Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Running a 100 Miler on Low-Mileage Training--Part 2

This belt buckle is a symbol of my hard work to prepare for and successfully run the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Run. It is silver, which represents a sub-24 hours finish (mine was 22:35, basically the race of my life).

It reads:  100 Miles—One Day.  Every time I see it I secretly smile.

I know what is was like cleaning out my father’s and my mother’s personal effects after they passed. So many small treasures, of vast meaning to them, but of unknown significance to me. After I’m gone, I imagine that this belt buckle will not survive either—I know what it means, but probably no one else will know, I mean really know, what went into getting it. And that’s Ok, it’s just the way it is.

Now, on to the promised analysis and context from yesterday’s post.

1.  Annual mileage.  My annual mileage has hovered in the 1200+ range for the past 10 years or so. The past 12 months were higher due to Umstead training, but 1200 is my long-term base.  To prepare for Umstead, I began ramping up a bit in September 2009, at the time the application process opened. I did not get into the race immediately in the on-line entry process, but did snag slot # 51 on the waiting list. So I spent the fall and winter not knowing for sure if I’d gain entry to the race…but training as though I had. That represented a sort of mind game, but I mostly figured that the training would be for real.  I learned at the end of January that I was in, so I had 2 months of "real" training prior to the race.

2.  The monthly long run.  I ran the JFK 50 Miler in November 2009. Then I planned to run a “long run” monthly (i.e., more or less a 30 miler) around the end of Dec , Jan, and Feb. In actuality my long run in Dec was only 13; in Jan I ran a 20, a 25, and a 30; and in Feb I ran another 25. Also I guess I should note that in March I did run an 18 miler with 3 weeks to go prior to the race. So you can see that I didn't really run a lot of heavy mileage.

Also I should say that this winter in southern PA was quite harsh compared to the fairly mild winters we’ve had the past several years. So getting out there for these long runs in the dead of winter, often pre-dawn, was rough. At the end of these long runs I was about done in, although I often think that our bodies are programmed to run the prescribed distance and then mentally shut down.

3.  Normal runs.  My other runs were two or three 6 milers at work at lunchtime. I definitely took planned days off before and after any long runs.  So on a weekly basis I would run only 3 or 4 days.

4.  Lighting.  I made sure to run several times at night using my new Petzl MYO XP LED Headlamp. Having used it, I would be hard-pressed to go back to using a flashlight for anything other than backup only.  The thing is BRIGHT and LONG-LASTING, big time.  See my previous post on this topic, here.

5.  Food.  I've always had a steady stomach in races.  At Umstead I would usually eat 3 quarter sandwiches at each aid station: PB+J, turkey + cheese; cheese.  Maybe a cookie or two, but I didn't go much for the sweets this time.  I did enjoy coffee at night.

I guess that's it.  I should note that I've been running for 30 years, so maybe I've got that "muscle memory" thing going.  Your mileage may vary, of course, but I think this proves that someone can successfully complete a 100 miler on little more than 100 miles a month, without spending their entire life in training.

When I ran the Massanutten 100 in 1998, my training regime was remarkably similar, so we have a least 2 valid data points from my experience.

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