Tom Lane, an accomplished ultrarunner from Bentonville AR, shares some great tips for running the Leadville 100
Tip 1: Have a goal, make a plan, and stick to it!
My training really started at the end of last year. I had several goals for this year: one was to run a Boston qualifying time of sub 3:15 and the other was to complete the Leadville 100. That meant I would need to shave 18 minutes off my previous fastest marathon and then build an extremely strong base to get me through the 100 miles. I also looked at the marathon training as great training for the ultimate goal which is to complete Leadville. At the beginning of my training I focused on building base miles building a mile per day each week (i.e. 3,3,3,3,6 – week 1, 4,4,4,4,8 – week 2). Those miles consisted of speed on Monday nights and a long run on the weekend. I built base miles through 7 miles per day and a 14 mile long run and then mixed it up with different distances while I built up to 22 miles with middle miles at race pace. I ended up running 3:11:01 at the Little Rock Marathon which was a PR by 22 minutes. From there my training plan went back to base miles with a focus on strength and endurance. I began again at 3’s per day and then 4’s. This plan had hill repeats on Wednesdays that would match my mid week run distances and then back to back long runs that would eventually build to back to back to back long runs of 20, 20 and 30 and a 90 mile week. The plan also included several 50k and 50 mile races along the way to gauge my performance. The key to running 100 miles distance is driving your ability to run on tired legs meaning back to back to back long runs.
Tip 2: Find a focus to help get you through the tough times
The thing I am least excited about is the building nervousness and anticipation leading up to a race like this and having to wait for something that you feel like you are so ready and so prepared for can make you sick to your stomach. I am also overwhelmed with excitement around the unknown. 100 Mile endurance runs have the ability to take you through places physically, mentally and emotionally that you could never imagine. I look forward to facing and overcoming those challenges! Now that is a good focus!
Tip 3: Start early in your training developing and testing a nutritional plan
I changed my diet last year around October from a high carbohydrate consumer to a low carbohydrate consumer as a test to aid in solving stomach discomfort late in races. That change had a dramatic impact on my energy level, my weight and my overall running performance. Currently, I am consuming approximately 50 carbs per day made up of about 10 carbs of fruits, vegetables, nuts, proteins, and miscellaneous. Normal training runs did not require any supplements. I used Vespa prior to and during long runs of 20+ miles. I also experimented during races with aid station food and with some GU supplements. GU, for me, turned out not to be an option as even small amounts would cause stomach discomfort.
My per-race meal will consist of a large ribeye steak, baked potato with butter and sour cream, etc.
During the race, I plan to use a combination of Vespa every 3 hours or so, aid station food, and honey stinger waffles and chews. I will minimize my intake in an effort keep my stomach issues at bay.
Since starting this nutrition plan, Tom lost a little over 20 pounds and gained PRs in his marathon and 50 mile ultra marathon.
Tip 4: Pacing or being part of a race crew is a good way to get a first hand course preview
I crewed and paced Mike Rush last year so I have an idea of the course and I ran another 50 mile race that started in Leadville so I have some experience running at altitude and dealing with the climbs over 12,000 feet. The course is a 100 mile out and back course that is run on pavement, dirt roads and single track trails. It has two significant climbs (Powerline and Hope Pass). The weather can vary from hot and sunny to cold and snowy. Hail or rain is possible and you never know when a thunderstorm with heavy lightning may show up. A extremely accomplished ultra runner once described the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run as a “peach” of a run and Leadville as the “devil!”
Tip 5: Use SKIN STRONG to stay blister and chafe free!
More about Tom:
RunLeadville is a great resource
What about you…
Have you raced the Leadville 100? Tell us about it, we’d love to hear from you!