Tag Archives: 100km

Long Run For 100km Trail Race: Training

How to approach the long run for 100km trail race.

There’s an important concept we need to get our heads around. The speed we race a 100km race is relatively slow.

Compared to your 5km or half marathon speed, 100km is run significantly slower. This needs to be remembered when we are setting up our long run training.

How Long Is Long For 100km?

By following some principles we can get to an optimal long run distance.

Long is relative. It begins with a distance near the edge of what you can comfortably run. This could be 10km or it could be 40km. It depends on your training history and current fitness.

If you are looking at taking 16 weeks to train for a 100km race I recommend being comfortable at 25km.

You want to be able to build up to a peak of at least 40km or 4 hours. This will ensure you develop the physiology to go really long. The magic happens after 3 hours.

Referring back to 16 Weeks to 100km Training Plan, you want this peak run to be reached by 12 weeks. We start reducing the length of the long run after this.

Is it worth going longer?

The short answer is… maybe

That maybe depends on your ability to handle the extra distance. If you can handle, absorb and adapt to the extra distance then go for it.

However, any of the following will rule out going further:

  • Carrying an injury
  • Still feeling fatigued beyond 2 days after a long run
  • Recent long runs have a dramatic slow down in their second half
  • You struggle to perform the other key runs

Some runners may benefit from 1 to 4 long runs pushed out to 50km or 5-6 hours. Don’t under estimate the impact these runs have. Make sure you get in some sleep, eat well and focus on recovery afterward.

How Fast For The Long Run?

This is specific for a 100km ultra marathon. When training for shorter distances, it will be a different answer.

Now we get back to the concept that the speed we race a 100km race is relatively slow.

Be realistic. How fast will you really average over a 100km race?

Write the answer down.

Most of your long runs should be around this pace.

Take aiming  for under 12 hours to win the beer stein at Surf Coast Century. Giving 10 minutes buffer, 11hr 50min is a pace of 7:06/km or 11:21/mile. Most people in this chasing this time should be capable of a road marathon under 3hr 40min (5:12/km, 8:20/mile). In this example you want to make sure you are very comfortable at around 7:06/km over similar terrain to the race.

Is There Benefit To Going Faster?

You need to earn going faster.

To do so will require the following

  • At least 2 runs of 4 hours or more
  • Those runs must be completed at around 100km race pace
  • You need to feel comfortable in these runs
  • There is no big slow down towards the end

Going faster is best reserved for the peak phase of training. There are a few ways to approach this:

  • Start at usual pace then gradually and continuously increase the speed over the last 30-60min of run.
  • Start at usual pace then towards the end add 3-4 intervals of 10-20 minutes about 1 minute per kilometre faster than race pace. Take 10 minutes back at usual pace between intervals.
  • Negative split the long run with first half at usual pace and second half 15-20 seconds per kilometre faster.

These options look easier on paper. The pacing discipline required is hard.

Do you have the discipline to get the most from your long run?

Base Training For 100km Trail Race

How do we get maximum benefit from base training for 100km? What is the Base of training?

This is the most important phase of training.

Here we complement the post Training For 100km Trail Race: 16 Week Overview by diving into the details of the 8 week base phase.

What is Base Training?

The point of Base training is to develop a well balanced athlete capable of optimally responding to the stress of competition specific training.

All peak training is dependant on the quality of base training.

Base training is where the majority of fitness gains are made. These gains are dependant on a consistent and progressive workload. This training may not be the coolest type of running. Without it we gives ourselves a higher chance of failure.

Consistency and Progression

If I could pick one element to focus on it would be maintaining consistency.

Doing what it takes to keep up a solid work load each week is paramount. I will back anyone who can put in moderate running every week over someone with a few big sessions but gaps in between.

The biggest killer to consistency is intensity. Beware pushing the pace. Err on the side of too easy and cover the distance. Allow your body to back up training days. Pushing on your limits forces more down time.

Progression in training should come from gradually extending out the running volume over the weeks. Nothing crazy, but keep running further.

Over time your normal running pace is likely to get faster for the same effort level. Let it do so, but make sure it is the same effort level. We shouldn’t be forcing the speed higher.

What About Speed In Base Training?

Speed is an extra in a 100km race.

Too much emphasis on speed work or high intensity running will take away from the race. Especially during base training for a 100km trail race.

We still need condition the fast twitch muscle fibres and connective tissues.

A good approach is incorporating a few strides in 2 easy runs a week. Run for about 10 seconds building to a moderate and comfortable sprint 2 to 6 times.

Strength training should form part of base training.

Lifting some heavy weights will stimulate the tendons and fast twitch muscles. While giving the body reprieve from the high impact of high intensity running.

Keep it to 2-3 sets of 4-12 repetitions. Avoid going for lots of repetitions (20+). Aim to address the main muscle groups and any area that you are lacking in.

Strength training doesn’t have to be complicated. I have more detail in Basic Strength Training For Runnering.

Base Training For 100km Example

The plan versus reality doesn’t always match.

For me the structure of a base training week would look like this:

MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySunday
Long Run 30-42kmEasy 40-90minTerrain Run 3 hoursEasy 40-90minTempo Run 14kmEasy 40-90minEasy 40-90min
WeightsWeights

If you are using this as an example to follow you may want to change around the days. For me each week will vary because I do rotating shift work and don’t follow a normal weekly pattern.

I try to avoid scheduling the bigger runs on weekends as my kids have their sport on these days. There is an element of creativity that goes into finding ways to fit it all in. That is worth a post all on it’s own.

See you in the next post as I break apart more of my training.

Training For 100km Trail Race: 16 Week Overview

16 weeks training for a 100km trail race. How do we structure running to be race ready? What does it take to prepare for a 100km running race?

This is a simple guiding structure to training.

There are pros and cons to the different ways of training. The approach presented here works well. It takes you beyond completing the distance. We want to run 100km fast.

What You Need To Train For 100km

To get the most from this program we need to have some base fitness. At least a year of running, preferably two.

My background spans many years, but over the last year, I’ve hardly run further than 25km in single a run. My weekly volume has varied between 20-80km. It has been fairly inconsistent.

The recommended running prerequisites:

  • 2+ years running
  • Able to run 25-30km long run
  • Averaging 50km/week over last 6 weeks
  • Injury free

More important than physical prerequisites come the mental traits. We need:

  • Discipline
  • Patience
  • Consistency

16 Week Overview

The 16 weeks is broken into 3 distinct phases:

  1. Base (8 weeks)
  2. Peak (4 weeks)
  3. Taper (4 weeks)

Each week will have 3 key workouts supported by easy runs and strength training. The key workouts will vary according to the phase of training.

Base Phase

This is the most important phase of training.

It sets up the ability to cover the distance. A proper base phase will have a direct effect on the Peak phase. We are better off to continue the base phase up to the Taper if we skimped on base training.

Base training is to develop a well balanced athlete capable of optimally responding to the stress of competition specific training.

The most important trait needed is patience. We keep most runs at easy paces. It is more important to cover the distance. Better to run further each week than to smash out some fast runs.

A Tempo run is listed once a week. This should be over one or two set courses. Begin with a pace just a little bit faster than your usual running pace. Aim to be a little faster each week. This should never be a lung searing, leg destroying effort.

Base running is supported by a good dose of strength training. Using the weight room to build improve the connective tissue, and give some stimulus to fast twitch muscle fibres. This should spare the body some of the impact that faster running brings.

The 3 key runs:

  1. Long run of 30-42km
  2. 3 hour run on technical and steep terrain
  3. Tempo

Peak Phase

4 weeks of hard training. We need to be fit, healthy and injury free.

This is where we push the envelope. Where our performance will go up and down. The training will challenge our ability not to quit.

The distance of the long runs will be pushed further. Combined with a few intervals of moderately faster running towards the end. Some fast intervals will also be introduced.

The 3 key runs:

  1. Long run of 46-50km with some intervals 10-20 minutes
  2. 4 hours run on technical and steep terrain
  3. VO2 intervals 4-6 x 1000m

Taper Phase

Time to absorb all the hard work.

The Taper phase has 3 objectives:

  1. Adapt to the previous training
  2. Eliminate fatigue
  3. Dial in race pace

To achieve this we will reduce the volume of the most runs by 75% each week. Intervals will be pushed hard up to 3 weeks out from the race. Fatigue will gradually lift. It is normal to feel sluggish as the body adapt throughout the taper.

Resist the urge to push out a long, hard test of fitness. Save this for race day.

16 Week Training For 100km Example

The following table outlines my progression of the key runs week by week. Which day each runs falls on will vary due to my changing roster and life commitments. In between all running should be easy and the will typically vary between 40-90 minutes.

Remember the following is a personal example and a guideline only. Everyone is different. My own circumstances may vary this plan.

This is my plan for the Surf Coast Century.

WeekPhaseLong RunTerrain RunSpeed
1Base30km3hrTempo 8km
2Base32km3hrTempo 14km
3Base34km3hrTempo 14km
4Base36km3hrTempo 14km
5Base36km3hrTempo 14km
6Base38km3hrTempo 14km
7Base40km3hrTempo 14km
8Base42km3hrTempo 14km
9Peak46-50km4hr4x1000m
10Peak46-50km4hr5x1000m
11Peak46-50km4hr6x1000m
12Peak46-50km4hr6x1000m
13Taper38km3hr7x1000m
14Taper29km2hr15m8x1000m
15Taper22km1hr40m6x1000m
16Taper17km-6-10x200m

Over To You

What do you think about this plan?

Do you have any questions?

Let me know

Surf Coast Century 2018 Relay: Race Report

There is something extra special about the Surf Coast Century 2018. This race has become an annual trip. It is more than just a run. If you want to experience some of the best the running community has to offer, then try out the Surf Coast Century.

Now an annual trip with some mates from work. This year we had two teams in the relay. We hardly even talked about work. That’s a good thing.

Friday was a beautiful sunny Spring day.

 

Mother Nature

 

 

Race day was Saturday.

Cold, wet…. let me correct that…. very wet. Windy, hail with a little sunshine and blue sky mixed in.

 

Start time is dictated by the tides. Unless it’s low tide, some sections on the first leg are impassible. Good news was the race started after the sun had gotten out of bed. A relative sleep in. Bad news for those running the first leg, they didn’t get to experience the amazing sunrise that has made this leg phenomenal in previous years.

 

 

Leg 1

 

 

Running along the iconic beaches of the surf coast is amazing. Rory got to enjoy this leg. He showed his fitness and running pedigree by smashing through the first 10km nice and quick. The slippery and sharp rock beds in the remaining 11km presented him a new challenge. I was impressed he stayed upright. Rory closed down the first leg at Point Danger looking like he pushed it hard.

 

Leg 2

 

 

The changeover was fast. Paul took on the 28km of Leg 2. Returning back to the start across the cliff tops. Straight into the wind. He took off at speed. I wondered if he would hold it or crash and burn.

 

The weather went from unpleasant to disgusting. At the half way mark I waited for Paul to arrive. A short warm up didn’t warm me up. I hid amongst the people hiding under the shelter. It helped me go from freezing to cold.

 

Paul came running in. He was saturated. A fist bump and it was my turn.

 

 

Leg 3

 

 

Wearing only a light spray jacket I wondered if it was a mistake. As the rain fell harder and harder I was wet through. For the first time we didn’t have to crawl under The Great Ocean Road. The river was too high. Finding gaps between the cars instead. After crossing the rain turned to hail. It was at this moment I wished I had worn a cap.

 

In these conditions there was only one way to stay warm…

 

Surf Coast Century Moggs Creek end of leg 3 start of leg 4

 

 

 

… run hard

 

That First Bit

 

On starting the first main climb the rain eased. Still cold, but I was happy little bits of ice were no longer bouncing off my face. Soon enough I was feeling a bit warm. I walked a few steps while I took off the jacket up the steep climb. Then it was on.

 

Mud, clay, water and more mud. The trail so slippery. Up and down, over and over. Staying upright was harder than usual. The clay slid and slipped like crazy. Confidence and technique kept my speed high on the descent. Leaning forward what felt way too far kept my feet from skidding out in front of me. In some sections you could ski on the mud for a few metres.

 

The more I ran the better I felt. My legs were responding well. First time in a while I felt good going uphill. An extra boost came from passing many of the 50km runners who had start about 25 minutes before me. Surprisingly social while racing so hard.

 

After the hills and clay it was time for some flowing single track through The Otways. Some protection was given from the icy winds by the trees and hills here. A mild downhill brings you to the start of a steady 6km climb. It is runnable, especially if you are only doing one leg of race. What got me over this climb was the anticipation of the 3km descent over the other side.

 

Definitely my favourite part of the course. The terrain isn’t super steep or crazy technical, but it requires concentration and confidence. Lean forward, open up, pick your line and fast feet. Down and down in a controlled fall. Weaving through the bush with the twists and turns. I found my flow. This is why I love trail running.

 

That Next Bit

 

Check point time. 21km covered of leaving only 7km for me. It wasn’t so much of a check point for me, more of a boost from the amazingly enthusiastic volunteers and supporters who had made their way out. Extra spring in my legs and into the last section.

 

Each year I forget just how hard this section is. Why don’t remember how steep and long the hills are?

 

Over the climbs I was sucking air. Heading down my legs threated to cramp. Despite this I was able to hold my speed into the check point to hand over to Mick. The hardest part of this was trying to coordinate my fingers to pass over the mandatory first aid kit. They were frozen.

 

Next challenge was trying not to bring up my breakfast.

 

I was successful…. just.

 

Leg 4

 

 

Mick smashed out the final leg. After an almost sunny start to his run the weather came back with a vengeance and threw hail down at him. He returned with stories of runners missing turns and a high tide forcing everyone into the softest of sand. Another solid run.

 

There is something extra to running when it is a team event. It brings out something extra in everyone.

 

 

Thank You

 

The Surf Coast Century is probably the most social of trail ultra marathons out there. Way too many people to mention everyone I met, chatted too, cheered, was cheered by or otherwise had some positive vibes. Still some shout outs are needed. To our other team, Jane, Jerome who were the solid rock of the team. Thank you to Jason who filled in at the last moment. Kudos to Rory from Leg 1 who jumped across and ran Leg 4 for so the others could record a finish due to an extra late withdraw. Extra thanks to my understanding family who tolerate and support me in this running thing.

 

Well done to all those who braved the conditions at Surf Coast Century 2018.