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Tips for Your First 100 Miler from the Grandaddy of Ultras, Andre Blumberg

Posted by Bill Huang on

Signed up for your first 100 miler? Looking for some advice as to how to cross that finish line in one piece? Who better to ask than the Grandaddy of Ultras, Andre Blumberg.

Andre is the founder of the Hong Kong 4 Trails Ultra Challenge and his achievements in 100+ mile races read like a fictional story. Some of his incredible ultra accomplishments include the US Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, Tahoe 200-miler, 217km Badwater and the 320km WiBoLT Ultra in Germany. Having competed the WiBoLT Ultra earned Andre a place in the record books as one of only 8 people to finish 4-200+km races in 7 weeks for a total of 1,008km to complete what is know as the “Millennium Quest” in Germany.

Without further ado, here is the man himself, Andre Blumberg, explaining his tips for a 100 miler:

100 miles is the classic ultra marathon distance and it is especially popular in the US. I would recommend every ultra marathoner to try a 100 mile race at least once to experience it. What makes it so unique? Unless it's a flat course and you are a real speedster, you will be running through at least one entire night to complete the distance. 

Here are three tips to get ready for a 'miler':

1. Assuming you have already completed a 100km race, the major change in training would be to get prepared running on tired legs in the second half of the race. Just bulking up on your long run may not be ideal since it will take too long to recover from, so keep that at 8 - 10 hours at most. Instead, introduce longer back to back runs, e.g. a 5 hour run on a Saturday afternoon followed by a 4 hour run on a Sunday morning.

2. One of the most common issues why people DNF in a 100 miles race are stomach issues and the resulting lack of energy. Eat often and eat early in a miler, try to get around 300 kcal per hour. Test your nutrition plan extensively and with purpose during your long runs. Everyone's nutrition is fine in a 3 hours jog, but 8 hours or longer is a different matter. Find out what food the race aid stations offer, and have alternatives ready in your drop bags or with your crew. And if your stomach shuts down, be patient, reduce your pace (just walk if necessary) and it will come around after a couple hours - trust me on that.

3. Do some of your training at night. Become familiar with night running and work out what lighting gear works best for you. During the race the toughest are usually the hours immediately before sunrise, so why not do an overnight training run starting Friday late night after you had a tiring week at work. Watching the sunrise will renew your energy and motivate you to keep going in the race.

Final tip: Despite what Karl Meltzer may say, 100 miles can be a long way to complete on your own feet and a lot can happen e.g. bad weather. Be flexible, have different gear with you or in your drop bags. Stay focused even if you get lost. But most important, keep moving forward. Most 100 mile races have generous cutoffs, you just have to keep going.

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