Running a hundred miles is hard. Running more than one a year brings different challenges. If you’ve managed to finish one race, there’s no reason you can’t do several per year as long as you’re smart about it. The following strategies are how I go about doing more than one hundred mile race per year.
- Start slow. In all things, start slow. My first year, I ran 2 hundreds but spaced them six months apart. This allowed me to fully recover from the first before starting training for the second. I would not recommend more than this when you’re just getting started as the risk of burnout is too high.
- And then add races more slowly. A little redundant, but only because I think the point is so important. I’ve only done 3 hundreds in each of the years after my first. I could probably do 4 or 5 at this point without physical or mental impairment, however my marriage/homelife would suffer. You find sustainability by slowly increasing. And in case you were wondering, doubling is not considered slow.
- Space out the races as much as possible. You read about people knocking out hundreds in consecutive weekends. You’re not that person. I could probably accomplish that if my life literally depended on it, but to what purpose? The races are going to be there next year. Just have a little patience (and if you don’t have patience you may as well stop reading now because you won’t be around this sport much longer). I’ve done two races with 60 days rest between them (Bighorn in June will be my third) and this is a good amount of time to recover from the first and maintain fitness heading into the next race.
- It’s not about racing. The more races you do, the less you can maximize your performance in each race. So times and PRs should be less important than just finishing. And seriously, outside a few people, no one knows what a good 100 mile time is so it doesn’t really matter. Heck, in some ways, a 29 hour finish even sounds more impressive than “only” taking 22 hours to cover the same distance.
- Training doesn’t matter as much as you think. You don’t need to knock out 80-100 mile weeks in order to successfully finish a hundred. The most I’ve ever done in training is about 60 miles and I typically average 40 or less.
- Long runs are most important. If you want to get good at something, then you need to do it a lot. So if you want to get good at running long distances? Well, you need to crank out a lot 20+ milers. You don’t need to do one every week, but 1-3 per month (races included) keeps your body “comfortable” with going long. That said . . .
- Focus on recovery rather than training. You need a base level of fitness/endurance to finish a hundred miler, but once you have that the goal should be recovery in between races rather than training. Keep #4 in mind that the more races you do, the less it’s about performance. So you need to shift your focus from getting all your runs in to taking days off as soon as a little niggle shows up.
- Sleep like it’s your job. The more 100s you run, the more important recovery is. My goal is 8 hours per night and more around my long runs/races. Year to date I’ve averaged 8.5 hours a night so I’m doing pretty good here.
These strategies have helped me buckle three times in each of the past two years. Hopefully, they’ll get me through 2018 where I have three races in four months.
Wish me luck.