How do you run 100 miles? 2 of 6

Billy the Border Collie
Our dog Billy and me – walking him puts around 15 miles extra into my legs each week

I started this short series of posts with the question ‘How do you run 100 miles?!’ Whenever I’ve been asked it, the follow-up question is almost always ‘I mean, how do you actually train to run 100 miles?!’ So this post takes a look at what a typical week of ‘training’ looks like for me…

Yiannis Kouros

Greek ultra-running legend Yiannis Kouros is one of the greatest ultra-runners of all time. He holds multiple records over all kinds of distances, including running the 250km Spartathlon race in 20h 25m 00s; covering 100 miles in 11h 46m 37s; and an incredible 1000-mile road race in 10d 10h 30m 36s (check out the full list)  He did all this without ever running further than 12km in a single workout! He believed that his head controlled his body, and that with the right motivation and inspiration, he could keep running faster for longer. For a great 5-minute read, check out this interview he did with Runners World in 2006.

I’m obviously not Yiannis Kouros, and I sure as hell aint no ultra-running legend. Nevertheless, without realising it until I heard of Yiannis a couple of years ago, my thoughts had been going down a similar track…

What does my training look like?

A lot of people assume that I run 5 or 6 times a week, piling the miles up to allow me to race the ultra distances that I love so much, but the truth is, I don’t run massive distances each week. However, I do these things almost every week – cycle, walk and run. I commute to work on my bike, 4 days per week, with a couple of good hills each day. I’ll then walk our dog Billy most week nights, with some longer walks at the weekend. I’ll usually run 3 times a week, either a mid-week sprint or hill session with my great mate Nick (I’ve got a really amazing interview with him coming up in the next few weeks, a truly powerful story), and then a longer run at the weekend, with a medium run somewhere in between. In terms of the numbers, it looks like this

  • Cycling – 80 miles per week
  • Walking – approximately 15 miles per week
  • Running – Hill/Sprint interval sessions totalling 4 or 5 miles. A medium run of 8-10 miles. A long run of typically somewhere between 12 and 24 miles, very occasionally going above this, up to 35-miles, if I’m peaking for a 100-miler.

There are many many runners out there who will run so much further than that, 40, 60, 80 even 100+ miles per week, regularly, and I honestly admire that. But I found that doing those kind of mileages lead to me being injured more, and the mix of disciplines that I currently do really works for me. The cycling builds my leg and cardiovascular strength in a non-impactful way, walking builds the running muscles in a gentler way than actually running, and from those two things I feel I can run less mileage and stay reasonably injury-free whist having the confidence in my endurance and stamina levels to tackle the longer ultras.

Small lifestyle choices, big changes

Adding all of those miles up means I cover at least 120 miles per week under my own steam. Two of those disciplines are lifestyle choices, and they make up 95 miles of the total – I tackled my fear and chose to cycle to work 3 years ago, and that strength has built. We got our dog Billy 4 years ago, and so I went from walking very little to walking 15 miles per week. I top that off with a little running and my body (under the control of my brain) is able to run 100 miles. Many people cycle to work, many more walk similar distances each day, with or without a dog. Throw some running into the mix (or any other sport for that matter), and the result can be surprising. Never in my life, even after I ran my first marathon, did I think I’d go any further than 26.2 – it wasn’t until I did it that I actually believed it! Now I genuinely wonder, how far will I actually go? The human body is a truly incredible thing, and we don’t need to train it a huge amount in order to achieve something to be proud of.

What are your aspirations for running/life? I’m genuinely curious to know. Although this blog is using running as a vehicle for life, my big hope is that it appeals to non-runners too (I was one once), so please feel free to tell what your targets and hopes are for what you want to do with your life – comment below and share what your short term, medium term and long-term dreams are…

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