100 Mile Ultramarathon Training Program for First-Timers

Training for a 100 mile ultramarathon is a seemingly impossible task for most runners to get their head wrapped around.  Admittedly, these races tend to draw a fringe group of runners, widely considered to have more than a few screws loose.  But those willing to train hard and prepare intelligently will not find a more accepting, helpful, laid-back group of runners with which to develop friendships.  Many an ultramarathon has been saved by the kind words or helpful advice of a stranger when all hope seemed to be lost.  But beware, those who cross over to the dark side rarely return to “regular” running.

Prerequisites

It goes without saying that these races are not for the faint-of-heart.  Ideally runners should have done shorter ultramarathons in the past, including 50 milers or 100k races before attempting this 100 mile ultramarathon training program.  While previous ultramarathon experience is not a requirement for some races, the key to a successful 100 mile ultramarathon is race strategy.  Those with no race experience at shorter ultras are at a very real disadvantage when it comes to spending 24 hours, or more, in a trail ultra. This training program is for those attempting a 100 mile ultramarathon for the first time and starts out with long runs in the 16 to 18 mile range.   Find a 100 mile race about 24 weeks out.  If your current long run is more than 18 miles, simply start the training program at the point that matches your current long run and find a race at the appropriate time.

Race Terrain

There is no such thing as an “easy” 100 mile ultramarathon, but the terrain varies dramatically from one race to the next, and some are less brutal than others.  The Leadville 100 is a race across the sky, run over high mountain passes at altitudes exceeding 13,000 feet, while Lean Horse is run on relatively flat rail beds in the hills of South Dakota. The number one rule of training for a 100 mile ultramarathon is to train in similar conditions, on similar terrain, as the race will be run.  If that is not possible, it is going to be very difficult to train appropriately for the race.  Some gifted runners will cardiovascular mojo to spare may be able to compensate, but most runners will not finish a race under these circumstances.   Move the odds of completion in your favor by selecting a race for which you can train appropriately.

Weekly Mileage

Weekly mileage among ultra-runners also varies dramatically.  Those capable of 100+ mile weeks run them, but most ultra-runners cannot handle that much weekly running without causing injuries.  The trick is to use recovery strategies during training to work up to a long series of back-to-back runs rather than constant, back-breaking weekly mileage.  A peak training week for a 100 mile race might include 3 days of back-to-back-to-back runs of 15 miles, 25 miles, and 30 miles for 70 miles run in those 3 days.  All prior weeks of training work up to this level of mileage for the long run Additional runs during the week are included in this training program and these should be considered a minimum.  Additional running during the week can be at whatever mileage levels can be tolerated while allowing for sufficient recovery for the long runs.  In this training program, the weekly runs are used to manage the total weekly mileage in such a way as to not increase more than 10% per week.  Success in the 100 mile ultramarathon will depend on the long runs, not the other short runs during the week.

Walking

Almost no one can run the entire 100 mile distance.  There are exceptions, of course, and most of those exceptions can be seen holding the hardware at the end of the race.  For everyone else, walking is a requirement and a large part of the strategy involved in these races.  Most ultra runners walk the uphills and run the downhills.  Long flat sections of the course are where decisions must be made regarding how much walking is necessary. Most use a run/walk strategy and it is better to walk frequently in the beginning of the race, even though it is possible to run more.  Every ounce of energy must be conserved so that you can continue to run as long as possible.  Alternating running and walking uses different muscles and lets you go further than either one alone will.  Continue short bouts of running through the entirety of the race, even if you are only able to run for a few yards at a time, or you will be forced to walk exclusively.  If you have not trained to walk 40 or 50 miles…you won’t make it.

Hydration

Hydration is important especially in hotter climates.  The potential for being in the heat for many hours adds to the potential for dangerous levels of dehydration.  Drink lots of water and check the color of your urine to make sure that it is not too dark.  The other significant hydration-related issue is hyponatremia, or an electrolyte imbalance caused by low electrolyte levels.  Drinking only water all day without replenishing electrolytes can lead to a type of “water intoxication”, and possibly death.  Use electrolyte capsules, such as S-Caps, Endurolytes, or Salt Sticks and follow the directions carefully.

Nutrition

Assuming an average calorie burn of 100 calories per mile, a conservative estimate, a 100 mile ultramarathon will burn 10,000 calories in a 24 to 30 hour period, in addition to the calories you would have burned in a normal day.  That is several days worth of food that needs to be consumed in a short period.  Practice eating real food with high calorie densities on long training runs and find out what foods work for you. From a race strategy standpoint, no decision that you make will be as important as what you decide to eat during the race.  One mistake, eating something disagreeable, will turn an already difficult situation into a DNF.  Find out what works and what does not during training so that you have an eating plan during the race.

Long Runs

Long runs for ultra-marathons are broken up into shorter back-to-back runs commonly called sandwich runs.  Long runs are sandwiched together over several days to get in the high mileage while allowing for some recovery and reducing the likelihood of injury.  For 100 mile ultras, 3 days totaling 60 to 80 miles is common.  The distances vary, but these sandwich runs teach you to run with tired legs and force you to use a run/walk strategy, which you will need in the actual race.  Don’t make the mistake of attempting runs longer than 30 miles, as the recovery time for these distances is too long.

100 Mile Ultramarathon Training Program for First-Timers

This plan is designed for those running their first 100 mile ultramarathon with the goal of finishing the race.  These mileages should be considered a minimum for completing the race and running should take place on terrain similar to the chosen race.  The mileages don’t need to be exact…convert them to hours of running at your pace, if you prefer.  Days of the week can be changed as well, just be sure to do the back-to-back runs on consecutive days.   This is a very popular article with lots of good information in the comments, but I feel like it’s getting a little out of hand.  The format of the comments makes it very difficult for new readers with questions to sort out the information contained in the comments. If you would like to ask a question, please ask in the Discussion Boards.  I think this forum for questions and answers will make it easier for runners asking questions to find information and it also gives a chance for other community members to respond, as well.

Tue Thu Fri Sat Sun Total
Week 1 3 6 16 25
Week 2 3 6 18 27
Week 3 3 4 6 16 29
Week4 5 6 20 31
Week 5 3 3 4 18 28
Week 6 3 3 8 20 34
Week 7 5 6 24 35
Week 8 6 6 26 38
Week 9 3 4 10 24 41
Week 10 6 6 3 22 37
Week 11 3 6 10 24 43
Week 12 4 6 10 26 46
Week 13 6 8 12 24 50
Week 14 6 4 12 24 46
Week 15 5 10 12 24 51
Week 16 6 6 16 26 54
Week 17 5 12 16 26 59
Week 18 6 5 18 28 57
Week 19 3 12 20 28 63
Week 20 6 6 24 30 66
Week 21 3 15 25 30 73
Week 22 5 5 12 22
Week 23 6 6 6 18
Week 24 5 3 Race! 108

Hi Scott, I’m pondering the idea of doing my first 100 mi. I just did my first 50 mi, BRR, last month. It was hard to wrap my head around doing 100 mi while trying to make it through my first 50, it literally scares me…maybe that’s the draw? Anyway, the thing (besides the obvious-being upright for many hours and miles) that scares me the most, is making it through the night. Your training plan makes the 100 mi goal look very attainable…would incorporating night runs be a good plan as well? What 100 miler would you recommend for the first time, I’m on the east coast? I hear the Burning River in OH may be a good one. Any other recommendations? I’ve learned a lot from all the questions and answers of earlier posts…I feel so inspired! Thank you! Susan

Susan, Thank you for the kind words.  I hope readers find a few useful pieces of information on the site. It is definitely a good idea to try out some night time running.  For one thing, it involves the use of a light.  You should try out some different options.  Most people wear headlights, but some use handheld lights, or both.  It behooves you to find out your preference BEFORE your race. The night portion of the race is definitely tough, especially the midnight to 2am time.  Mentally, it is tough to keep going, when you still have so far to go, and you (incorrectly) feel like you just can’t go any further.  Pacers can really help get you through this, or if you don’t have a pacer, just fight through it knowing that when the sun starts to rise, you will feel better, much better. Regarding a good first race on the East Coast…I live in the Rockies, and have never run a race east of Texas, so I can’t say. Maybe other readers would like to comment on good first races for beginners on the discussion boards. Good luck, Susan.  Pick a race, commit to it, train for it, and you will do great.
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Hi Scott, I really like this program and thank you for sharing it. I just DNFed my first 100 (C&O Canal 100) at mile 63 and I’m pretty dusappointed in myself. Stomach issues (that started the day before0 and going out too fast on the flat course did me in. I have my sites set on another 100 this September which is about 19 weeks away. I’m also commited to a half marathon next week and two 50ks (NF 6/2 AND Catoctin 7/27)and suggestions on modifying your plan to fit this schedule. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks! Eric
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That is an awful lot of ultra racing…for me personally. I know there are people who can race that much, but I don’t think I could handle it physically. My first suggestion would be to really give yourself some time to rest. Don’t make the mistake of working back from your races, finding where you would be on the training plan and starting from there. That’s a bad idea. Stick with moderate distance (18 to 22 mile) runs, maybe even a back-to-back two to three weeks out from your race. If you are pushing hard on those races once a month…your focus should be on recovery, not trying to cram as many training miles in as possible for each race. For anyone else running their first 100 miler, Eric’s experience is actually very typical. Depending on how fast, or slow, you are, the 65 mile to 85 mile distance in a 100 is the worst. It’s usually getting dark, or has been dark for a while and the morning is many hours away. You’ve been running all day, you are exhausted and you have so many miles left. Your crew is saying things like, “You only have 35 miles to go!”…which just makes it worse. This is the time to really find whatever happy place you can and fight to stick it out until the sun begins to rise. In your mind, tell yourself that no matter how many MILES you have left, it only matters to make it until the sun rises…after that your attitude usually improves dramatically. Another strange thing that I have experienced, and witnessed with others, is that your core temperature drops dramatically when nighttime approaches. You have been shedding heat like crazy during the hot part of the day, and when the night comes and the temperature drops, you will get cold, really cold. Make sure you prepare for it by putting on warmer clothing as the sun starts to go down. Eric, if it’s any consolation, I firmly believe that knowing what you are getting into really helps after the first race. For my first race, which I also DNF’d, I really had no idea what I was in for and wasn’t really prepared for it. Good luck.
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Hi Scott. I have done ultra runs for a few years now in different ways all from 6 hours up to 24 hours, 100k, 50miles. I ran a 100 miler a few weeks ago, i got a cold, so i give up after 110k. About 3 months i will run a 135 miler in trail. The track will be 21 k up and down all the way, in heat.Do you advice to do the most of my runs in upp and down hills, and trail?.I train now at least 100k/week, a few weeks i have done up to 160k-190k.The race is also a 48 h race, maby i should fokus to be stronger,and keep a lower pace, not focus in speed that much?. Thanks//Remy
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If possible, I always try to train on terrain that is similar to the race terrain, so if your race is on trails with hills, I would suggest training on trails with hills, if possible. Regarding speed, I don’t do much speed training. I’m also not a very fast runner…perhaps there is a correlation. Faster runners claim that speed helps. I’m guessing that it depends on your goals. If you have a particular finishing time in mind, I would try to train at that goal pace as much as you can. Hope that helps. Good luck.
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Scott, “The Leadville 100 is a race across the sky, run over high mountain passes at altitudes exceeding 13,000 feet …” You exaggerate the difficulty of Leadville and the altitude. The LT 100 course goes to 12,600 twice, then the next highest part is barely over 11,000 feet (and more a big hill than a true mountain pass). Now if instead you said, “The Hardrock Hundred course is a race across the sky, run over mountain passes at altitudes exceeding 13,000 feet …” then you’d be telling the truth. Todd
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I won’t argue that Hardrock is a more difficult race. I would say that it is the most difficult 100 mile race (that I’m aware of). There is one major difference between Leadville and Hardrock, though. Leadville only gives you 30 hours to complete the race, while Hardrock gives you 48 hours. Another race that is often quoted as being a more difficult race then Leadville is Wasatch, but again, the cutoff is 36 hours, which increases the number of runners who are successful. The difficulty in finishing Leadville is not only the difficulty of the race, but the tight cutoffs. I believe there are runners out there who could conceivably finish Hardrock, but not finish Leadville due to the cutoffs.
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I got up to my 18 miler then did 10 , im in pain so terrible both knees under caps.the pains come # go but im worried i wont be ble to run long distances like this s my race in may 18 my first 6 hour. Suggestions> ?? Im in PT twice week plus getting graston technique .
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That sounds…well, bad. No race is worth injuring yourself to the point that you may not be able to run again. If I were in this situation, I would stop, and restart running again when things were healed…but more slowly. It sounds to me like you need to build up a bigger base of running before embarking on any training plans involving these sorts of distances, but you didn’t include any running history so I can’t be sure. Good luck. Disclaimer: Scott is not a doctor, nor does he play one of TV. Following his advice could lead to additional injury, or possibly death. Also, people may point and laugh.  You are responsible for your own actions.
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Hi Scott Thanks for this training plan. I am running the VT100 in July. I have completed Week 10 of your plan without missing a run. Unfortunately I developed pain in my Achilles last weekend. Went out for a 3 miler yesterday and it is still sore. Any advice for me? I have completed two 50’s and 3 ironman distance tris this will be my first 100 and I am excited for the challenge but don’t want this to stop me! Thanks again for your support! Dave
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It goes without saying, I’m not a doctor, and even if I was, I couldn’t diagnose the issue through the Internet. From a purely practical perspective, I can tell that I have had almost every typical runners injury from the ankle down. Sprained ankles, plantar fasciitis, and tendonitis in a variety of flavors. I have had a diagnosis of Achilles tendonitis and I attempted to continue to run. I iced it religiously and did calf stretches as ordered by my doctor. Unfortunately, it continued to get worse and the only thing that ultimately healed it was wearing a boot for a month and slowly returning back to my mileage. That was my experience, but your mileage may vary. If I were to end up with another bout of it, I would cut back on my running immediately for a few weeks and see how it healed. If it still was sore, I would stop altogether and do some cycling to hang onto my fitness as long as I could. I have been out of running for almost a year because I tried to push an injury for far too long. A poor decision in the first two or three weeks of an injury can lead to a much longer healing time. If you have to cut back and you miss your race…there will be other races. Good luck.
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I just registered for the Grindstone 100 in October. Thanks for sharing this plan, I am going to give it a try.
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No, you are not going to “give it a try”. You are going to follow it and you WILL finish your race. In the process you are going to learn to persevere and do something that most people think is impossible. That’s quite a useful skill, in running, and elsewhere. Eric, I don’t know you from any other random Internet citizen, but if I can do this, I know you can. “Do or do not, there is no try.” -Yoda Good luck. -Scott
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I just want to thank you for sharing this training program. I just finished the Umstead 100 this weekend and yours was the perfect program. What I liked about it was the way you rest during the week, no real long runs, just something manageable. The sandwich runs on the weekend were great to build up confidence and to get mentally prepared for the run. So, if there are any “rookies” like me out there, use this program, it works. Thanks again!
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Tom, Congratulations on your finish. Umstead is not in my neck of the woods, so I have never run it, but I have read that it is as close to the “perfect” first 100 as is possible. Glad to hear that the training plan worked for you. Thanks for taking the time to come back here and comment on your success with it.
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Scott found the article informative and helpful. I am marathoner and I will likely run my last marathon for a while this year (one last shot at BQ Sac International likely). After marathons I want to switch to primarily trail and ultras. I dream one day of Western States 100 but realize that is a ways away to say the least. My question to you is what would be a good race for a first time ultra of a 50 mile distance? Thanks appreciate any sage nuggets you can spare.
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You want to select a race that gives you the best chance for success. Look for a race that is not incredibly difficult. Generous cut-offs are never a bad thing. A race that consists of loops would be a better choice because it minimizes possible logistic mistakes (mispacking drop bags)…you always come back to “home base” where you have all of your gear, food, crew, etc. First race mistakes are likely to be logistic in nature…knowing all of your gear is accessible is important. My first 50 miler was Palo Duro in Amarillo, Texas. I chose it for two reasons: 1) I had been to the state park, so I know the terrain and for a more practical consideration 2) it was close and didn’t require extensive travel. Good luck!
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Hi Scott, At what pace should I run the long runs, at marathon pace or 100 mile pace? Thanks Scott?
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I admit that I don’t pay that much attention to actual pace. I run as much of the long run as possible, whereas in a real 100 mile race, I would NEVER run even 20 miles without a walk break…not even close. From a practical perspective, the pace is definitely slower than marathon pace…considerably slower, but also with more running than I would do in an actual 100 mile race. Food for thought…if you can run some of those late plan back-to-back run at “marathon pace”…is that really your marathon pace? I suspect you’re holding back on your marathons.
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The way I have approached the training is train like you plan to run. So I run at 5mph (really really slow )for 25 minutes then walk fast for five minutes and repeat till the long runs are finished as this is my 24hr pace- I hope!. So a long run could take five hours. Should I abandon this method and just run the long runs without walking? I’m on week 9 of the plan. Thanks Scott
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Running for 25 minutes and walking for 5 minutes is not going to work over the course of the entire race. If you want to try to maintain something for the entire race, I would recommend 5 minutes running and 1 minute walking. It’s the same ratio but much easier to maintain for many hours. 25/5 will fall apart quicker than you think. Here’s how the race “strategy” usually goes for me…and this is not necessarily a recommendation, just personal experience: 1. I will take off running. When I get to about 10 miles, I think, “Oh crap, I haven’t walked yet…I should start”. Even that much running may be a mistake. I don’t know. If it is, I make it every time. 2. I start incorporating some walking, but I don’t want to do it too often because it becomes easy to walk more. Once you are walking a certain amount, you are not likely to walk less…you just end up walking more. I try to fight the urge to walk for as long as possible. 3. Walk more, run less. (cover as many miles as possible before you get to exclusive walking…it’s usually ugly after that) 4. Walk 5. Death march There seem to be two types of ultrarunners…those who can maintain a relatively steady pace throughout the race (whatever pace that is) and those, like me, who fade badly at the end. For me, I feel like I need to get as much running done as I can in the early/middle part of the race, because at some point, I’m going to crater, usually spectacularly. After you have done a race, you can get a better feel for what strategy will work for you. As a first-timer, I would come up with different ratios of running/walking and shift them as the race wears on. Start with 5/1, when you can’t hold that anymore, switch to 5/2, etc. Terrain (hills) can throw that off, though. A funny story, in my first 100, Rocky Raccoon, my running partner and I decided we would follow a strict walk/run ration. Well, we found ourselves running up hills and walking down them, but we soldiered on. Another runner passed us, the first of many: Runner: “You guys realize that you are running up the hill and walking down them, right” Scott: “Yeah, that’s our strategy.” Runner: “Well, that is a strategy. A bad one, but definitely a strategy”. We surprised no one when we dropped. Good luck.
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Scott, It appears I was a lot greener than I thought. Thanks for the advice will let you know how I did in mid July.
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Hi Scott, Thank you for this. I have a 135 mile ultra at the end of July in extreme conditions (45 degrees C, no shade, min. 80% humidity, rocky terrain) http://www.cyprusultra.com/cyprus-ultra-135.html I like your program and plan on using it with some strength training on the off days but how do I add the extra 35 miles in it? Do I just increase the daily/weekly mileage by 35%? Thanks for your help. Ioannis
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My training plan is definitely on the low end of a 100 mile training plan regarding mileage, so a 135 mile race is going to require more mileage. Having never run, or trained for, any race longer than 100 miles, I’m reaching here, but I would probably just increase the mileage by 35%, as you have suggested. Good luck.
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Hi Scott, First, thank you for sharing freely this program and information. In 4 weeks i will run my first 80mile ultra, and so far i have been sticking to your program without any discounts and shortcuts. One thing i noticed, and not sure if i should worry or not, but my pace became very slow, ex; 2 month ago i finished the 23 miles run in 3 and a half hours, last month at almost 4 and today in 4:45 hrs ! It was a very muddy course although. Is it normal ? After so much running i would expect to run faster or at leadt not that slow. Would love to hear your feedback. Thanks in advance, Julien
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I would say that it is normal to slow down a bit as you get into the longest/hardest part of the training. You are adding a lot of mileage to your weekly totals…it is not unusual to slow down a bit. The whole point of the taper at the end of the schedule is to allow you to recover from the last few hard weeks of running and be prepared to run your best race. It sounds to me like you are on track. Good luck.
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Hi Scott, Yesterday i completed the 130km Iznik Ultra marathon in Turkey for which i was training with your great plan. I have no doubt in my mind that sticking to your program made me ready for the race. Thanks again for sharing and being so responsive to all the runners here. Best regards, Julien
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Congratulations, Julien. I always appreciate it when runners who used the plan successfully take the time to come back and let me know how their race went.
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Me and a friend are attempting to run the coast to coast in 7 days – we know it will be a case of walk/run where necessary but will this plan be the right one to get us ready? The longest race we have both done is 56 miles and we are fairly comfortable with fell runs over 30 miles. We know we need to get used to back to back as we are looking at between 10 – 12 hours run/walking a day I think we could do the mileage in this plan, I just hope it’s enough to get us through!
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Atlantic to Pacific coasts? You must be blazingly fast…that’s 2300 miles in 7 days. Good luck.
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Nooooo – we would be super fast to do that! We are in the UK – should have said that so it’s 190 miles in fact!
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Hi Scott: I am a long time street 26.2 runner, but have done a couple of ultras, the longest of which is 40 miles with moderate elevation gain. I am notoriously weak on walking and running UP hills and climbing. As I transition into ultra running exclusively, what would you recommend someone like me do to build strength on the uphill as I think my uphill abilities are weaker than average. Also, I could stand to lose a little more weight. What is a good average BMI for a one hundred miler? Thanks.
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Average BMI for ultrarunners? I have no idea. In my opinion, an average group of ultrarunners will probably be a little older (and chunkier) than an average group of runners, who are not ultrarunners. Then again I don’t see many ultrarunners outside of my immediate running group…I don’t run many races.
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Hi Scott, I am currently training for the Washie 100 miler in South Africa. The course is on the road with long hills. It starts I live here. I have hired a coach and received a training program but I do not think there are enough long runs scheduled My midweek runs are at the most 10/12km – or 6/10 miles. I do have days with short speed work, and hill spurts. Looking at your schedule I am wondering if I should adopt much of what you have. Thank you very much, julie
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Julie, You don’t mention anything about long runs, which are without a doubt the most important factor in a successful ultramarathon. What does your training program say about long runs? The midweek run distances sound fine. I usually don’t split hairs over distances during the week. Your hill work will be beneficial if the race will include hills, so I would agree with that part of the program. In my humble opinion, speed work of any type should be secondary to a solid long run plan. It won’t hurt…unless you are trying to substitute speed work for long runs, or more specifically time on your feet. You didn’t define “short speed work” (how short?), but I just don’t feel like running intervals is helpful for a race that is going to last 24+ hours. Doing a long exhausting run on one day followed by an even more grueling run the next day, will train your body and mind to deal with the type of fatigue you are going to experience in the race. If you are not doing that in training, I feel like it hurts your chances of doing well, or even finishing. Good luck. -Scott
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Hello Scott, this is going back to the issue of where you place the longer of your sandwich runs. I have two LR’s scheduled for this weekend. One 24m on roads, and one 16m through rugged mountain trails. While the mountain run is shorter mileage, the terrain and surface will make it a tougher, more leg-trashing run. Both days are going to be about 200 minutes of running. Would you still advocate a 16/24, or should I stick with my original plan of (easy)24/(hard)16? Thanks!
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Chas, Good call. The idea of doing the longer run as the second run is based on the idea that the two runs would take place on similar terrain. I think it’s clearer if I say that the second run should be HARDER than the first run. If the terrain is tougher on the second day and the time on your feet are equal, I would do the same thing that you are planning…the tougher mountain trails on the second day. I’m in Albuquerque, and we train the same way, some days in the flat, easier foothills, other days in the mountains. The mountain runs, even if they result in the same time on our feet are definitely tougher, both physically and mentally. It sounds like you’ve got a solid plan. I would stick to it. Good luck.
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Hi Scott, I’m signed up for my first 100 in September (Pine Creek Challenge in Pennsylvania) which is “beginner-friendly”, and I have a trail to train on, which is marked every 0.5 miles. The trail is 5 miles long and closely matches the race surface and elevation. My question is whether running distance pyramids (10, 9, 8 etc) to use the five mile distance to build to 40+ mile training runs will adequately prepare me for the mental out and back of an ultra. Thanks for the article and any advice you can offer.
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I think that your training runs will be really boring…a good thing for mental preparation for your race. In my humble opinion, out and back races are easier mentally than loop races. In a loop race, as the race wears on, it is SO easy to not go out for another loop. In an out and back race, you just need to focus on getting to the turnaround…then you are “going home” from that point. It sounds to me like your training trail will work great for your race. I haven’t heard of the Pine Creek Challenge. After going to the site…it looks like a great race. Good luck!

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Hi Scott Nice to find this plan, i have ran a 65 mile race in the falkland islands that was tough and i’ve done some 30+ mile training runs and would like to run more 50+ mile ultra’s and train towards the lakeland 100. Something i have been taught over the years is strength training is the key would you recommend this type of training on the rest days in the above schedule with the max amount of strength days as 2? Regards Mick Burton

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I have trained for races both ways, with strength training, and without strength training. I feel like my races are better when I do strength training on the off days, but it is purely anecdotal. The effect, for me, seems to be that my legs and body don’t hurt as much as the race wears on. I don’t think that strength training will add much to your race from a performance perspective. Well, it has not done much for *ME* from a performance perspective, but I still do it for my “A” races because of the other benefits. I would recommend that you try to adjust your schedule so that any heavy leg work is not done right before your long runs. Try to minimize sore legs on the days that you intend to do those long runs because they are the most important aspect of your training. Also, consider that strength training should complement your run training. If you find yourself in a situation where you feel like your overall training load is too high, cut back or eliminate the strength training, not the running. Good luck, Mick.
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Hello Scott, I’m lucky to have stumbled across this information you have posted above. I just wanted to get your thoughts on a few things. I’m a 30 year old male and I want to possibly enter the Leadville 100 in Aug 2013. However, I do have a few concerns. I live on the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia and my training will take place here. The good part is that there are tons of mountainous hills to climb, but my concern is the temperature. It’s pretty much a consistent sunny and 84 degree weather pattern. My blood will be thinner and will not be acclimated to the colder temperatures of Colorado. In addition, i cannot simulate being at altitude. There is really no way to simulate the race conditions. Do you think I’m setting myself up for failure? I used to live in Pennsylvania and have completed the Rothrock Challenge which is about 20 miles along with some other half marathon stuff. Nothing close to the 100 mile distance. But I am in good physical shape and I understand that it’s a huge mental game with yourself to complete something of this nature. I want to push my limits and go beyond what I think is possible. I also understand that 50 percent of the entries don’t complete the Leadville race but I want my belt buckle and to check this off my bucket list. Any help or suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks. -Mike
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Mike, Leadville is my #1 running goal. With family commitments and such, it is at the worst time of year for me from a training perspective and I have never trained for, nor run, the race. I have paced several runners at Leadville, though, so I’m pretty familiar with the course. Both times that I have paced, temperatures were not cold. I’m sure that some years are brutally cold with snow, etc., but the daytime temperatures for the years that I paced were in the 80’s. Nighttime temperatures were in the mid-30’s. I think temperature is the least of your concerns. Altitude could be an issue, if your speed, or lack of it, will have you cutting it close with the cutoffs. The aggregate effect of altitude is that you will go slower than you will in training…if you have plenty of speed to spare, it won’t be such of an issue for you. In my not so humble opinion, I think Leadville is one of the worst possible first 100 mile races. Does that mean you would not finish? No, but you would be in a select group if you did, especially as your first 100 miler. Here are your biggest obstacles: Logistics – Leadville is a logistical pain in the ass, to put it plainly. You need to really put some thought into what will go into each drop bag, and you will need one for each of the aid stations, because the aid stations are relatively far apart for a 100. Experience pays off in this area, as you have a better idea of what items to place at each aid station…and you won’t have any. Also, the unpredictability of weather means you really should have rain gear, jackets, etc. sprinkled along the aid stations, in case you need them. A crew can help with this by carrying that stuff for you. Oh and for your crew, driving from aid station to aid station is a NIGHTMARE. Tight cutoffs mean zero room for error – The main reason that I recommend an “easier” 100 is that you can more easily recover from mistakes that you WILL make. You will eat something that is going to upset your stomach. You will take off too fast and it will cost you time on the back end of the race. There are so many things that could go wrong. Experience at the distance will keep you from making those mistakes, or if you do make them, give you some idea of what to do about it. Setting yourself up for failure? I would not say that…but the numbers are stacked against you. I paced at Leadville a few years ago and met a young lady, she looked college-aged, who was also running her first 100 at Leadville. After talking to her at the pasta dinner, she had no plan for food, no electrolytes, no drop bags, just her boyfriend to crew her. I just shook my head, knowing she had no chance. The next time I saw her was when she went up to get her buckle. There’s no doubt about it, she was tough, but she was also pretty fast…fast enough to recover from her mistakes and still make the cutoffs. Good luck with your decision, and your race, if you decide to run it.
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hi scott, im hoping to get into the transapline run(over 8days) next sept.i have just completed my 3rd ultra (round rotherham 50)i did no training for this.longest run of 16 miles.and completed in under 10 hours. i run aprox 30/35 miles a week. what advice would you give training/doing a multi day race
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I have never run, or prepared for, a multi-day race. From a training perspective, try to simulate race conditions as much as possible. Sorry, I don’t have more than that for you.
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target date is march 30,2013 at new jersey a 100miles solo run to raise funds for abdulai’s project at sierra leonne , africa, to build houses for 18 families…the goal is to raise $10,000.00 to build 6 houses……tahnk you for this guide of training….sincerely, rainier layug….. p.s. i just finished my 50 miles run last october 27, 2012 at new jersey in 14.3 hours….we raised $2,500.00 for 6 families and 2 houses were build…
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Hi Scott, I completed my forsu Ultra last weekend in the Alps of France. 32miles i clocked it as. I found it very hard. Maybe the terrain was a little steep for my debut Ultra. I finished ok, 149/630 in 9hr 40. I cannot see how on earth i could have ran another 68miles tho. My ambition was to do the UTMB at some point, but i cannot see how it would be possible for me! Is this a common thought process after a kicking! cheers
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It’s probably the most common thought after finishing an ultra…I will NEVER do this again! After a few days the soreness will wear off and you will only be left with the feeling of accomplishment from completing the race. Once you’ve been bitten by the bug, you will almost certainly do more. Also, once you have trained and run a 50 mile race or a 100k, you won’t really get any more physically fit for a 100 mile race…it’s really a battle with your mind to finish. I know that you can do it…but you have to believe that you can finish, or you won’t. I would recommend that your first 100 be somewhat forgiving as far as terrain is concerned (not a hard mountain race), have a generous finishing time and aid station cutoffs, and allow pacers. Also, an experienced crew can work wonders to keep you moving. Good luck…there is no doubt that you can do it…just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
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Thanks for this. I have been hoping to do a local 100mi race (Sulphur Springs near Hamilton Ontario Canada) for a while now, and this seems to fit well with the marathon training I have been working on. Plenty of time to get ready. I also want to fit in a 50k and 50mi race before the 100mi (at the end of May), and was thinking of a 50k somewhere in January with a 50mi in March or early April. Do you have any suggestions on races that would fit in with that? Thank you!!! tim

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