This year I am finally stepping up to the 100-mile distance. My first go at it will be at Outrun 24 this Saturday, April 26th. Then I will run Burning River 100 in early August. It has been my “dream” to run 100s since I started running distance back before surgery in 2012.
Now that I am less than one week out from Outrun and in an extremely boring taper, I have time to sit here and ramble on about what I did to get ready for this insanity.
Originally, I had planned to follow the training plans from “Relentless Forward Progress” with a modification to the prescribed mileage. I wanted to peak at 100-110 miles. As I got closer to peaking though, I became increasingly worried that I would not get an opportunity to run a 50 or 50+ training run, and I decided to attempt 4 weeks at or above 100 mpw with the idea (or comfort, shall I say?) that it would give me that extra little edge. Now, that sounded good, but pulling it off… yeah…
Granted I don’t have a “job, job” per se, but I really do. I take care of my fully dependent child around-the-clock. That’s very literal, mind you. I am up at night every 3 hours to care for him. Just finding time to run 40 mpw can be tricky. A little less sleep, a couple loads of laundry waiting, and an extra hour gets snagged here and there until I banked enough up to chunk into running longer each day. Determination and prioritizing can turn impossible into absolute reality. It helps a lot to have a very patient and understanding spouse!
Here’s what the 4-week peak looked like.
While a lot of the miles in the first 1.5 weeks were slow and easy, the rest of the weeks’ runs included a lot of high-quality workouts when things felt good. I incorporated a lot of hillwork and occasional speedwork like fast finish long runs, tempos, etc. Throughout the 3.5 months of training, I did back-to-back long runs almost every weekend generally consisting of 20-30 miles Saturday, 15-25 miles Sunday and occasionally covering 65+ miles over a 3-day period as well as one 4-day period covering 90 miles.
During my peak, I encountered a lot of new little aches and pains and had to be very diligent about staying on top of them and watching for any signs of injury. Near the end of my peak, I really started seeing and feeling the benefits of running that kind of mileage. Running became incredibly organic and natural. My leg turnover was quicker, and there was no mental decision to run… it was all my body knew how to do for the time being! It did take me considerable time to run this much since it was on hilly, grassy, and sometimes very muddy trail, but in my mind, the more time on my feet, the more benefit I was reaping. I think it is prudent to add that almost all of this mileage was completed on either a .12 mi or .25 mi out-and-back. Yes, you read that right! How’s that for training for a 24-hour race on a 1-mile loop? I can’t even imagine how completely out of my mind my family must think I am now. As crazy as it does sound, for me to run this volume, I had to accept my fate on this out-and-back since it meant simply stepping out my front door and starting my watch. And it worked.
Perfecting recovery and listening to my body during this time was absolutely vital in executing this without ending in injury. I learned this very early on. Never had postrun recovery been so imperative in my training. I followed a stringent nutrient-dense diet, but I didn’t focus much on carbohydrates at all. Considering the volume I was running, I was eating fairly low carb and rarely ever ate on a run unless it was over 4 hours. Immediately after a run, I would rehydrate, eat a bit of complex carbs or Greek yogurt, and wear compression socks to bed and sometimes the only time they came off were for my next run. I feel like the compression socks and sleeves played a very integral part in postrun recovery. Other than those few things, it was pretty simple but always concise. Most runs were done as single daily long runs, but I did chop up a run occasionally when time was tight.
So here I am, just tapering away, having the not-so-fun time of my life, and I have to wait and see if all of this was worth it. Well, worth what exactly? If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you probably know by now I’m not in this to finish. 😀 Outrun 24 was originally planned to be a kicker race for Burning River 100 in August. It didn’t take too long for that to change. Obviously the primary goal is to get 100 miles and a freaking buckle! That alone is going to be a massive undertaking, but I’d practically be lying if I didn’t say that I’m really itching to go after the podium. This sounds insane for my first 100-mile attempt, but I have this belief that if you reach far and beyond, if you believe you are capable of things, you will eventually live it. It’s been said that the people who win and succeed already knew they would without question but were patient and used failures as fuel. In other words, if we are ever afraid to shoot beyond the impossible our fear of failure will manifest that reality and we will be living a self-fulfilling prophecy.
No one will argue that the 100-mile distance is a more mentally demanding challenge than a physical one. Mental… I’m good with that, because I REALLY want this badly and am willing to put a lot at risk to get it. The only question is does anyone else want what I want as bad as I want it? 😀
I want to do and feel something incredibly significant.
On another note, my teenage daughter is running and is hoping to complete her first ultra of 50k. My mother and sister are also flying up to run as well and test their limits. It’s going to be way too much fun! We haven’t all been at a race together since Pensacola in 2012, and my daughter has never run a race over 5k but has done 15 miles in training for O24. My mom’s longest distance to date is 13.1, and I believe my sister’s longest distance is 50k. There’s no telling what kinds of awesomeness will transpire!
Good times! I can’t wait for this weekend to get here!