I’m not going to try and profess that I’m an experienced 100km runner. After all, I’ve run one of them! That said, it was a good result. So instead of saying “Here’s what I’ve learnt from experience” in the following paragraphs I’m going to talk about the sage advice I was given in the lead up to making my debut over the distance.
1. Quality Over Quantity
Early in training I had a few of the old guard tell me that I don’t have to worry about doing regular really long runs up to 80km. Instead, focus on building quality, once a week efforts of 40 to 50km, then to get one or two longer hauls in, pick a couple of B races that are on more challenging terrain than the race but no longer than 60km or so. The reason for this is that it allows your body to recover from the rigours of training and means that come race day when you’re moving at a slower tempo you’ll feel great.
2. Eat Early
It’s hard to consume fuel at the best of times when running. It gets even harder the further you get into things. So to get around this the tip is to consume extra calories early on in the race to more or less get ahead of the fuel curve. If you think you’ll be out there for a long time and can stomach solids, then eat them sooner rather than later and then rely on your gels and liquid energy later on.
3. Coke is your Friend
When the going gets tough and you start to really feel the fatigue, don’t be afraid to stop at an aid station for a little longer than normal and smash a few cups of Coke. The caffeine and sugar will give you an instant pick me up that can over get you over a race-ending hump.
4. Apply your Effort Evenly
Too many runners get to the start line feeling fresh and fit, only to go out too hard and fade terribly as the race goes on. The key to a good century is to set sail at the pace you want to finish in, or better still, marginally slower. A good rule of thumb is to run at a pace where you feel like you’re going too slow…It sounds strange, but a few hours later it’ll feel just about right!
5. It’s Not Easy!
Get this through your head: no matter how fast or slow you run, it’s going to hurt. Once you embrace the suffering and come to terms with knowing that you’ll be in relative discomfort for a fair amount of the race, you’ll find you battle with demons a little less. Everyone hurts like hell, from the front to the back of the pack. Believe in yourself and your capacity to keep pushing through the pain and you’ll find a new level of mental and physical toughness you never knew you had.