Questions for Michael Irrgang:

Hello, my name is Dirk Bandowski and I have a question about training for the 100-Mile Race. I have already noticed the discrepancy looking at 100 kilometer training plans. Of course everyone trains a bit differently. But such extreme differences…

I have done some reading about 24-hour training from Michael. Wolfgang Ulbrich’s 100-mile training plan is not quite so „tough“ but has halfway comparable dimensions. Looking at the 100-mile plan for the 100 mile race at Taubertal100, one of those sites simply must be wrong. Either Michael and Wolfgang are suggesting way too much training, or there is way too little in the Taubertal plan.

Lots of training always means a higher risk of overtraining and injury. Should one take that risk for a strong race, or is the Taubental plan sufficient to finish (which I can’t really imagine)?

Greetings, Dirk

Hello Dirk, you ask us a very exciting question right away. How much MUST someone train? Too little training means lots of suffering in the race or not finishing at all. More training means the chance to be faster, but possibly a higher risk of injuries. Presumably everyone says that injury prevention is goal number one and plans their training cautiously. Training for the lower performance range is very simple, one only has to train in varied ways and pay special attention to two numbers: the length of the longest run and the maximum number of weekly kilometers. Without a certain quantity it is just not possible, unfortunately. Normal marathon training of 40-60 kilometers per week is not sufficient.

My suggestions:

Extend the long run, for example from 40km to 80km, and additionally plan a 100km or 12-hour race, for example the German Championships in 100km at the end of June fits well.

Once a month, plan a high-load week with 160 total kilometers. In July, compress this to three days for the toughest part of the entire preparation, for example from Friday to Sunday run 30, 70, and 60km, at best a bit faster on Friday.

It is of course important to already have several years of running experience. One sees this advice everywhere, but it sounds a bit strange for beginners. The reason is that everyone optimizes their running style over the years, and the stressed body parts, such as bones and ligaments, are strengthened. That takes time. Don’t overlook the fact that many marathon runners, despite solid preparation, overstrain themselves during the marathon. 100 km are equivalent to 3 marathons, and 100 miles are almost double that. Such a distance should be respected.

Are my plans tough? I don’t think so. They are mostly examples of high-load weeks. By no means should anyone run those 8 weeks one after the other! I often don’t talk about the regeneration weeks, during which I sometimes let even my top runners run only 30 slow kilometers over 5 days.

I hope that was helpful to you,

Michael

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Hello, I am planning to run the Rennsteig Supermarathon (73km) and the 100 km run of Biel as preparation for the Berlin Wall Race.

In your opinion, does it make sense to treat these two competitions as training runs, and hold back a bit, or is there a great risk for first-time runners without 100-mile experience to go out too fast? It would be great to hear your opinion beforehand. I am registered as a solo runner.

Many thanks and greetings, Thomas Hamacher

Hello Thomas, both events are sensible preparation races for the 100-mile race. Of course, you should not run both „fully to the limit“, rather in the ideal case „as good as possible“. During such test competitions there is definitely a risk of injury and overstressing with the possible result that you must take a several week break from training – the result would then be overall negative – but there are also positive aspects. The long run is the most important aspect of training, and you have probably already gotten used to runs of over 50 or 60 kilometers. Nevertheless, it makes sense to considerably exceed these usual distances from time to time. They say that 100 miles are twice as long as 100 kilometers – mathematically that is nonsense, of course, but often correct considering the time needed, so someone who needs 12 hours for 100 km can finish 100 miles in 24 hours.

You will be on your feet about half as long in Biel as on the Berlin Wall Trail. At Rennsteig probably even a bit less. Therefore, both runs are fitting for the training phase. Especially since you have not yet run so many ultras, I recommend both of these runs, since you will be able to collect new, important experiences, for example about equipment, fatigue, and energy supply. In Beil you will also experience running through the night. For me personally, time and money were the reasons that I did without such preparation races, since such starts are quite demanding. But when possible, they are great! I wish you the best of luck and success for further preparation and for the Berlin Wall Race.

Greetings,

Michael

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Questions for Andreas Binninger

Hello, I often have the problem that, during long runs, I fall apart very quickly when the temperature rises. This was the reason I had to end the Berlin Wall Race after 100 kilometers last year. I drink very much and also try to counter the loss of performance with salt tablets and magnesium. What else could I do?

Greetings, Ansgar Dschunke

Hello Ansgar, I cannot say what exactly led to the performance problems in your case. Therefore I would like to discuss the topic of heat problems generally. High temperatures are often a challenge and the reason for performance problems up to and including withdrawal from a competition, for both amateurs and professionals. Studies with athletes have shown that adaption to heat can be improved to some degree through training in warmer weather. Athletes who have adapted to heat start sweating sooner and lose less salt in their sweat, for example.

To better prepare yourself for the heat, try to use the warm summer weeks before the 100-Mile Race and do your long runs during the warm parts of the day that runners usually tend to avoid. In general, one should expect lower performance whenever the heat produced by the body cannot be sufficiently diffused to the environment, causing the body temperature to rise. How much heat can be diffused depends on both the temperature as well as the humidity, neither of which can be changed. Therefore, the tempo must be reduced in hot weather to reduce the heat produced by the body. Direct sun exposure to the skin also increases body temperature. Although runners tend to wear tank tops in the heat, it is better to wear a light, breathable shirt that covers the shoulders and upper arms in the sun. Breathable shorts that cover the thighs also helps with heat reduction. A breathable head covering, ideally also covering the neck, should be mandatory in the sun.

Another aspect that can lead to performance problems in the heat is the increased loss of fluids and minerals, which you mentioned. The topic of drinking is always a „hot“ one. Various past recommendations have lead to a situation where many athletes tend to drink too much, not too little. Too much intake of liquids, especially of drinks that contain too little sodium, can lead to dilution of the body fluids outside of the cells. As a result, the sodium levels drop below the normal value, even though there is enough sodium in the body. Typical signs of this are dizziness, nausea, and swelling; in severe cases headache, vomiting, and loss of consciousness.

Ideally, one should drink as much as one loses through sweat and urination. This quantity can be approximated by weighing oneself before and after a training run (for example, run 10 or 20 km) without drinking anything. The difference in grams is the approximate quantity of liquid required in milliliters. It is also important to know that the stomach cannot process more than 800ml of liquid per hour. When sweating a lot due to the heat, sufficient rest and drinking breaks, ideally in a cool, shaded, airy place, can help keep the deficit from increasing. Isotonic sports drinks are best for rapid intake. They are absorbed fastest, already in the small intestine. Hypotonic drinks (such as tap water, mineral water, herbal and fruit tea) are absorbed a bit slower. Hypertonic beverages (such as cola, soft drinks, 100% fruit juice, energy drinks, and malt beverages) are unsuitable for quick replacement of liquids, as they must first be diluted in the small intestine with water taken from the body. Water is the best beverage to drink with solid meals. Most hypotonic drinks contain little sodium, and sports drinks contain amounts near the bottom of the recommended intake range. It definitely makes sense for you to add salt, since salt is primarily what is lost through sweating. Next comes potassium. Calcium and magnesium are lost at significantly lower rates, followed by trace elements, the loss of which can also affect performance. I can recommend a combination of mineral tablets from Neukönigsförderer and salt tablets to replace the minerals lost in sweat proportionally and cover all losses.

I hope that this answer was helpful and am available for further questions.

Greetings,

Andreas

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Questions for Oliver Stoll

What is the best strategy for approaching the race, or how can I best deal with my fear of failure?

Many thanks and greetings, Thomas Hamacher

Hello Thomas, your question is exciting for a variety of reasons and will be of interest to many other runners as well. The answer is not as easy as one might assume Actually, you have two questions, namely 1) Which strategy is best for approaching the race, and 2) How can I deal with the fear of failure?

From my own experience and also from many conversations with very good runners, I can say to question 1 that it makes sense to divide the overall course into pieces and only to concentrate on the completion of the next section. No one can imagine the distance of 160 kilometers (to run on foot) – in one go. If you divide the 100 miles into 3 or 4 „easier to digest“ pieces, then concentrate on the completion of each, the whole thing becomes mentally easier. What furthermore can help is to set small „rewards“ for the completion of these pieces. (Whether that is a short massage or something else personally „special“ is up to you, but in any case it should be something personally significant.) What also helps is to familiarize oneself with the route in advance. Look at some distinctive points along the route (and possibly also visualize them at home). Write a „screenplay“ for your run with which you practice daily (for example, sit on the couch once a day and imagine completing these distinctive points). It is also important during this visualization to imagine the associated positive emotions. If you take this advice to heart, you should be able to develop a very positive attitude towards this challenge.

And now to the second question, the possible failure. Basically, you should not be concerned beforehand about a possible „failure“. That task must be dealt with when it happens. If you concern yourself mentally with this already, the thought becomes an established strategy, and in the worst case it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As long as you have prepared yourself to the best of your knowledge and conscience, failure is not an option. It is better to occupy yourself with the mental preparation discussed above, create positive images, and experience internally in advance the wonderful feeling of being able to achieve something completely out of the ordinary. Imagine crossing the finish line. Look at videos from the 100MeilenBerlin online, download them, add your own music to those moving images. This should help to develop a positive outlook. If you do have to quit later, then a rational and realistic examination is necessary. This is best done with a coach or another runner. They know what you are talking about and can help you with this task. Moreover, a „failure“ is no big drama! The fact that you even took on this challenge deserves great respect. And when someone – in the case of a failure – thoroughly analyses their lack of success, this also brings them forward. You will grow. And you will come back stronger!

Warm greetings from Oliver