-backs each year. I don't make a steady diet of them. For the week before a back-to-back I just do a few short runs and take a couple of days off, and then the week after just a few short runs and a little cross training, and take a day or two off.

    As to pace during long runs, I say just run confortably, so you can talk. Pace depends greatly on the terrain and weather. There is no universal rule. If you use a HR monitor, then an effort of 65-70% of max HR is good for long runs. Sometimes my long run pace is 8:00/mi (on roads), sometimes 10:00 (on rolling trails), and sometimes 12:00/mi (rocky mountain trails at altitude), but my effort is within a narrow range. As you get more fit you will be able to stay within the aerobic range at a faster pace than you can now. Also, I would encourage you to mix in walking breaks into your long runs. How you do this will depend on personal preference. I prefer to walk steeper hills and then a couple of minutes each 45 mins. if on a flat stretch. The walking will help a lot in doing back-to-backs and in recovering from long runs as well as making it easier for a consistent fluid and food intake during your training runs and races. Others like to walk on a set time schedule, like running 25 minutes and walking 5 minutes. This will work better on flat terrain. Long runs are really about practicing what you will do in the race. It is much more likely that you will run them too fast than too slow. Start easy, be consistent, and have a plan. Plan and carry out your training plan with the upcoming races in mind, not the other way around. Have fun and good luck with your first ultras.

    Larry Gassan #2

    Recently there have been a spate of posts regarding training for and finishing 100s. Given the memorable pyrotechnic displays of dehydration and near out-of-body experiences at certain races, some List Nutrition is in order.

    There is a desperate need for straight talk on the subject. This is a revised take on a response I made off-line to a gentleman in mid '96. Some parties will no doubt be offended. You'll adjust. The rest of you are welcome to take notes and draw your own conclusions.

    Very few of us start out with a macro-cyclical view of ourselves in the sport. Hindsight suffices for most.

    The rush of the rookie year is intense; you are on fire and nothing will stop you. Any race is fair game. Then things start falling apart, slowly or swiftly depending on your habits and education. Debts incurred in one year may haunt you for weeks, months or perhaps the rest of your life if you are not properly prepared.

    This is my current best advice to anyone considering ultras, and was originally written with AC100 in mind.

    The best strategy in determining which coach is right for you is to talk with people they are coaching, or used to coach. Find out why they stayed or quit.

    Get a respected coach who is willing to work with you as an ultrarunner. Chances are the group workout will have everybody from 10k studs on up. You will learn from all of them.

    Proper coaching will enable you to work on good habits [fluid/calorie rehydration, stride mechanics, training habits] that will enhance talents, and hopefully spot problems and weaknesses in your running style that will limit your accomplishments and yes, joy that the sport can offer.

    There are 3 kinds of coaches:

    1. The Elite Example This method is buttressed and sustained by astonishing, sustained and verified performances. A godly dose of talent, and perhaps humility and compassion. Disciplined also. Generally are open and candid about achievements, education and motivations. The best bet, and in shortest supply.

      Ironically, probably the least expensive because in most cases they are doing this because they LOVE it. And this love is unconditional.

    2. The Religious Mystic
      This method is characterized by some working knowledge, but operating primarily from religious, mystic, or para-psychological methods. Usually no apology for these methods, so be advised.

    3. The Magic Bullet Charlatan
      This method is personified by mediocre achievement, illustrated with borrowed interest, chameleon-coloration and association with celebrities. Vague and evasive in regard to performance and history. An apt description here is "a hollow drum beats the loudest." Do your homework.

    This is the Immutable Law of Running. Ignore it at your peril. A set of blown kidneys will stay with you for the rest of your life.

    Develop a rehydration/nutrition strategy that does not involve eating, but only drinking. The body can do one thing well at a time; either run or eat. This is accomplished by mixing CarboPlex by Unipro with Kern's Mango Nectar. Every 10 minutes, take a pull on the MangoPlex, followed by a hit on water.

    I found it helpful to have a Gatorade bottle for my individual salt/potassium requirements. Other options include various buffered electrolyte combinations, of which SUCCEED is one.

    The point is to keep you from barfing your guts out so you'll be a productive citizen during and after the race/run. Avoid at all costs Metabolol as a *fluid replacement* on a training run or race, unless you want to barf big time. The CarboPlex is a long-chain carbohydrate, and is absorbed as a _liquid_, which means less work for your body.

    A nutrified body makes for a happy brain, and self-preservation is enhanced.

    Find good shoes that fit, which will probably go 1/2 to one size larger as your training intensifies. Cheap shoes are no deal. The EVA in all shoes is gone in 500 miles. When you find the shoes you like, buy as many as you can afford, and rotate them. I buy mine from Roadrunner Sports in San Diego. They have an 800 number

    Get your peak mileage slowly up to at least 80mpw at peak before a taper. Prior to 100s' I'll run up to 135 mi/weekly at peak. Consult as many books and reliable sources as needed. Your mileage may vary, but Idiot Lo-Mileages mentioned on this list [ie 25mpw] is clown-ultra fodder, DNF bait to the max.

    Learn to run back-to-back Sat/Sun runs of at least 25-45mi ea. Ramp up to it. Anyone can hammer out 25 on Sat and fold on Sunday. This is tempting but not productive in the long run.

    Always buy good sox, like Thorlos. Burn every pair of cheap sox in your drawers. Cotton shirts in summer, polypro in winter. Tights in cold/windy/rainy times. A WATERPROOF zip-up rain-top in wet weather. Polypro mitts & gloves in winter.

    You may become good friends with a cap with a neck shade, and good sun-glasses. If you are of Northern European descent, it may save you from heat prostration.

    Get a decent 2-bottle Ultimate waist-pack. The money you spend will save you big over the life of the pack. The others are cheap, they bounce and will eat you alive.

    This means you'll be carrying 1 if not 2 bottles, preferably the mambo 28oz'ers Need more, carry 2 in your hands. You'll adjust.

    Disregard all of the dumb shit you may have seen posted about how hard it is. That is nothing compared to the pain you'll feel when you are dehydrated out in the mountains somewhere miles from anything, sun beating down and its a cool 95 in the shade...

    If you find yourself running with burn-outs, or you are burning out, lose them. Retract, regroup, find someone else. The ideal is someone you are congenial with but stimulated by.

    Finally, being an ultrarunner really does not mean that you can eat anything you want, regardless of what you may have read or heard. It means that you will start making more informed choices about what or what not to eat.

    This means that you can address your spiritual concerns with proper nutrition. Fasting and calorie deprivation are recipes for long-term pain and suffering.

    Bear in mind that the human organism has evolved with 4.6 billion years of encoded cellular information. It is indifferent to transitory social conditioning regarding what is "fat", "proper", "spiritual" etc. It will do *whatever* it needs to assure its survival. And it will cannibalize.

    Sooner or later, shit happens and you'll DNF. There are 101 reasons why; including but not limited to training, hydration, nutrition, weather, route-finding, and the Fine Hand of Mr Murphy. Retreat and come back later.

    However, if you are willing to risk your health and well-being for tinsel, ribbon and pot-metal [aka awards & belt-buckles], then you are a complete idiot. Just make out your will before you start. And make sure you've left a good chunk of your estate to thank your friends for hauling you out of wherever you croaked.

    Keep in mind that most of the postings regarding any of the above range from accurate to ludicrous. Consider the source. Find the author and look for their name in the results. Look up their bio. Activate your own B.S. meter. Draw your own conclusions.

    There it is, like it or not.

    Peyton Robinson

    Well, here's my advice on running 100 miles.


    How to run 100 miles....Start by running a 50 miler....How to run 50 miles ....Start by running a marathon....

    You get the doesn't start off with "just go do it!" You have to plan for it in more ways than it may seem. I still tell people, however, if you can run a marathon and feel good afterwards, you can do a 100 miler. The difference is in pain tolerance and logistics.

    Some general points --

    1. Train to run long. Sounds like a given, but just to make sure we're clear, you must be able to run steadily for 20-30 miles. If you go by time -- which many ultrarunners do in their training -- it is four to five hours of running. That does not mean you must run a marathon (or equivalent distance) every weekend. What it comes out to in reality -- and there's a range here, depending on your goals -- is running your long run at least every three weeks. Some runners are able to do a long run every weekend, and that's great if your body and time permit. But in order to finish a 100 miler, you do not need to do that. You can accomplish a lot of race distance on more modest training.

    2. Train and run regularly. You will need to be running at a minimum 3 days a week, in addition to the long run. You can cross train to make up for the off days (bicycling, rowing, stairmaster, etc.). So that, in effect, you are doing something aerobic at least 5-6 days a week. The running requirement is part of sport specific training. You can workout for general fitness (always good), but to run long, you need to run regularly.

    3. Eat well. Treat your body well. If you are going to run far, you need to make sure the body is well taken care of. So, think good food thoughts. You may want to take multi-vitamins, for example, and reduce sugar consumption. If you are a vegetarian, you can still run 100 milers, but you will need more protein than you would normally use. In anticipation of tearing down your muscle tissue, protein consumption needs to go up.

    4. Learn all you can about ultrarunning. Read Ultrarunning magazine. Join a listserve. Read a book. Volunteer at ultramarathons and watch what others do. Ask questions.

    Here's some more specific advice --

    So, there it is. Some advice on how to do it. As for why, only you can answer that. But at least for me, 100 milers are the best and most fun of all the ultradistances. They can be truly magical.

    Good luck in your training.

    Norm Yarger

    Two points I'd like to make. First, this year I used a 50k event per month to train for the 100. Second, be specific. If the race is on trails, train on trails; if pavement, train on pavement. Also, if the race has steep hills, train on steep hills, etc. I did this before the Arkansas Traveller 100 last year and it worked well.

    I trained in our local state park rather than on the Ice Age Trail which is not too far away from home. I did this based upon the description of the course. Hills, but not too steep. It was just right! Of course if you can do some training on the race course, even better. You can't get more specific than that.