I want to run a hundred milesThu, 30th Apr '09, 8:35 am::

For the past three weeks, I have been running six miles or more almost daily and have lost about 12 lbs (5kgs). I'm training for the Grand Teton 100-mile Ultramarathon in September. This is a 100-mile (161 km) race through mountains, canyons, and forests in Wyoming and has to be completed within 36 hours. Regular marathons are 26.2 miles (42 km) and most people finish in 4-6 hours. Ultramarathons are races longer than marathons and most ultramarathoners run the 100 miles non-stop. At the pace I am training, this would mean running, jogging, and walking for over 24 hours non-stop. By no means is this a minor challenge for me, physically and mentally.

I am crazy not stupid so I understand that in order to even attempt to run 100 miles, proper training is a must. Training includes running, walking, proper eating, and lots of cross-training. Since I live in Florida at sea-level, my body will have to work much harder to persevere at the high altitudes. Additionally, the terrain here is mostly flat whereas the actual trail requires runners to go up and down thousands of feet every few miles. This means lots of StairMaster training at the gym. Personally I am not interested in going to a gym and would much rather run outdoors but the lack of steep hills in Florida means I have to train my quads indoors.

Running an ultra is different from running a 10K or even a marathon. After all, a 100-mile ultra is like four back-to-back marathons. When training for a regular marathon, speed and timing matters. In an ultra, the pace and endurance matter the most. The saying goes, "to run an ultramarathon, start slow and then slow down." I can't run fast but I can run slow forever, which is why I have been very excited for the past few weeks. Ultramarathon seems to fit my style of running a lot better than regular marathons.

When training for ultras, long runs make or break your race. The only way my body can run 100 miles in 36 hours is if it is used to running 50 miles in 16-17 hours or 25 miles in 6-7 hours. This means, before I run for 100 miles, I have to try running 30-50 mile distances on weekends, on top of running 5-10 miles per weekday. If I just run four miles a day, no matter how fast, I won't be able to run the ultra because my body will not learn how to adjust to 6-12 hours of continuous running. The key is to make your body feel as comfortable as possible when running or jogging. A big part of my training is to learn to eat, drink, and relax while running slowly but steadily.

Work, school, and life at home keeps me busy enough and now I am planning to run 70-100 miles a week for the next four months. This will seriously reduce the time I spend goofing off online. However, it will give me a lot of time to listen to good music and audio books, especially on Saturdays when I go for my long runs. Maybe I can blog while running.

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