Returning to the 100-Mile Week Challenge

AJW writes about what goes into the 100-mile training week.

By on July 31, 2020 | Comments

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

Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.