The 100 mile week has always been this impossible idea for me. I’m a 40-50 mpw guy with the occasional peak of 60-65 miles. A hundred miles is elite-level training loads and I’m far from elite. Even though I’ve been running consistently for 8 years now, I’ve always just assumed that that volume of running would get me injured. And it’s not like I know anyone who has done that type of volume either. I’ve only heard about it second or third hand or from random people on the internet. So I had built it up as this mythological beast hidden away on some remote mountain top that I would never get a glimpse of.
And then about a month ago completely out of the blue, I decided to give it a shot while I was on vacation at the Jersey shore.
Sunday – 15.06 miles, 9:15 pace
This was a simple little out-and-back. I ran south out of Strathmere, NJ through Sea Isle City and into Avalon. My wife had mentioned that it was windy and I had run a bit of this section last year so I kinda knew the route a little bit. I didn’t notice the wind early on as it was at my back, but boy did I feel it on my return trip. The buildings in Sea Isle blocked it fairly well but the bridge leaving Avalon and the section coming back into Strathmere were open and the headwind was stiff.
The road was Flat with a capital F with less than 100 feet total elevation gain. This meant I ran the entire run instead of my normal walk breaks on the steeper hills. My legs were definitely feeling it as I was coming in. Heck, my shoulders were even feeling it.
And this was just the beginning.
Monday – 20.14 miles, 9:24 pace
I had originally planned to do seven straight 15 mile days. Then I noticed that my training schedule for June didn’t have a 20 miler on it, which was ironic considering this was shaping up to me my highest mileage month on record. I have done at least one run over 20 miles each month since last November so it seemed a shame to break my streak now. I decided to do 20 early in the week as I had no idea how my legs will feel by the time Friday rolled around.
And frankly the legs weren’t feeling so good when I started out. This fed into a poor mental state which led me to start tracking miles pretty much right from the start (10% done. . . 15%. . . ). Not good. Luckily, they loosened up about 6 miles in as I was crossing into Avalon and I hit a nice flow state. I was feeling so good I decided to scrap my game plan of taking walk breaks every mile after the halfway point. My legs starting getting sore 14-15 miles in, but I pressed on running. When the headwind I had been fighting off and on since I turned back at mile 10 became a consistent 15-20 mile head on gale for the last 2 miles. My legs wanted a break, but my mind stayed strong and I got back without walking. I’ll find out later this week if I won the battle only to lose the war.
Tuesday – 15.07 miles, 9:23 pace
I’m doing the same route each day. South till I hit half my target mileage in Avalon then I turn around and head back. This means the last 2 miles coming back into Strathmere are into this nasty headwind. Even though my legs were pretty tired by this point, I had to smile. This is why I love running long distances. Not to hit certain splits, but to challenge myself against whatever random adversity happens to present itself.
Wednesday – 15.07 miles, 9:04 pace
Blazing fast run today! I’ve been doing all of these runs at the same effort level with my heart rate in the 135-139 range. This morning that happened to translate into a quicker pace. I can only assume it’s because I’m crushing my daily recovery. I’m trying to get about 10 hours of sleep per night. I was a little short of this last night only because it took me an hour to fall asleep. Rather random as it usually doesn’t take me more than about 90 seconds to nod off. Or maybe it was yesterday’s mini-golf game that loosened things up.
Thursday – 15.08 miles, 9:06 pace
Up until about a year ago, I would get over to the local track each month to do a MAF fitness test. After a 15 minute warm-up, I would run 5 miles at a consistent heart rate. The quicker I could do the run, theoretically the better shape I was in since I wasn’t just pushing myself harder. Typically, I was able to do this in the 9 1/2 to 10 minute pace range with 9:13 my best pace. Shockingly, I’ve been quicker than this over each of my last 2 runs, both 3 times as long as my MAF tests. And my average HR has been 3-4bpm lower than I used to target.
Even though my pace here wouldn’t suggest it, I was really starting to feel all 80 of my miles this week towards the end of this run. Surprisingly, my dead legs were still turning over at a decent clip. And I was blessed with the lightest headwind yet as I finished things up. Mentally I’m in a good place and not too burned out though it’s nice to know I only have another 25 miles left.
Friday – 15.08 miles, 8:57 pace
Even though I’m not counting this as official, today’s run put me at 106 miles over the past seven days when factoring in last Saturday’s 11 miler.
I reached the turnaround at a 9:02 pace or about 4 seconds slower than the past couple days. I mentally shrugged but was pleased I hadn’t faded too much as the week progressed. The early miles back were all in the low 9s as well, however it wasn’t until 9:02 flashed across my Garmin for mile 12 that I started to think I might be able to run an even split workout. My subconscious had other ideas though as mile 13 was an 8:49. Then I consciously decided to push the pace a smidgen. Not too much though. I periodically checked my HR, which was about 10 bpm above where I had been running or +/- 150bpm. This led to my fastest 2 splits of the entire week at 8:33 and 8:23 to finish things out. My legs felt relatively good the entire time, which is rather surprising. I really thought they would be giving me a lot more trouble than they have been.
Saturday – 10.07 miles, 9:15 pace
Oof. My legs were definitely sore after my “fast” finish yesterday. And then about a mile in my left calf got very tight for about 5 miles. Eventually it loosened up and I was able to finish with three miles under 9 minute pace. I wasn’t trying to push things too much as I didn’t want to injure myself. But I saved my shortest run for last and at that point I just wanted to get it over with so my family and I could pack up and get back home.
Overall, I’m absolutely ecstatic with how the week turned out. The runs were fun. My pace was quicker than expected. Most importantly though, my legs held up much better than I thought they would. Since I’ve never done more than 77 miles in training before, I really thought my legs would just be completely trashed by the last couple days. Like after a long ultra trashed. But they really didn’t feel too much different than they normally do. I’m chalking it up to some combination of solid fitness base, 9-10 hours sleep each night, no work stress, and completely chill effort level on a pancake flat course. I’m not suddenly going to turn into a 100mpw runner, but it may be something I try to do once a year going forward.
Turns out the beast wasn’t too hard to slay after all. Who woulda thunk it?