I’m going to use a modified version of my Oil Creek training plan for my next 100 mile.  The weekly mileage will run in the 25-45 mile range with a longest run of 30 miles.  There will be two primary differences: lower focus on elevation gain and more speed sessions.

C&O is a very flat race (800 feet or so of elevation gain) so I don’t need to worry about continually running/hiking hills.  But I don’t want to go to the opposite extreme and run no elevation.  I did that training for this race the first time last spring and I think it had a negative impact on my performance.  So I need to do more than the 50 feet per mile gain last spring, but not nearly to the 140 feet per mile leading up to Oil Creek.  Splitting the difference at 90-100 feet is probably the right balance.  Most of my normal running routes fall into this range so I shouldn’t have too much of an issue.

The bigger change for me will be adding speed workouts to my weekly training.  I have never done speed sessions so this will be a big change for me.  And something I’m more than mildly apprehensive about.  I’ve always equated speed with increased injury risk and the last thing I want to do is hurt myself.  I’ve developed a good enough base over the past couple years though that I should be able to do 1 speed workout 3 times per month without much risk of hurting myself.

I’ve settled on mile repeats this cycle to build speed and improve my running efficiency.  I’ll start with a 2 mile warm-up at 9-10 minute pace.  Then do three 1 mile repeats at sub-5k pace of 6:50 with 200 meters of active recovery in between.  I will finish the workout with a 1 mile cool down.  Since I’ve never done this sort of thing, I’m mostly guessing on what paces/effort/distances I should be incorporating into this type of training session.  I’ll see how the first couple go and then adjust things from there.

The structure of the training cycle will be similar to the last couple with 3 build weeks followed by a rest week.  The latter will have no speed or long run and will give my body the time it needs to recover.  I’ve found this week to be more beneficial from a mental standpoint than a physical one.  While it doesn’t necessarily help me to look forward to my long training runs, it definitely helps keep me from dreading them.

The last piece of my training puzzle is tune-up races. I’m currently planning on a 50k in January and a 40 miler in early March.  The January race was initially meant to be a way for me to not lose all of my endurance over the winter.  It now looks like it’ll be more of a shock to my system type event.  I will need to make sure I maintain a low effort throughout so I don’t injure myself before I really even begin training.  The 40 miler is a little early for a true tune-up event, but will be a good gage of my fitness as I ran it last year so will have something to benchmark my time off.  And there’s also the chance the race is pushed back again due to snow.

I’m pretty excited about this training plan.  I’m hoping it will get me to the start line 100% healthy and ready to run 100 miles.  I should be able to execute all my planned runs, however I’ll be willing to cut miles and runs short in order to stay healthy.  My new motto is that I’d rather be 70% trained than 10% injured.  I think you can tough out/run through injuries in shorter races, however 100 miles causes too much physical stress and the body’s compensation for injuries results in additional injuries cropping up.

Do you get excited about training cycles or are they just a necessary evil for you?

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