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Ultramarathon Training: What I Did for Western States

Posted by on Jun 28, 2011 | 51 Comments

I’m getting quite a few questions about my training for Western States… mostly from the people that were aware of my lackadaisical approach I took.   The race performance did not seem even remotely possible given my apparent training regimen.  Some (Shacky) even accused me of sandbagging.  :-)

For my three previous 100 milers, I took various approaches.

  • For the first Burning River attempt in ’08, I followed Crossfit and Crossfit Endurance religiously.  I meticulously planned every detail of the race and brought a ton of gear.  I DNFed at mile 64 or so.
  • For Hallucination in ’09, I used some elements of Crossfit and Crossfit Endurance, but also started using more functional fitness exercises, hill repeats, and long runs.  I dialed back my obsessive planning a bit and managed to finish somewhere around 29:10.
  • For the second Burning River attempt last year, I did more varied functional fitness stuff based on Pete Kemme’s work.  I continued hill repeats and long runs, but added more adventure (like the 68 mile Kal-Haven run with Mark Robillard and Jesse Scott.)  The result was a significant time improvement to 27:48.

I slowly improved to the point where I was confident I could finish 100 milers, but I was still a back-of-the-pack ultrarunner.  After a strong finish at Burning River last year, I decided to try pushing myself from the start of races.  That was a horrible strategy as it resulted in a bad trail marathon (Fallsburg), a DNF at mile 25 of a 50 miler (North Country Trail), and an uninspiring 50k (HUFF.)

When I was selected in the Western States lottery, I immediately started dreaming of the silver belt buckle awarded to sub-24 hour finishers.  I knew I needed a different approach.  I needed something that would capitalize on my strengths and accommodate my weaknesses.

I knew time would be an issue.  Shelly and I were working at our teaching jobs, preparing to move into an RV, maintaining this website, doing work with Merrell, and spending time with the kids.

I also knew motivation would be an issue.  I hate running in cold weather.  The timing of Western States would require me to begin training in January.

The Plan

“The Plan” is a bit of a misnomer… I didn’t have a plan.  I made up a detailed day-to-day plan, followed it for two days, then lost it.  At that point I decided to abandon the traditional methods of ultramarathon training.  Starting at the beginning of January I did what I wanted when I felt like it.  I didn’t force workouts or runs.  If I was in the mood, I did it.  If I wasn’t, I did something else. This “decision” was actually more like an identity crisis, which I wrote about here a few weeks ago.

I’ll be honest, it was scary and felt VERY strange.  I was barely running or crosstraining.  I haven’t kept a log and stopped running with my Garmin, so I can only estimate my numbers.  According to my best estimates, I averaged around 20 miles per week.  From January through March, that mileage was entirely made up of long runs every other week or so.  I did about 10 crosstraining workouts in March and early April.  I did about the same number of hill repeat sessions.  I ran three races, a 15k (Kent City Ridge Run), a 20 mile flu-laden 12 hour (Mind the Ducks), and a 50 miler at sea level (Pineland Farms.)  I did pack in one week of hard-core running when we traveled to Boulder (~35 miles of mountain running and a 5k)… a week before Western States.  According to the traditional ultra training philosophies, I was severely under-trained.

The Philosophy Going Into Western States

I knew I was under-trained compared to my other two 100 mile finishes.  However, I had the opportunity to test most of the aspects of the conditions I’d face at Western States.  I had a long run that felt great (Pineland Farms), I had run in heat, altitude, and sustained climbs and descents (in Boulder), I knew I had an experienced crew led by Shelly and a borderline elite pacer in Jeremiah Cataldo, and I knew my body well enough to nail caloric intake and hydration.  I knew my gear inside and out.  Based on all of this, I was very confident about my ability to finish.  I even went as far as to discuss the possibility of a sub-24 scenario with Jeremiah.

As far as my approach to the race, I was going to have fun.  Western States is more than a race, it’s an experience.  It’s a beautiful course with some excellent challenging trails, tons of history, and the opportunity to meet a ton of cool runners.  I even decided to carry a camera.  Documenting the experience was more valuable than the weight it added.  If I finished, I’d be happy.  I expected to finish, but would have been okay with DNFing.  If I felt good, I might try to push for the silver buckle.  It wasn’t my primary goal, though.  I didn’t care about the outcome, I cared about the journey.

It was interesting to hear people’s reactions when I told them about my training for Western States.  It was much like barefoot running… it was so unorthodox, most completely disregarded it.  In a results-oriented world, doing anything else is considered borderline insanity.  People had a hard time grasping the idea that self-knowledge gained through experimentation and experience trumps an impressive training log.

I’ll talk about the specifics I experienced during the race, but I made most of the right decisions throughout.  I stayed on top of calories in and hydration.  I wore the right shoes and clothes.  I chose the right gear.  Jeremiah and Shelly did a masterful job of pacing.  My training was dead-on specific to train for 100 milers in the mountains.

The absolute best part of the race- I had fun the entire time.  At different points in the run other runners would comment how they couldn’t wait for the race to end.  I never got to that point.  I was in running nirvana having the time of my life.

I focused on the experience.  The end results took care of themselves.  I’m obviously happy about earning the buckle, but I would have been just as happy had I DNFed.  I would still have been able to spend several days with good friends in a beautiful location while participating in the world’s greatest ultra (based on my experiences.)  No material prize can top those memories.

My new running philosophy is simple- make it fun.  The more lackadaisical approach I take to running, the better I do.  Give it a shot.  Stop taking running so seriously.  Stop tracking your workouts (and posting them on Facebook.)   Stop obsessively working out every single detail of every run.  Ditch the Garmin.  Run for the pure love of movement.  I think you’ll be surprised.  ;-)

 

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51 Comments

  1. Barefoot Running University » 2011 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run Race Report Part One
    July 2, 2011

    [...] The very next day, I did my first workout- a 5 mile tempo run.  The next day was cold, so I skipped the 10 mile Fartlek.  The day after, I somehow lost the schedule.  I’d spend the next six months or so in what would become the lowest volume of running since I started running barefoot back in ’06.  I gave some details in this previous post. [...]

  2. Scooter aka Lavarunner
    June 30, 2011

    Jason cool write up and interesting training philosophy. One that paid off for you. I have always felt that running for the love of running was always more important than the clock. When I start disliking runs for any reason, I’ll quit and do something else. Unfortunately I am constantly asked how fast did you do it, I just don’t care, I am slow and I know it but I am persistent.

    As far as posting on Facebook, I like posting there, I have friends that it annoys when I post runs and that makes it all worthwhile. ;-) I guess I was born a rebel, I will always be a rebel.

  3. Art
    June 29, 2011

    Somewhat by accident I’ve come to a similar training “plan” for a marathon, though it’s a little more intimidating, since I’ve never run the distance before. Your experience at WS gives me some confidence that getting in the specific training (long trail runs) when I can may be enough to get me through a sub-4:00 trail marathon. I guess I gotta go write a blog post of my own now…or maybe just go for a run.

  4. BFWillie_G
    June 29, 2011

    That is a tremendously inspiring post up there, Jason, thank you! I’ve kind of oozed into a similar regimen. I run spontaneously a couple times a week with the dog, generally not sure beforehand how far we’ll go, or even where we’ll run. And then every once in a while I go out for an extra-long run, but not till I really feel the stars converging, so to speak – I do it when I feel like it.

    I feel the approach is like a secret weapon. I’m actually getting stronger now than when I used to force myself to adhere to a “proven” (Pfitzinger, anyone?) sytem / training plan. I’m looking for a 100k race this Autumn and will try one of the two WS qualifiers here in Germany next year!

    • Jason
      June 29, 2011

      Let me know how the races go… I’m really curious to hear from others that use the same principles. I think they will work quite well for anyone other than the elites or brand-new distance runners.

      Good luck at the WS qualifiers!

  5. Zeke
    June 28, 2011

    Great job Jason, I enjoyed watching your progress during the race online. And thanks for this post. My training for next month’s AC100 is strikingly similar to what you describe here. While I know from the seven 100 mile finishes under my belt (most in VFFs and two of those under 24 hours) that I’ve got enough physical preparedness to join with my mental preparedness to make it through the race, it’s still unconventional enough that I get some butterflies a few weeks out from AC. Like you describe, I plan on putting in a good week of trail running just a couple weeks ahead of the race on a wilderness retreat in mid-July. I’m wondering if we’re looking at another paradigm-busting successful approach to running? Tune in a month from now for reports on how it treats me!

    Cheers,
    Z

    • Jason
      June 29, 2011

      Good luck at AC! This is one of the races on my to-do list.

      I really like this routine as it dramatically reduces the risk of injury or burn-out. However, I think it would only work for those that already have a decent endurance base.

      When I first started running ultras, I ran with two dudes that used the same approach and put up good times. I wish I remembered their names, I’d love to chat with them now.

  6. Aaron
    June 28, 2011

    How much did you taper for your previous 100s? I ask because a conventional taper has only made races harder for me the two times that I’ve tried it.

    • Jason
      June 29, 2011

      Aaron-
      First Burning River taper: one month taper, no running two weeks prior
      First 100 finish at Hallucination- three week taper, no running one week prior
      Second Burning River taper: Two weeks, one week of no running
      WS: No discernible taper

  7. Bill McGovern
    June 28, 2011

    Jason,

    You did great at WS. Congratulations on that.
    My take on your vast improvement is the experiences you gained running those first few 100’s.
    You turned your self into a 100 miler Ultra runner.
    Best of luck at your next race.
    BTW, I’m running BR next month. Advice?

    • Jason
      June 29, 2011

      Thanks Bill! As far as BR… resist the temptation to go out too fast on the asphalt. I don’t think I have anything else that you don’t already know. ;-) Good luck! I’ll be there pacing one of my WS pacers… hope to see you!

  8. Alex
    June 28, 2011

    Jason,

    Do you ever feel like because you just had “fun” and did not give it everything you had that you are diluting the accomplishments of the runners putting in the high mileage and long hours who went out to win?

    I pose this question not to be an ass, because your training obviously had its merits for you (shit, you PRed by 4 HOURS and you got a silver buckle). I just find it to be an interesting dynamic when someone who put in 1000s of miles of hardships is looked upon equally as someone who may not have had as stringent of a work ethic. I suppose part of this may be my personal perspective or bias.

    Congratulations on the finish though! It gives the rest of us michiganders hope in one day racing a mountain ultra. :)

    • Rob
      June 28, 2011

      I totally agree. Having a strong mind set and muscle memory will get you pretty far, especially with perfect race conditions and a modified race course that’s running 30 minutes faster than the traditional route. However, think if what could be done with actual hard work and training!!! When I was younger I got by on just sheer natural ability and a strong mind and willingness “to go to the well” when I wanted to. These days I know it takes a lot more work to perform in races the way I want to. It’s a common misconception that hard work in training can’t co-exist with having fun at the same time. This is my whole approach! I have general mileage goals in training but nothing formal or required; just putting A LOT of time on feet is all…

      • Jason
        June 29, 2011

        Rob- My WS experience (training and racing) gave me tremendous insight to what will work for me when it comes to 100s. Using this information, I can now hone my training to go after some performance goals. If I were to run the exact same WS course with the knowledge I have now with slightly modified training and racing, I have no doubt I could knock at least two hours off my time. Hell, I spent an hour taking pictures and chatting with aid station workers in the first half of the race. :-)

        In my next 100, I’ll probably take a little different approach. WS was an experiment and a chance to revel in an awesome experience. It turned out to be a very successful experiment. I can now translate that into some concrete time goals, which I can’t resist doing.

    • Jimmy the V.
      June 28, 2011

      I was stunned when I read the proposition that Jason was potentially making others look bad because of his training. This is an individual sport where one races against one’s own self and ones accomplishments do not diminish anothers.
      Let us also remember that he has run for years and has been running 100’s for four years now. He has put in his time.
      Secondly, he has heart. We all know people who put the timebut never achieve beause they have no heart. They never reach their full potential. That is the most important attribute.
      He says he never had plans to do anything but have fun. Maybe there is some nugget of wisdom in that. Ever go out and slog through a poor workout with a bad attitude? What got accomplished?
      I have been looking into the emotional part of your brain and how that part can “create” energy (often described as will power) allowing individuals to do more than would commonly seem possible. Jason may have stumbled onto something we all can learn from….?

      • Rob
        June 29, 2011

        I don’t think anybody is proposing that Jason made others look bad because of his “lack of training” accomplished the same results as made those who trained very hard. To be brutally honest, sub 24 hours, even at Western States isn’t what it used to be, particularly not this year. That is not considered a “fast time”! When 40% of the field is under 24 hours, almost the same as that at other less difficult 100s that should be a clue. No disrespect, I’ve got a Silver and Brass buckle from Western States too that I’m very proud of, but just breaking 24 hours, especially for an experienced ultrarunner like Jason is should be par for the course not something that should be considered impossible or highly improbable of occurring. Now if he was running sub 20 hours on his training regime he might have something! I know only too well what can be accomplished on pure muscle memory and the amazing ability to endure suffering for long periods of time! I totally agree that we all need to make it fun, but that doesn’t exclude hard work. No short cuts!

        • Jason
          June 29, 2011

          Rob- I think WS has a reputation as being an incredibly difficult ultra, but I think it’s only ranked a “6” out of 10. I have no delusions that I’m a good ultrarunner, but I am proud to have finished in the top 40%. I think I’ve finished in the bottom quarter of every other ultra I’ve run. This is a big personal victory. :-)

          Now sub-20… I think that might be the goal I work towards for next year.

          • Rob
            June 29, 2011

            WS has the reputation to be sure, but in all honestly it’s pretty low in the “mountain 100s” rankings in terms of difficulty. The trails, while very beautiful and awe inspiring, are fairly sanitized and non-technical. One only has to look at the impressive times people post on the course to realize that this is NOT a difficult course. It’s a good first mountain 100 for sure, and it’s storied history makes it a must-do for sure. But it is not a difficult mountain 100. I can recommend quite a few difficult ones though… ;)

      • Jason
        June 29, 2011

        Thanks Jimmy! You’re right, the whole “having fun” thing serves a real utilitarian purpose. I can train a lot harder when I enjoy the training. Same deal with racing. Part of what made WS magical was the awesomeness of running in mountains. I derive tremendous intrinsic joy from that, which translates into much better performance. It was much easier hiking up Devil’s Thumb than it was slogging along those asphalt roads at Burning River.

        Interestingly, I felt it took much more heart for me to finish Hallucination and Burning River. Those races were hard, I was in pain, and it took a lot of mental fortitude to not quit. Western was an entirely different experience. I loved every second, had only one minor low point, and could have kept running indefinitely. As I mentioned earlier, that was my own personal victory- running 100 miles and enjoying every second.

        BTW- when are you running your next one? :-)

        • Jimmy the V.
          June 29, 2011

          I’m hoping to run 100m at Hinson lake 24 hour in September….. with a smile the whole time!! Congrats again.
          We watched you cross the finish line!! You looked like you just ran a 10k!!!

    • Jason
      June 29, 2011

      Alex- I don’t think my “have fun” outlook dilutes the accomplishments of the horses that finish at the front of the pack. There’s a pretty big divide between Journet, Wolfe, et. al. and myself. I can’t imagine they care about the training methodology of someone that finishes over eight hours after they do. If they do, I’d guess they are feeling some serios cognitive dissonance over their over-investment in their own training.

      As far as being looked at equally, I also don’t think anyone would put me on the same level of any top runner. Hell, I don’t feel comfortable being lumped in with the mid-packers. :-)

      My experience with running is strictly personal. I do what I do for my own self-satisfaction. I don’t care to compete with others. I also don’t like comparing myself to others. One of my favorite all-time quotes is by George Sheehan:

      “It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”

      My personal victory at Western States had to do with the feeling of making huge progress in figuring out 100 milers. My previous 100 milers did not go well, I was in significant pain and recovery took forever. I wanted to quit many times after about mile 40. At Western, I felt amazing the entire time. I didn’t want to finish because I didn’t want to experience to end. For me, THAT is the victory. Again, it’s very personal and I don’t expect everyone to get it.

      For the record- I have put in 1000’s of miles in the past and done stuff like run an out-and-back on the Kal-Haven. I’m not a stranger to hardship. That’s how I got the endurance base to run 100’s in the first place. ;-)

      • Rob
        June 29, 2011

        Yep, and sometimes no matter how much or how little training you put in, it all comes down what kind of day you have. That’s basically my conclusion after 20 years of running, 16 doing ultras including 100 milers. I’ve trained very hard and had horrible races, I’ve been vastly undertrained and had awesome races. I’ve even had some magical races where I’ve trained hard and everything went perfectly (nearly so) on race day. Jason, you had a magical day at WS no doubt… it is indeed a very special feeling and one that you don’t want to end. I had a similar feeling at the end of my ’02 WS, ’08 Hardrock and last year completing my speed hike of the Pinhoti Trail. These were almost zen like moments! I’m hoping for another in less than two weeks at Badwater!

        • Jason
          June 29, 2011

          Rob- my “experimenting” goal is an attempt to figure out what leads to the good days. So far this year, I’ve had two good races following the same routine. My hope is that I’m getting closer to figuring out how to make the vast majority “good” runs.

          Good luck at Badwater!

  9. Nora
    June 28, 2011

    I could take quite a few lessons from you! I really need to ditch that GARMIN! You are amazing!!

  10. Paul Mastin
    June 28, 2011

    This is an inspiring post, as is your WS finish, but I just don’t think I can take the same approach. My over-40 body just doesn’t want to go that far unless I get the miles in. I’ve finished 3 50Ms and several shorter ultras, and I can tell that if I don’t have a good base of lots of miles I struggle. Another poster mentioned Fitzgerald’s mind-body running book. I think he’d say your confidence made the difference: confident in your gear, your pacers, your body’s signals. Maybe my confidence comes more from knowing I’ve logged the miles in the months leading up to the race. In any case, congratulations on the super finish! Come down to Texas sometime on your journeys (although now is not the time–it’s way too hot!).

    • Jason
      June 29, 2011

      Paul- I should have mentioned this in the original post, but I have a pretty good base over the last five years where I did put up high training miles. That allowed me to do long runs to maintain the base with occasional long runs without having to put up high weekly mileage.

      You’re right about the confidence… I had little doubts about finishing. When I got to mile 50 and felt awesome, I knew I had enough in the tank to hammer the last half to have a decent chance at buckling.

      FYI- I’m in Houston right now! Unfortunately I will be flying out in a few hours. We’ll be back in December, though.

  11. Angie Bee
    June 28, 2011

    that was my philosophy for Mind the Ducks. I had done a few 15 mile runs but that was it for about 3 months prior to the race. I was really well rested for the race :)

    • Jason
      June 29, 2011

      And you did great at MTD! A good taper can be magical. :-)

  12. KittyK
    June 28, 2011

    :D

  13. Brandon
    June 28, 2011

    Not to be a buzzkill (and not that I’m winning any races or running ultras either!) but for some people a lot of the fun IS logging all their runs and seeing their progress and/or pushing their body to the limits, even if it means temporary pain (some people even enjoy that!) I agree that you should have some enjoyment to running though or maybe it’s time to take up a new hobby. To each his/her own :-)

    • Angie Bee
      June 28, 2011

      I must say I do like to collect my miles but don’t have a schedule to collect them. That is fun to see where I am going based on where I have been.

      • Brandon
        June 28, 2011

        I hear that. I’m usually the same way, but as I try to get my first marathon under my belt, this year is the first that I’m actually following a plan. I can’t complain about it either, as there is some fun in the plan due to mixing things up and doing types of runs that I wasn’t doing on my own (intervals, etc.)

        • Jason
          June 29, 2011

          Angie- I’m not necessarily anti-high mileage… I’ll happily put up big numbers if I have sweet trails to run. It is cool seeing the progression, though.

          Brandon- Following a plan is a great way to develop a base. I’m not sure if my “run for fun” methods would work for a newer runner. I followed a plan for my first two marathons and 50 miler, and kinda followed a plan for my first three hundreds.

          • Brandon
            June 30, 2011

            I just started thinking about that and have to agree. Newer runners looking to run their first 5k or marathon may have to follow a plan just to get them into some kind of shape to succeed. But for runners in your category I can see where your style of training would work. Once I get my first marathon under my belt we’ll see if I start transitioning to your style of training :-)

    • Jason
      June 29, 2011

      Brandon- agreed. In fact, sometimes I do just that. When Shelly and I went to Boulder, it was INCREDIBLY difficult not to run up and down those mountains four or five times per day. If WS were not a week away, I would have done just that.

      I understand the joy of logging miles. Back in the day, I not only logged miles but also made graphs and charts. The biggest reasons I stopped- it took too much time and work and it was hard to resist overtraining or running while injured because I couldn’t stand seeing that graph plummet.

  14. Kai
    June 28, 2011

    Nice! I don’t use training plans. Sometimes I’ll have a rough plan for the week in my mind but I’ll throw it out the window on a whim. Have you read “RUN: The mind body method of running by feel” by Matt Fitzgerald. He talks a lot about why this kind of training works and how it’s critical that the athlete enjoys the process and loves what he’s doing.

    • Jason
      June 29, 2011

      Kai- I have no read it, but agree with the concept. I have a bit of a background in sport psychology and am always aware of the prospect of burn-out. This is one of the main reasons I adopted this approach. I see a lot of runners using an “all-in” approach to training and racing, but that’s not sustainable for a lifetime. I want this to be a lifelong “hobby.” :-)

  15. Theresa
    June 28, 2011

    That’s how I train too…run when I feel like it, don’t train when not in the mood…don’t run with a watch or an ipod. Carry a camera most times. Enjoy and have fun! I only run “about” every other day. When at the lake with the kids I convince myself that “swimming” around with them for 20 minutes is a workout! When I trail run I actually do stop and smell the flowers. :) Run for fun…when it’s not fun anymore, I’m not doing it anymore. :) Great Job at Western states, glad you enjoyed your adventure.

    • Jason
      June 29, 2011

      Thanks Theresa! What kind of camera do you carry?

  16. The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy
    June 28, 2011

    I’m really coming around to this method of training. I’m down from 50-60 mile weeks to under 20, usually on one awesome long trail run. I lift weights almost every day, but that’s because I like it. I try to get a good, long bike ride in every other week. Just doing what I feel like doing.

    Then every so often I’ll go out on a ridiculously long and challenging run, like my planned barefoot 50K. My objective isn’t to meet a time goal, but just to have fun.

    Kind of reminds me of the way Barefoot Ted trained for Leadville. Less than 20 miles a week, a few training races, concentrate on running light and easy.

    Good work my friend.

    • Jason
      June 29, 2011

      Christian- actually, BFT and I talked about this at the NYC BF run last year. He had recently run Leadville and said he felt great. I had recently finished Burning River and felt like shit. It wasn’t a tough decision to adopt his approach. Damn, it works! Note- Both Ted and I already had a base developed. I’m not sure the technique would work without a few years of ultra experience.

      In regards to workouts- I’ll start doing more this summer. Same deal- I do them because I love the feeling of HIIT. I can’t wait to build my next slosh tube!

  17. Rob
    June 28, 2011

    A better time saver is not blowing out your quads in the first 62 miles (Foresthill) so you can still run the last 38! :)

    • Jason
      June 29, 2011

      Rob- I have a great uphill technique that saves the quads… I’ll write a post on it soon. At the end of the race, I didn’t have any significant muscular fatigue. It allowed me to run the entire distance (except uphills, which I power hiked, and technical downhills which were just scary.) :-)

      • Rob
        June 29, 2011

        It’s not the uphills that blow your quads, but hammering the long downhills, WS is a net downhill course and plenty of too eager runners find this out, painfully! I’m a born climber myself, love it so I know what you mean. But it’s true though, just look at the splits a lot of folks fast to Foresthill end up getting overtaken, by quite a margin, but those who were a little more conservative to that point.

  18. Roger Bonga
    June 28, 2011

    Did you run the up hills? I’m thinking this is a HUGE time saver if you can run them. WS is long long climbs and walking takes double the time.

    • Jason
      June 29, 2011

      Roger- no, but I did power hike them. I passed A LOT of people going up, but most passed me on the downs. In training, I almost always run up hills to develop the skill. It’s probably the one ultrarunning skill I excel at, but I have a weird affinity for hills… they just make me happy. I could have run up Devil’s Thumb all day. :-)

      I was happy with the uphill performance. If I were to run WS again, I’d work more on my downhill running more than uphill.

  19. Rob
    June 28, 2011

    Your approach is what I’ve been espousing for over a decade! (to an extent) Make it fun is core to how I train. However, I still strongly believe you get out what you put in. And there is not shortcut. If you want to race fast you have to train fast. I also know high volume training, in moderation works for me and has some awesome results. While one can get by with minimal training to finish even 100 mile races, one won’t truly realize their full potential without some measure of hard work. Our training regimens may be totally different, but what’s core is that we both love to run and enjoy what we do. Congrats on the Silver Buckle.

    • Jason
      June 29, 2011

      Rob, the post wasn’t meant to completely disregard high intensity or high volume. I know I definitely get faster with the addition of one or two speedwork sessions per week. Now that I’m pretty confident about finishing 100’s, I’ll probably begin working on building speed. Do you have any preferred workouts?

      • Rob
        June 29, 2011

        In the long ultras, i.e. 100s. I think strength = speed. For me, to build up strength is a process I call “the hardening”. This involves really ramping up my weekly mileage and holding it for a period of about a month. It is very tough, for me at least, but has gotten easier with practice. Sure, at the time I’m tired, hungry all the time, but I love it. It’s part of the challenge and journey you know? This hardening is what allows me race day to have the ability to push harder, maintain pace longer, etc… I know if I don’t do this I tend to fade and don’t have the ability to really push. It’s all about strength. Outside of that, some track work or tempo runs are good to maintain quick leg turnover which is crucial on downhills and your finishing kick! :)

  20. Roger Bonga
    June 28, 2011

    That is what I was planning to do for my second 100 miler this February. I’m thinking Rocky Raccoon. I was just going to do a long run when I felt like it and the other days I was going to swim and bike to keep some tri training. I believe it will pay off big. Mileage made me strong for WS but it also tired me out to much.

    • Jason
      June 29, 2011

      I agree Roger. I definitely had fresh legs at WS, which helped late in the race. I found a long run every three-four weeks is ideal to keep the base without overtraining.