Returning to the 100-Mile Week Challenge

AJW's TaproomA few years back and while training for the Hardrock 100, I wrote an article about the 100-mile training week. There is something about the 100-mile-week milestone that has always intrigued me and it is in that context that, given our current circumstances, I will be attempting to complete a 100-mile training week next week.

There was a time in my younger days that I could string together multiple 100-mile weeks in preparation for a big race. Those days are long gone now but the allure of the goal and the drive to achieve it is not. And, as we are currently living in an era of self-motivated, virtual challenges, this seems like as good a time as any to embark on this elusive but ultimately deeply satisfying challenge.

My plan at this point is to confront the goal deliberately and focus on steady consistency through the week. I plan to stay close to home, running routes that are familiar to me and that will also allow me to extend or cut short runs as the conditions allow. As it is early August in the Mississippi Delta region of Northeast Arkansas, the challenge will be made more difficult by the incessant heat and stifling humidity that envelops this area in mid-summer. It’s been about four years since my last 100-mile training week, so I am not exactly sure what to expect and am addressing the challenge like I would address any of the ultramarathons I have run over the past 28 years.

First, I will expect the unexpected. Ultramarathon experiences almost never go entirely as planned and I suspect this attempt at a 100-mile week will be no different. I will likely have good days and bad days, times I want to give in and give up, and times when I may just want to run forever. What I plan to do, in any of those circumstances, is accept the reality of the moment and forge on, taking solace in the fact that each step brings me closer to my ultimate goal.

Second, I will break the experience up into manageable chunks. It would be easy to wake up on Monday morning and become quickly overwhelmed with the enormity of the task at hand. To look ahead to a 100-mile week and say, “There’s no way I can do that!” and roll over and go back to bed. But this is what ultras teach us not to do. They teach us to run aid station to aid station or “tree to tree” as the legendary Ann Trason used to say, and in doing that I’ll savor the daily grind of the effort and keep my eyes on the trees rather than the entire forest.

Third, I will endeavor to have fun. Like the well-known Ben and Jerry’s slogan says, “If it’s not fun, why do it.” And, that couldn’t be more true in this case. There is nobody forcing me to run 100 miles in one week any more than there is someone making me run a race. This entirely optional activity is something I have grown to cherish and in creating a challenge around which to build a new experience, I can learn more about myself, my fitness, and my ability to struggle against adversity.

Wish me luck!

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week comes from the hot, sultry depths of the Mississippi Delta. Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company of Kiln, Mississippi is the state’s oldest craft brewery. Lazy Magnolia has made their living on unique, Southern-inspired beers and the Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale is their flagship brew. Made with whole, roasted pecans, this malty, nutty ale is truly outstanding and an excellent accompaniment to a late summer cookout.

Call for Comments

  • Are you putting in big-mileage weeks right now? Without many in-person races, where is your motivation coming from to carry them through?
  • Alternately, do you have another goal which symbolizes a challenging week of training? Perhaps in vertical gain or time running? Something else?

All photos: Andy Jones-Wilkins

There are 7 comments

  1. Wes Claytor

    Getting after it! I’ve scheduled a 100 mile week next week as well, so I’ll be lacing up with you Monday-Sunday (in the NC humidity). Looking forward to the process — thanks for sharing your insights.

    1. AJW

      Thanks for asking Steve! For the past three months I have been averaging 67.4 MPW with a high week of 80 and a low week of 24

  2. Matt

    AJW, great post!

    My wife and I visited NW Arkansas for vacation in August a few years ago and the humidity was incredible. We went for an early morning run one day, and after only a few minutes, our clothes were completely soaked with sweat, like we had jumped into a swimming pool. We still chuckle about that crazy humidity. I wish you luck!

    Since the pandemic started, I’ve actually been running a lot more. I recently strung together two three-week periods, all at 100 mpw or so. My interest in racing has been waning for the past several years, but my desire to run is just as strong, if not stronger. I found that I don’t need a race on the horizon to get me out the door most mornings or to get my long runs in. I run alone 99% of the time and motivation has never been a problem, thankfully. I have done a few long “challenge” runs since the pandemic started, and I suspect I’ll done one or two more of those this fall.

    Thanks again for a great post.

  3. ken michal

    Rock on!! Go get em, AJW!! You’ve done it before, you can do it again!

    Adrew Glaze is currently on a mind blowing 22nd consecutive 100 mile week this week!!

    I’m also challenging myself to a 100mpw streak! After being sick for 10+ weeks (probably CV but didn’t qualify for testing at the time), I’ve found a better appreciation for the gift of being able to suffer on my own terms! I’m sure you can relate to this with your hip issues awhile back! Should finish up week 4 tomorrow! Still not 100% after being sick but loving every step of the super slow journey! Will definitely be in killer shape by the time racing comes back!!

    All Day!
    ~Ken

  4. andy mc breen

    Andy,
    Your thoughts are excellent and i suspect that i am very close in age to You. I am 53 and have run 65 ultra marathons to date. I love your thought that there will be highs and lows during any given run and one can except this and forge on. Its such a beautiful feeling to know that We can overcome the difficult and challenging times of an ultra marathon or any fkt or run. I believe that this mindset to push through gives us a tremendous amount of confidence and satisfaction in accomplishing something that we are really unsure of. I was blessed to have learned the art of trail running from the amazing ultra runner and human, Scott Jurek. He told me that, ” each day we are given a blank canvas to paint a picture and we decide what that will be.”

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