The 100 Mile Ultra Trail Run Starts With One Step

100 Miles Is Not That Far

In less than two weeks I will be at the starting line of the Coldwater Rumble 100 in Goodyear, Arizona. This will be my third attempt at completing a 100 mile ultra trail run and if successful will also be the third belt buckle I collect. Since many friends and colleagues know that I run 100 mile races they also know that I train for them and have begun asking me questions about the race. Maybe the fact that the date is just around the corner is what has sparked this interest but either way answering these questions helps frame my mind for the task that is coming up.

One of the first questions I am asked is:

How Do You Manage To Run For 100 Miles?

It is a fair question especially when you consider the majority of the people asking are not long-distance runners. The folks that are asking the question typically state: I get tired just driving 100 miles so how do you do it.

My answer is simple: I want it.

My answer is complex: I want it so I will do everything I can to make it happen.

The second answer is the key to being successful at running these distances and that means having as strong a mental game as you do physical game. When I am training for 100 milers I will have weeks that are planned out for 50 miles and others that are planned out for 85 miles. Both weeks I approach the same and that is to make the difficult so that I get stronger mentally. The 50 mile week will have more speedwork and the 85 mile week will just be a bear to wake up the next day after having just run 15 miles.

By being stronger mentally I can accomplish any task set out before me. At Lake Martin 100 in 2014 the elements were against the athletes. It had rained for a week prior to the race and the course was nothing more than a mud pit that you had to slosh your way through. I battled the course and the elements to finish in just under 28 hours. It ranked as the hardest race I had completed to date and still holds that title. That race taught me that I can do anything and is something I fall back on quite a bit.

Make your training harder than the race and develop the mental strength to be able to fall back on when the going gets tough.

Tips:

  • Run without headphones for 2-3 hours and just listen to your thoughts, breathing, nature.
  • Run in the evening and then early the next morning on a Saturday/Sunday or Sunday/Monday.

Is Your Approach To A 100 Mile Race Different Than A Marathon?

Without a doubt the approach to a 100 mile race is different. If you think about it, the 100 mile race is essentially 4 marathons and if you approach it as if it is the same then you are doomed before it starts but that does not mean that you cannot take concepts from the marathon approach and apply them to the ultra race distance.

When I register for a 50k, 50 mile or 100 mile race I look at the course and the aid stations. I want to know the distance between the aid stations as well as how many loops the course is. By taking this information in I can process a strategy that will allow me to get from point A to point B and only focus on that one segment.

Knowing this information also allows me to establish a nutrition plan. How much liquid I will need in my hydration pack? How many FlapJacked pancakes or Mighty Muffins will I need at base station? What will I eat at each aid station? Having the answers to these questions before the race starts allows me to focus on the execution of a plan versus wondering what is going to unfold.

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What Is Recovery Like?

This is probably the most difficult question to answer. After each ultra race my recovery has looked somewhat different. After Lake Martin it became a quick focus on getting all the calories into my system that I could handle. After Rocky Raccoon it was about sitting down and allowing my body to rest and that included taking a nap.

Taking an umbrella approach to recovery from a 100 mile race the focus is on getting hydration and calories into my system. I will drink water, without forcing it, while eating simple foods. If I am able to get mashed potatoes I am thrilled because they do not require any chewing and just swallowing (remember it is the middle of the night and you are exhausted.)

After sleeping for a few hours I will start to focus on walking and getting blood flowing through my legs while wearing compression gear. Simultaneously I am looking for healthy fats, lean protein and complex carbs which is typically egg sandwich(es) and waffles/pancakes. I do not want to eat until I am bloated and try to keep the calorie consumption even without peaks and valleys.

The other part of recovery that is important is to go for walks and not runs for the next couple of days. Keeping the blood flowing allows the body to recover much faster than if you were to just lay down all day.

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On January 23rd in Goodyear, Arizona the goal will be to complete the race in 22-23 hours while having a good time with friends. Laughter is always a big help for me mentally and being surrounded by people of a like mind will help with that.

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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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