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What I learnt leading up to 100 miles weeks

Being able to run a 100 miles (160km) a week has always intrigued me for a few reasons. First, it will require an average distance of 23km a day, 7 days a week (more if I only run 5-6 days a week). Secondly, the consistency required is quite demanding because a shorter run on a certain day would result in a much longer run down stream. Lastly, being able to run 160km in a span of a week would really test myself mentally in setting a new target and keeping to it.

So here I am today, having completed back to back 160km weeks and I must say I’ve quite enjoyed the process although there have been a couple of downs over the past 14 days. Safe to say, I never once thought I would be addicted to running as I am now and it’ll be interesting to see where my next destination will be.

Before we begin, let’s get the training data out of the way. I consciously made an effort to track my mileage in order to prevent injury and to see if I could start noticing patterns in my own performance.

My monthly breakdown showed a huge spike from June to August due to my first ever 50km run that got me to believe that I could actually go further than I led myself to believe. September is not done yet and it’ll be interesting to see where I’ll be compared to August once the month is over.

My weekly breakdown from July to September is more telling once I go into the details. I try and follow a 3-4 week plan with a low key week thereafter. The two peaks in JW4, AW1 and SW2 and 3 are my peak weeks with September (SW4 coming up) still to go. I broke the 160km per week mileage in September week 2 and 3.

With the training data out of the way, I spent some time reflecting on the key lessons learnt leading up to my back to back 100 mile weeks and they are summarised below.

1. Start slow and find a natural rhythm. I used to make the mistake of starting off too fast in the mornings and this resulted in a plantar injury that plagued me for the better part of June and July. My body wasn’t warmed up and it’s just cruel to do that to your legs. I spoke more about going slow here in my other post. Once your body warms up, it kind of settles into a natural rhythm. Don’t force any pace and simply let yourself glide through the session.

2. Eat well the night before. As mentioned above, when preparing to clock 23km a day, food intake is of utmost importance. The quantity and the quality of the food are both equally as important and it ensures my muscles are recharged and ready to go.

3. The ache is normal. I find myself waking up to truly sore legs especially after back to back long sessions but as long as there are no indicators of sharp pains and the ache is purely a muscular one, it’s ok. The one thing that drives me forward is understanding how a race like the Gobi Desert March would require me to clock 250km over 5 – 7 days and hence it will become something I need to get used to.

4. Shoe rotation. So important. I used to wear just one pair of shoes and realized that it began to feel lumpy in certain areas. Checked in with a few people and even our shoes need down time. Who would have thought? I bought two exact same pairs and rotate them daily now.

5. Go far and loop back. I mentioned this before but I believe it has allowed me to clock some distances I never thought I would in training. I basically split my run into 2 parts which would require me to run back once I hit the halfway point. Running in loops for me has always been an issue.

6. Change insoles. I “upgraded” my insoles in my shoes to provide better cushioning and comfort. My analogy would be similar to tweaking the shock absorbers in your car suspension system for maximum comfort.

7. Get a proper running bag. Although I don’t wear them much unless the run is in excess of 30km, it’s a worthwhile investment. I once wore a running bag that was more affordable but wasn’t very well designed and it left me with two abrasion sores on my shoulders that took almost a week to heal.

8. Abrasions are life. Regardless what tights you wear, what bag you buy, what cap you put on, the abrasions will happen and what starts off as a small discomfort will become a world of pain when you get into the shower. Vaseline is your best friend.

9. Exhaustion and fatigue. Not true. I have actually never felt more energetic and focused in my life especially when I carry the positive emotions of completing my run in the morning before work starts.

10. The first 2-3km is crucial. I have had many occasions where my body didn’t want to cooperate and I would be almost half walking and slow jogging the first couple of kilometers. A magical thing happens when your body warms up and your mind cooperates. Try it out for yourself.

11. The 12-16km mark is crucial. My mind begins fighting again at this point and there will be times where slowing down or even taking a bit of a breather is not only advised but totally necessary. Running is full of ups and downs and its about discovering the flow.

12. The long run. I don’t think we can run away from this one (pun totally intended). In order to clock 160km a week, there will need to be one long run in excess of 30km to make up for a couple of rest days. It’s all in the mathematics. Some may advice breaking up the runs but it depends on your schedule. I just like to get it done within a single session.

13. Hydrate like crazy. One thing I found these two weeks is how much fluid I needed to replenish before and post run. There’s something about these long distances that magically draws fluids away from your body. I’m sure there is some science to it but trust me, hydrate frequently and use the color of your urine as a gauge.

14. Your swimming gets affected. As much as I still try to swim, I find that the overall fatigue affects my posture in the pool and it’s something I’m trying to figure out. Possibly the development of new muscle unbalances the body as well.

15. It’s addictive. I thought that clocking long distances in the morning would do it for me but would find myself going out for recovery runs (no more than 5km) and relishing the feeling of where my feet will take me again. Liberating. The next day, I would wake up raring to go. Interesting.

16. The distances will seem shorter. As your body finds new efficiency, the distances become more manageable. Again, there is some science to this but for me, its about doing something over and over again until we’re so used to it that it becomes habit.

17. Massages will hurt. A lot. If you do indulge in a sport massage, be prepared to bite a towel. The calves and IT band will hurt the most.

18. Training plans. Recommended but not entirely necessary. I cover distances based on what my body feels on a specific day and have been surprised to find that I have actually gone further on bad days than on good ones. My only gauge of pain to rest would be sharp pains and that for me is a clear indicator to rest.

19. Are back to back long runs necessary? Aren’t all the runs long in a 160km week? 🙂

20. Fasted running. I’ve done this every morning but only because I don’t like to run on a full stomach. Are there benefits? Its not been clear for me.

I’m still early in my days of running 100 mile weeks but the lessons learnt thus far have been quite interesting as I track my training and attempt to understand my data better. Here’s to many more fun running days ahead.

Till the next post and remember to keep moving forward.



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