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!
AJW’s Beer of the Week
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?