The training strategy that I followed for the 2013 Angeles Crest 100:
- Training specificity: I trained specifically for the race, targetting a 5 mile per hour pace.
- Terrain-I did my long training runs in mountainous terrain with steep grades and long grinding descents characteristic of the AC100. Most runs were done in the San Gabriels front range to keep driving time down and minimize impact on my family.
- Pace I ran these workouts at 5 miles/hour on average, since that is what I needed to do at the AC100; my plan accounted for aid station stops and last-half slowing with some margin to bring me in under 24 hours. I consciously avoided getting sucked into the trap of training fast at 8 minute miles or whatever in training. I had done this during the fall of 2012 and this contributed to injuries. Next time I train to race for a 50 miler I will train at such a pace; but it is not race-specific for what I was attempting to achieve at Angeles Crest in 2013. This pace accounted for walking up hills:
- Walking-My long runs incorporated walking by design since that was race-specific training: walking the steep uphills, running the downs and the flats is how I planned to race; this cadence equates on average to 12 min/mile (9-10 min/mi running, 14 min/mi walking). Holding to such a modest, slow pace would translate into a blistering 20 hour 100 mile run (easier said than done!). But to execute this modest pace requires being trained to walk fast up hills for many miles. One workout per week I walked uphill for 10 miles (Mt Wilson) with no running (then I ran the 10 miles back down).
- Heat- I did as much heat training as possible as well, including daily lunch-time runs during the work week.
- Training for metabolic efficiency: I trained at the relatively slow pace I intended to run at the AC100, not faster, in part to train for metabolic efficiency. Why would training at a faster pace be a problem? I learned first from Richard Roll's book "Finding Ultra" that running fast causes one to burn glycogen and sugar; running slowly trains the body to burn fat. There was also an article on this subject the Ultrarunning magazine in October 2012 where this concept (training slow to train the body to burn fat) was described as "training for metabolic efficiency". ("Metabolic efficiency: Becoming a "better-butter-burner", by Sunny Blende, M.S., Ultrarunning October 2012 page 29) . Based on my experience, I buy this concept completely. I typically do a 30 mile training run on about 500-600 ingested calories and I don't bonk. I believe this is because I have become an efficient fat burner. I think it was Roll who in his book said that most runners run their slow runs too fast and their fast runs too slow, to paraphrase....creating sugar-burning runners that bonk after 20 miles if they do not eat. In my AC100 race report I noted (in the appendix) what I ate and drank during the race; it did not come close to covering the calories burned in running 100 miles but I felt fine. I crewed my buddy Dale who won the 2013 solo division of the Race Across the West, a bike race from Oceanside, CA to Durango, CO- as far as I could observe, in that race he ate all of a few cans of soup, a few sandwiches, and drank mostly water: This was a 860 mile bike race and he was well-trained for metabolic efficiency.
- Training for kinetic efficiency: I have trained to have a light barefoot style running gait, with a fast foot turnover rate (180 strides per minute) that results in a smooth style with minimal vertical motion, so as not to waste energy bouncing along.
- Training volume and periodization: I do believe that if one intends to race a distance "X" that one had better be comfortable running "X" miles per week ...this means for a 100 mile race, training at a peak of 100 miles per week. But experience shows that breaks are needed for recovery! In my case I did my training in periods of 3-4 weeks of intense training with 1-2 weeks reduced volume in between. I only trained at 100 miles per week for about 3 weeks, and it was enough to achieve the goal I had set. Here is how I did it:
- Long runs: I did back-to-back long workouts on weekends: At peak, 30 miles on Saturday followed by 20 on Sunday. the Sunday run by design was always a 10 mile uphill powerwalk followed by a 10 mile downhill run. Back to back long runs especially with long descents are like an immunization against blown quads.
- Monday- Friday training for time on the feet: My work schedule does not permit long runs during the work week; nonetheless I believe that time on the feet is critical for the 100 miler. I planned to run 50 miles during the M-F work week by splitting the mileage up into morning workouts before the family woke up and lunchtime workouts from my workplace. I always did these even when I felt bad; but I often did these as walks so that these recovery miles had training benefit without trashing me (not "junk miles" for mileage sake). In the training log page for Jan 2013 onwards, the workouts logged as 4 miles or less were almost always walks....this is bacause these work-week workouts were most often limited to 1 hr duration by work constraints. About a third of my work week miles were done as walks. Often I simply spent a lot of time standing rather than sitting on my butt in the office or at home.
Here is how it worked out (race report):