This is a beginner to intermediate plan for either the first time 100 miler or one looking to improve performance through a structured plan that includes training with a variety of energy systems, weeks that will get up to around 70-80 miles, and long doubles over the weekends. I suggest you have a base of running at least 30+ miles per week before attempting this plan.
Endurance Runs - These runs are designed to develop your aerobic system. Run them very easy at an effort you could carry a comfortable conversation with someone. Most people don't understand just how easy this needs to be, but if you are uncertain, slow down.
Easy/Recovery Runs - These are so easy that you use them as recovery efforts in-between aerobic or harder effort days. These are even slower and easier than your aerobic runs. Don't be afraid to walk in these if your heart rate is climbing - you'll be doing plenty of walking in your race.
Running Economy / Strides - Strides are utilized early in this plan to build a good structural foundation for VO2max and Tempo workouts later in the program. Additionally, Strides are an excellent way to improve running economy through better mechanics. Make sure to read the pre-activity comments to understand how to execute strides efficiently. Running economy is a very important piece to this plan, so don't skip it thinking it's non-essential.
VO2Max workouts can increase your aerobic capacity and therefore improve endurance running. These will certainly help you run a faster 5K to marathon, but there is also many benefits for increased VO2Max in Ultrarunning. We will increase your VO2max early in the program so that we can next raise your lactate threshold through tempo workouts. Without an increased VO2max, your ceiling is limited for increasing lactate threshold.
Cross-training - While I'm a huge proponent of strength work for runners, I have only included minimal cross-training that includes hiking in the build and peak phases. More than likely, you will hike a good portion of your race and we need to train as specific as possible for the demands of the event. Often, it's not about how fast you run your fastest miles, but how slow you run your slowest miles. Learning to hike efficiently will give you an advantage when hiking is necessary in your race.
Long Runs - On the weekends, run on terrain that is as close to your race as possible in terms of elevation gain and terrain. Additionally, don't be afraid to run/walk your Sunday runs. You won't be running the entirety of 100 miles, so it is important to practice walking as it utilizes a different set of muscles. If you aren't accustomed to walking in training, it will be a challenge for you on race day. The main concept to implement on your Sunday run is to make it race like as much as possible, especially the closer you get to your race. This includes your nutrition and hydration strategies. Your weekends are all about time on feet, so don't get wrapped up in pace. That's why I have prescribed time over distance.
Injuries - with the amount of volume in this plan, you could fight through some discomfort. You're training to run 100 miles, so you will be going through some healthy discomfort, by design. However, if you start to experience pain that might become an injury, then see a physical therapist immediately for a diagnosis. You can remove the mid-week workout if necessary until your injury is resolved. For injury prevention, you can stay on top of running drills, barefoot drills, and low intensity/low volume strength work in addition to this plan.
Racing - if you want to race a 50 miler or 100K leading up to your 100, it's best to do it between 8-12 weeks before your race.
If you have any questions, email me at email@example.com.
Coach Cliff Pittman