The step up from running a 100km event to a 100 mile event can be a little daunting, but only if you do not prepare properly!
Before we get into the detail, keep in mind that ‘you’ are the one taking the step. Whether it’s for the challenge; the love of running (or pain); the excuse to train; or just simply to eat more on the run.
Always strive to remain excited, be patient, keep the big picture goal in focus and welcome the highs and lows.
Racing longer doesn’t require training longer
Increasing the event distance by an additional 60% does not require an increase in training mileage of equal proportion.
Instead of trying to hit weekly targets off 200+ miles, focus on what will allow you to continually move forward in the most efficient way possible, during your first 100 miler. Competing or completing a 100 mile race has a lot more to do with nutrition, hydration, race pacing, equipment/ kit, event planning and mental toughness.
The physical preparation for a 100km event compared to a 100 mile event is very similar. Mike Wardian a prolific 100 miler runner and winner of Eastern States 100 mile ‘hasn’t really changed training that much’.
Understand what the change in distance translates to in terms of time on your feet, calories and fluid required, equipment needed and possible mental challenges. With these factors identified you know what you need to be prepared for and your training can be tailored appropriately.
With the right preparation, you will maximise your enjoyment and chances of success!
Here are a few additional factors to consider:
If preparing for a mountainous event try this formula used by Ultra Runner Robbie Britton. Every 1,000m of elevation gain is equivalent to an additional 10km on a flat course in terms of time on your feet.
For an event such as UTMB or the GSER, training for the downhill pounding of 10,000m descent is equally as important as training for the 10,000m of climbing. Including sessions such as continuous hill reps, conditioning the legs through hard downhill and uphill running is specific preparation.
Training on terrain specific to the event provides specific conditioning and mental confidence.
So if the event has river crossings, it’s a good idea to practice getting into the water! But more seriously, including elevation, technical terrain, snow fields or flat pavement where possible will acclimate you for the demands of the event.
Running at Night
Night running is very common place in 100 mile events. If you do not plan on using the moonlight to brighten the trail, it is critical that you are comfortable with your night running gear. Train with a good head torch and your night time running kit.
Running into the night with flat head torch batteries due to incorrectly using the functions sounds stupid, but it happens. Practice!
Strength from the inside out
If you are going to ask your body to do something it has never done before, i.e. something silly like run 100 miles, make sure it is ready to perform in a state of the unknown, both mentally and physically.
Include a diet that is nutritionally dense to aid recovery and keep the immune system strong.
Consider including 2 or 3 core stability, mobility or strength sessions in a weekly training schedule. Having a strong body all around can be a huge benefit in a 100 mile event. When the bodies main supporting muscles gets tired additional supporting muscles are recruited to help keep you moving forward and standing upright. Doing a full body work every week will help build full body strength.
In 100 mile events, the prize typically goes the person who slows down the least, not the person who runs off the quickest. Starting out very easy, is going to pay back in The Long Run.
Follow the 3 C’s- Composure, Confidence, Compete
Break the distance down into smaller manageable lengths, such as aid station to aid station.
The more time spent on race preparation usually translates to less time spent in the race. Having well-organised aid station drop bags or crew will result in productive, efficient and quick aid station stops. This can take hours off your total time in a 100 mile event.
It’s all mental
Dylan Bowman, has placed 3rd in Western States Endurance Run and is the 2015 Champion of Tarawera Ultra 100km and Ultra-Trail Australia 100km. He believes “the only major jump that occurs between 100k and 100 miles is a mental one. If you’ve made it through 100k, your body is clearly physically fit and capable of handling the 100 mile distance. From there, it’s just a matter of mentally embracing the extra mileage and additional challenge of the distance. With that in mind, you have to be genuinely excited about that challenge. If you lack enthusiasm, it will be a lot easier to find excuses to quit. Passion and determination to finish are more important the longer your race”.
Continually eating and drinking is part of the challenge. Go through a lengthy trial and error process to identify what works best for you.
But remember, if you stop putting in calories and fluids, you will grind to a painful halt.
On a final note
Educate yourself from the front line of a 100 mile event. Crew , volunteer or spectate, this will showcase the good, bad and ugly. Learn from other people’s mistakes and use it to aid your personal 100 mile success.