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What’s So Different About 100 Miler Training and Racing?

This year we had the fortunate opportunity to coach many athletes to their first 100 mile finish and others to strong repeated 100 mile performances. The 100 mile distance requires the same principles as would be needed for any event, but it also has its own unique training and racing considerations. Let’s take a look!

1. Consistency Over Long Periods

100 mile races should not be taken lightly. Jumping in too soon to the distance or with a limited base of training could result in a wide variety of injuries and most likely a racing experience that might just make you question running ever again. 100 mile races require a serious commitment, with peak volume often at 10+ hours a week. A runner could finish a 5k or 10k with occasional training, but highly inconsistent training for a 100 miler sets up a runner for a DNF (did not finish). More than high volume training though, consistent training over months and years is requisite to take on the 100 mile distance. As enticing as the adventure of a 100 mile race might sound to some, taking a steady, consistent, long-term approach to the distance ensures a substantial base of training to complete the distance. Our Golden Endurance 100 mile runners repeatedly expressed that consistency over the year was essential to their successful 100 mile summer race.

2. Specificity, Specificity, Specificity

Specificity matters in any event, but in 100 mile races, a runner is encountering specific demands for an extremely long period of time. We had several Golden Endurance runners run High Lonesome 100 this year. The race takes place in the alpine Sawatch mountains of Colorado. Our runners repeatedly cited specificity in training as one of the keys to their success. For these runners, incorporating many hours on steep, big climbs and descents, up at high altitude, helped their physiology adapt for race day, but also allowed them to dial in he equipment, hydration, and nutrition that would be unique to this course and race day conditions. Some of these runners attended Golden Endurance’s weekend running camp for High Lonesome, where they were able to train in the most specific way possible, training on course!

3. Make or Break Nutrition and Hydration

100 mile races are sometimes call an eating and drinking contest. Without a sound and dependable nutrition and hydration plan, a runner’s 100 mile race will deteriorate quickly. Learning what products and quantities work in training sets up the foundations for race day. If a runner’s electrolyte and hydration becomes imbalanced, it’s challenging to get back on track during the exertion of tackling 100 miles. Similarly, falling far behind on calories leads to an energy deficit that can be long and difficult to climb out on.

4. Good Problem Solving Required

100 mile races almost never go off without a hitch. Problems will arise. This might be blisters, a rapid change in weather conditions, dependable nutrition that all of a sudden causes GI distress, or a number of rare or unforeseen issues. A good 100 mile runner is a good problem solver. This year’s High Lonesome 100 was much hotter than previous years. Our runners had to adjust their pace, nutrition and hydration, and/or expectations through each section to solve the challenge of the heat and mentally stay in the pursuit. Plan to avoid problems, but also plan on solving them.

At Golden Endurance we help runners of any level and experience prepare for any distance and terrain. Roads, trails, big mountains, pancake flat roads, mile PRs to 100 miles, we coach it all. While none of the above considerations are exclusive to the 100 mile distance, the distance compounds the benefits of well designed training and well planned race day execution. If you’re eyeing a 100 mile distance for 2024, the best time to start preparing for it is now! If that includes working with a coach, then the best time to hire a coach is now too. Feel free to reach out to learn how we can help you prepare for your near and future running goals.

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