With the Mohican 100 only 13 weeks away, the goal this week is simple--to run 100 miles. I haven't run a 100-mile week in a few months but I've done it enough to know it's not easy. I came close a few weeks ago when I put in 91 for the week. The difficulty of a 100-mile week--for me, at least--stems not from the actual mileage, but rather from the time it takes. Factoring in trail running which is done at a slower pace, we're talking about at least 15 hours in my running shoes.
Now, as I write this post, I've put in 38 miles so far this week--11 on Monday, 13.6 on Tuesday and 13.6 today, including some marathon-pace (6:50) and tempo (6:25) runs. That mileage isn't too bad, but when you throw in 10 hours at work and in the car commuting every day and, most important of all, family responsibilities, all in all I feel like right now is the first time in several days that I've been able to sit down and reflect.
This week, the main goal aside from 100 miles is to get to about 55 miles by the end of Friday. That will leave me with 45 to get in on Saturday and Sunday, which is totally manageable because I'll have time to do it. Finding the time to get to 55 by the end of Friday is the tough part. I'll do it, though. I always do! Imagine how tough it'll be when I start getting into the 110-mile-per-week range....
I am a big believer that to run a successful 100-mile race you need to put in 100-mile weeks. It conditions to the body to withstand the crazy punishment a 100-mile race will dole out. If you just want to finish a 100 miler in one piece, sure, 70-mile weeks may work. But if you have an ambitious goal, as I do, 100-mile weeks are in order. I put in several 100-mile weeks while training for the Burning River 100 last year and believe the high mileage served me well. My body held up, except for some inflamed IT bands, and I made it just fine. My approach to this June's Mohican 100 is the same--put in 100-mile weeks, doing my absolute best to get in some tempo, marathon-pace and interval runs along with tons of two-a-days to build strength and toughness.
For me, since I'm human as opposed to elite, doing speedwork during 100-mile training is very difficult. Since I put in all of my weekly morning runs at 5:30 a.m. and my night runs at about 6:00 p.m. right after getting home from a long day at work, my body is not always very cooperative in clocking 1600s at my target pace--about 5:38. Sometimes I can hit that pace, but in 100-mile training it's extremely difficult making my body go fast.
Ultimately, though, I believe doing well in a 100-mile race comes down to the ability to keep going--one's raw endurance. The winner of a 100 miler isn't going to run much beyond a 9- or 10-minute mile, with some exceptions, such as Mark G.'s super-human performance at the Burning River 100. The keys to succeeding in a 100 miler, as I see them, are to build your endurance up to the point that you can keep moving, not have to spend more than a minute or two at each aid station and remain focused on getting to the finish line. It's not a competition of speed, though certainly speed plays a factor. It's a competition of who's the toughest, who can go the longest and who wants the finish line the most.
All that said, there's no excuse for me not to get in some speedwork. I'll do it, just as I'll do it going into my fall marathon to give me the best shot at a sub-3-hour time--my ultimate near-term running goal besides having a successful Mohican 100.