From your 1st 100 to a sub-24hr 100

Suggestions for training for your first 100 mile ultra and for a sub 24 hour 100: What worked for me.

Kettle Moraine 100 - June 1998
Arkansas Traveler 100 - October 1998
Rocky Racoon 100 - February 1999

Some other suggestions for running 100s. Your goal in your first 100 should be to finish. As Jason Hodde has said, Start out slower than you think you should and walk more than you think you should. Remember that patience is the key, you'll be out there a long time so take it easy and gradually work your way into it. You'll feel really good for those first 20 or 30 miles but don't be fooled into going out too fast, you need a good sense of pace to conserve energy for the later miles.

Choosing a friendly course helps a lot, I doubt I could have run a sub-24 in the mountains. The Rocky Racoon has approximately 66% soft sandy forest service roads and about 33% single track trail. There are hills but none are particularly long or steep. The course consists of 5 20 mile loops so that after the first loop you can run harder than you otherwise might in certain spots knowing a walking break or aid station was coming up. It's important not to linger in aid stations. Get in, get what you need and get out, eating or drinking as you are walking or running away from the aid station. I did spend a little more time at the start/finish area every 20 miles as that's where most of my gear was but otherwise I was in and out of aid stations quickly. It helps to know the course so you know what to expect. I ran the Sunmart 50K in Dec 97 and the Sunmart 50 mile in Dec 98, so I knew the course well. That helped me to stay mentally relaxed in the days leading up to the RR. (I was very nervous in the week or so prior to my first 100, but for RR I was very calm, sleeping well and eagerly looking forward to it).

It's important for a 26-30 hour 100 mile runner to have built up a strong base prior to attempting to go under 24 in a 100. I ran two 100s, two 50 milers, a 50K and paced a friend for 40 miles at Leadville while running a total of over 2000 miles in the 12 months prior to my sub 24. It helps to pace someone on the 100 mile course you intend to try your sub 24 hour 100 on if you are not familiar with the course. I'll be running Leadville in August 1999 but will feel much more comfortable about it having paced my friend there last summer. I'll be in the Western States 100 in 2000 as I've missed the lottery twice and am qualified (automatic entry third time) so I'm going to pace a friend in this years running to familiarize myself with some of the course.

Running 100s is a totally unique experience, very different from 50 milers. You'll be out there for a long time and you'll have to go through the night. You'll have to spend a lot of time planning your drop bags and mentally preparing for the run. You don't necessarily need a crew or a pacer although the anticipation of seeing people you know at aid stations or the company of a friend pacing should not be underestimated. If you can complete a 50 miler in a decent time, in all probability you can complete a 100 mile ultra. Just be well prepared physically and mentally and be patient. 100s are experiences to be savored and enjoyed. You'll hit bad patches and you may struggle at the end but with relentless forward progress you can usually walk through those periods and/or walk it in. And believe me, there is nothing in this world like the feeling of crossing the finish line at the end of a 100. It's a high you'll ride for months. And then, if you're like me, you'll be checking UltraRunning to schedule your next one.

Mr. Jan Ryerse - - 2/22/99

"" (updated: 3/11/99)