Jan 18, 2021
I have an interesting video for readers today. This was taken just south of the New Zealand town of Kaikoura. The blog posts further below include a few photos too. It was a fantastic place to run, as you’ll appreciate from these images.
And below is the last of the magazine articles on running that I wrote a few years ago. This one is about running 100 km – something most don’t do, but perhaps many think about. Perhaps one day I’ll write some more articles like this.
Training for and running a 100 km
For many runners, the marathon will be the longest distance they’ll ever race. Many won’t even venture this far. However – and particularly in recent times – long time runners have begun to gravitate toward more extreme ultra events.
There are many ultramarathon distances raced throughout the world. One such distance – a nice round number yet achievable for most – is the 100 km (approximately 62 miles). Rather than concentrate on ultras in general, this article will focus on the efforts required to train for and race over the 100 km distance. It’s not difficult to then extrapolate to other ultramarathon distances.
Many runners are afraid of ultras. A reason often given for fearing a distance like the 100 km goes something like this – “I know how much a marathon hurts, so a 100 km must hurt more than twice as much”. This is definitely not true. In fact, an ultra can often be more comfortable than a marathon. The reason is speed – we all seem to approach ultras more conservatively than we do marathons.
Training for a 100 km race need not involve much more running than does training for a marathon. There are two variations. Reduce the amount of speed work or fast running and increase the distance of your weekly run (or bi-weekly run, as is often the case when training for extra-long events).
It hardly needs mentioning that everyone runs a 100 km more slowly than they do a marathon. Therefore, speed training is not as important for a 100 km race. However, don’t neglect it entirely. It always helps to have the capacity to run comfortably at a faster pace over distances shorter than your intended race. This applies to 100 km as well. Every second week try a session that involves, say, 4 x 1 mile at somewhere between your half marathon and marathon race pace. If you’re not really sure what pace that is, just go out and run a bit faster than you do during your normal training. As long as you’re not over training, this type of session should be one that you look forward to each week.
The other important session – and the most critical by far – is the long run. When training for a marathon, the accepted wisdom is to do a long run of 30 km, perhaps as much as 35 km, each week for several weeks prior to the race. For 100 km, there’s not a lot that differs. The main difference is the length of the long run. As with the marathon, the long run need not be as long as the race distance itself.
Few runners attempt a 100 km training run. Something around 50-60 km is more normal, with perhaps 75 km as a maximum. And take your time with these runs. Make such training runs an epic adventure in themselves. Spend a weekend in the country, with a day-long run followed by a nice overnight getaway in a country pub or B&B. Training for an ultra is an arduous undertaking. You should incorporate as much fun and adventure into the exercise as you can. It will motivate you to do these long runs, thereby preventing the mental burnout many experience when doing mega long runs through the streets they run every other day.
When it comes to race day, there is one critical rule – DO NOT start too fast. Make sure you feel very comfortable for the first few hours. If you know the pain of beginning a marathon too fast, you certainly won’t want to experience the same feeling in a 100 km race. If, however, you manage to pace yourself efficiently, you’ll be surprised at how comfortable the race will feel. It’s much better to start a little slower and gradually increase the pace. This is truer for a 100 km race than for a marathon. And you’ll enjoy the event far more than will be the case if you start too quickly.
If challenging yourself with an event longer than a marathon is of interest, then a 100 km race is something you should consider. Neither the training, nor the event itself, should be any more arduous than that of a marathon. It’s all about managing the pace. If you get that wrong, all bets are off.
Jan 17, 2012
Distance today = 59.69 km; Total distance = 882.62 km; Location = about 3 km west of Hundalee – 42 36.496′ S, 173 23.573′ E; Start time = 0845, Finish time = 1705
A very picturesque day, probably the pick of the days so far, with 59.7 km covered. The scenery was brilliant for running, with hints of many places around the world – France, Italy, Greece, the Dalmatian Coast, and parts of the US.
The weather has been extremely kind to me to this point. I doubt I could have covered as much ground as I have without these ideal conditions. I think I’m being spoilt, as the conditions will, no doubt, change for the worse before too long, and I will be back to shorter daily distances when it does.
Luckily I’m still feeling good, as I have set myself a daily average this week of 55 km, so that I can make Wellington by Saturday. So far I’m ahead of schedule.
We’re staying in Kaikoura tonight and tomorrow night, and what a great little town. We have been given two nights for the price of one by the the very luxurious Waves on the Esplanade, so many thanks to the management of this fine establishment.
A final comment on roadkill. Besides the ubiquitous hedgehogs, the second most flattened species is the ferret/stoat/weasel (I’m not sure which one it is here). These are wild here in NZ. They also appear to have poor road sense. I took a photo of one today which had been completely flattened, somehow without its guts spreading all over the road. Hopefully Carmel can upload the photo soon. A little macabre, but an interesting look all the same.
Jan 18, 2012
Distance today = 57.66 km; Total distance = 940.28 km; Location = Mangamaunu – 42 17.517′ S, 173 45.141′ E; Start time = 0842, Finish time = 1654
Still on track to make the inter-island ferry on Saturday. I just need to do similar distances over the next two days. Once again, the scenery was magnificent, especially the coastal section. I saw many seals basking in the sun, only metres from me. Hopefully we’ll have a video uploaded so you can see what I mean.
One of the very pleasant aspects of this run in NZ (among many), is the reduced level of roadside garbage. There is definitely less than what I’ve noticed in Australia, and in Europe too. I’ve done a lot of cycling in the countrysides of both these places, and the amount of rubbish thrown out of cars is disgraceful. Here in NZ there is still some, but far less. It may be partially related to the lower population density, but I suspect there is a greater sense of pride and environmental responsibility. Good on you Kiwis.
And in regard to last night’s disguised trivia question about the dead ferret/skunk in the middle of the road, the winner is the Oracle of Shanghai, who correctly identified not just the animal, but the singer as well – Loudon Wainwright III. Well done, Vanessa.