100 miles is a long way.

I’m going to give you an inside glance, as I prepare mentally and physically for my first 100 race. Please note, I did not say my last! 100 miles is a L O N G way, even in a car. I’m preparing to tackle this distance with the help of my mind and body and stomach. I realize that my stomach is part of my body, but I separate it because it is a vital part of my training. 

When my foot first hit the trail in 2013 I had NO desire to run 100 miles.


I do not believe there is a specific path to follow before a 100 mile race, i.e. run (2) 50K, (3) 50s, (1) 100K. There is just not a formula. And, you may never choose to run 50 miles or 100 miles. For me? It has taken me at least 3 years to get to my current level of fitness to even entertain a 100 mile race. 

Where do I start? I choose a race, by location and challenge. This does not have to be a “safe” choice. This is where I balance my “affinity for risk” with “challenge”. I chose Pine to Palm.

“-. . . affinity for risk in endurance sports typically increases with experience, which consequently helps make more challenging events increasingly achievable.”

-Jason Koop with Jim Rutberg, “Training Essentials For Ultrarunning.”

 Next? I create a training plan. I chose the blueprint of a plan from “Relentless Forward Progress” by Bryan Powell. I add miles, track work, tempo running, treadmill hiking, hill running and gym work. I add a new element to each training plan that I write to each year that I train for trail races, with intention. Side note–I’d love to design a plan for YOU! 

I also seek out the advice of a network of runners who are several levels ahead of me in experience and skill. I do not always use their advice. Again, this is a balance of “affinity for risk” with “challenge”. 

When I began training for Ultras, my primary focus was my long run. . . I needed to balance my weekly mileage so that I could FINISH my long run! That is no longer the most important portion of training for me. Now, my focus has switched to the middle distance training runs, 12-18 miles. I focus on adding speed, intensity and hill work to these. 

Is it doable? In longer races, 50-100 distance, I sit down with the elevation map to create my potential outcome(s). Rather than estimate my pace(s) aid station to aid station, I estimate my pace(s) based on the climbs, up and down. I start with my “A” time. If all things play out perfectly, this will be my time. Funny, I hold my breath until I reach the end! I am thrilled when my estimations get me in under the overall cutoff time! Side note–I can sit down with YOU and write a successful outcome!

Pacer(s) and crew: I hope to have 4-6 ladies on my crew and two pacers. I sent out an email to a group of strong running ladies to see who might be interested. I was BLESSED to have a good reply. Seeing their faces, getting hugs, getting encouragement will do a lot for me as I run/walk 100 miles. Their presence will be invaluable.

Execution: I do not always follow my plan to the exact detail and I do not think you have to either. There are many days and weeks to a training plan. They all build on one another. I have learned through injury and exhaustion that if I miss training time, it WILL NOT make or break my desired outcome. The last two races that I trained for, I had several 8 day  blocks of time that I was not running due to injury. It DID NOT cause any training setback. I DID NOT have to change my desired outcome. 

What’s new this time? Each training cycle, I like to add something new. This time, I hired a trainer to work with me twice a week in the gym, Greg Swafford with AthletIQ. I call it an experiment of one. Per the advice of my coach, Sonja Friend-Uhl, I will work 4 weeks in the gym and 3 weeks on core. I’ll continue to rotate until taper week! Excited to see the results on September 9-10. 

To perform at a champion’s level, let the butterflies fly in formation!

-Jim Afremouw, PhD, “The Champion’s Mind.

But there are always ways to prepare the mind so that fun will come more readily. For instance, if you approach sport too seriously, if you can’t occasionally see the humor of some of its aspects, you might be missing some its most joyful aspects.

-Susan A. Jackson, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “Flow in Sports“.

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