“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” -Chinese proverb
"The best time to start training for your 100 mile race is a few months ago. The second best time is now." - Portland area running coach :)
If you are training for a spring 100 miler and you are not sure when to start training, the time is now. If you are training for a fall race, like Mountain Lakes 100, the time is now. If checking off the 100 mile distance is on your list, the time for training is now.
A 100 mile race is a long one and there are some experiences I like all first time 100 mile runners to have before starting their race. So before stressing out over all the miles you will run, or worrying about a training plan, check out these 4 considerations to start working on TODAY.
A SOLID BASE FOR GETTING STARTED
I generally don't start training someone for a 100 mile race until they are running healthy at least 4x per week and at least 1 hour per run. This is minimum. If you aren't there and you are facing down a big goal, you need to figure out how to get to this starting point. (I know a good coach you could contact!) For runners coming off an injury this can be tougher than it seems. Early season is not a time to run injured or skip going to the PT. For runners lacking motivation, if you can't get in 4 solid runs a week, it is time to revisit your WHY.
A STRONG WHY
I have coached athletes with their WHY ranging from, "because I can't stop thinking about this adventure", to "I want to show my kids what is possible" and everything in between. What I have learned in years of listening to the WHY of racing, it is that the WHY doesn't need to make sense to me or anyone but the person racing. For example, raising money for charity is a great motivator for some. For many, this is a strong why. In reality, it is a socially acceptable why. You spend hours and hours running, might as well make it useful, right? But running for a cause is not enough for some. The WHY of, "I can't get it out of my head and I am determined", can be just as strong, even if it doesn't present as socially helpful to others. Don't lose confidence with your WHY, it doesn't have to ring true for anyone but you.
A FEW GREAT REASONS FOR CONFIDENCE
Every single successful first time 100 mile racer I have coached had NO FALSE CONFIDENCE, yet, felt confident they could train, felt confident they could push themselves and felt confident they would not quit. Not one felt certain that the 100 miles was a given. Confidence came from miles run and races completed. Success training for a 50 miler and success at that distance is a reason for confidence. A 30 mile solo mountain run in poor conditions is a reason for confidence. Write down your concrete reasons for confidence and if you don't have 4-7 reasons, it is time to start building up confidence in the mountains, on hard runs or in looking back at hard work in training logs. Where your mind goes, your body will follow, make sure your mind is confident to enough to lead your battered body when it doesn't want to go.
A REAL BUTT KICKING
Most successful first time 100 mile racers have had at least one day out running or one race that was just plain awful, terrible, no good. They had the bad day, learned the lessons and lived to run another day. This could be a race that starts well but ends in near panic attack, but you finish, or a run that should take 4 hours takes 8 without enough nutrition, but you finish and you are fine, and that is the important part. Knowing that you can push through a terrible day and be ok on the other side as well as able to learn something is key. Knowing you can finish way slower than you planned and your friends and family still think you are a super human is key. You can't do this when every day goes smoothly. It is harder to plan a butt kicking day, but the more experiences you provide yourself, the more opportunities that one will not go as planned.
Time to start making experiences, running consistently and building up confidence for your race. Once you have these in place, time to get your training started. Don't look back in two months wishing your seeds were planted.
coach dana on running, racing and adventure