Getting Ready for 100 Miles

Posted By MissyFoy

Monday, March 24, 2014

In less than two weeks, I’ll try to run my first 100 miler.  The operative word here is “try” because I truly don’t know if I’m going to be able to run that far.  I’ve run some 50 milers, but 100 miles … well, it’s a long way.

So, how exactly do you train for 100 miles?  And, more importantly for this particular blog, how do you train for 100 miles when you have Type 1 diabetes?!  The whole diabetes thing certainly adds to the complexity, but the reality is that you still have to prepare for the run much the same way that everyone else does.  For me, that preparation has included running a lot of miles and trying out a lot of different refueling strategies.

For anyone interested, you should check out this essay on running your first 100 miler, written by Blake Norwood (race director of the Umstead Endurance Run):  It gives a basic outline of how to train for a 100 miler and includes a lot of info on what the novice will encounter in training and on race day.  It’s a really good article.  Let me say that again:  this is a really good article.

There are so many things that have gone into trying to prepare for this 100 miler that I can’t possibly include everything here.  I’ll try to hit some of the highlights.  I’ll include some specifics, but remember that I’ve already run quite a few 50 milers … and I ran the road circuit for over a decade before I even started running ultras.  Still, though, I’ll include specifics and try to include enough other info that you can draw some parallels.

I consider my training timetable for this to have been one year.  I knew when I ran the 50 miler at Umstead last year that I wanted to attempt the full 100 miler this year.  I did a, well, not so great prep for the 50 miler last year.  It was pretty much the 10 week couch/desk to 50 miler training program.  Ten weeks before the race, an email went out that said, hey it’s ten weeks until the race, and I thought, oh crap.  I had been running about 50 miles per week, so there was that.  I did a 25 mile long run, then 3 long runs of 30 miles, took a week off from long running, then ran 3 long runs of 40 miles, and then ran the 50 miler at Umstead in 7:20.  FYI, the final lap of 20K was tough, with low blood sugars and stiff legs.  I did, however, manage to avoid the horrible nausea that I am prone to on these ultra runs.  I think staying very well hydrated was the game changer on the nausea.  And, I put that note into my mental database!


After a little bit of downtime, I started a regular routine of 90 to 100 miles per week.  I started with long runs of 25 to 28 miles, and worked up to a whole bunch of 30 to 40 mile long runs through November-ish.  I ran some 15 to 20K tempo runs when I felt like my legs would let me.  With the whole auto-immune stuff I have (Type 1, asthma, thyroiditis), I also get this odd neuromuscular thingy that affects my gait from time to time.  Usually, just slowing the pace down for a week or so and waiting it out allows it to go away, but I had a particularly bad time with it back in August, when I also had my potassium level drop dramatically.  And, yes, I have seen a doctor and a doctor has seen me, so it’s okay, it’s just one of those things in my life, and not everything has a cut-and-dry, certain diagnostic path.  So, it is what it is, and I deal with it.  In October and November, I had this little thing of finishing my doctoral dissertation, and we had the whirlwind five month life with our epileptic rescue pup, so my running slowed a bit.

I ran a few more single long runs in December and January (25, 30, 30, 40).  In February, I started running some split long runs, where I would run long early in the morning, starting before the sun came up, and then come back in the evening with another long run that would end at night in the dark.  My first one was 14 miles in the morning, followed by 15 miles in the evening.  I then ran six more of these split long runs, usually accruing 50 miles total (but a couple times I ran about 38 miles and added in time on the elliptical).  I got in a 50 mile long run, followed by elliptical time in the evening.

I also have done a lot of work on practicing eating, drinking, and insulin/blood sugar management.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to drink enough fluids.  I have also been adding glucose tabs and electrolyte tabs to my water.  For every half liter of water, I add 5 glucose tabs (which is the equivalent of 20 grams of carbohydrate) and an electrolyte tab.  I also chug down a diet Coke at least every 20K and take in plain water frequently, too.  I have been eating honey buns, pb&j sandwiches, bagels with honey, cookies, carbohydrate gel packs, and chicken biscuits.  I have tried pizza, but it made my tummy hurt.  I have also tried Cheetos and white cheddar popcorn.  The Cheetos and the popcorn can drive my blood sugar up fast (which is a good thing for a 100 miler) but they are both messy and difficult items to eat while running, so I will probably use them during fast walking stints as I leave an aid station.  I also found that adding in a half liter of a mix of Accelerade and Endurox toward the latter miles can help prevent a blood sugar drop, but that mixture doesn’t work well as a main fluid replacement (I get too dehydrated and my tummy gets upset).

I also have to be careful about protecting my feet from blisters and toenail injuries.


My insulin regimen has evolved, too.  I take the normal shot of 10 units of Lantus in the morning along with my normal shot of 1 unit of Regular.  I disconnect from the t:slim and stay disconnected the rest of the day.  I haven’t needed any other insulin for 18 hours on the days of running long in the morning, staying active all day (i.e. yardwork, etc.), and running long at night.  But, 18 hours seems to be the witching hour right now.  I am thinking about taking a teeny, tiny dose of Regular somewhere between 14 and 16 hours if my blood sugar starts creeping up during the 100 miler.  I will draw it up ahead of time just in case.  I am planning on taking a smaller shot of Lantus at night after the 100 miler and using the t:slim to add in whatever extra I might need.  I am afraid of having a dramatic low that night after running so far.  I have tried this setup a few times with the split long runs and so far it’s worked well, but then I need to bump up the extra basal I get from the t:slim over the next few days.  I think there are several reasons why that happens:  the decrease in Lantus that night, the liver reaction of glucagon from that extreme physical effort, the reloading of glycogen stores, the lactic acid release and resulting pH shifts, etc.

Well, I’m less than two weeks to Umstead now.  I can finish 50 miles because I’ve done it a bunch of times already, even on that specific course.  I think I can say with confidence that I can get 100K.  I am pretty sure that 75 miles is within reach.  I don’t know about the extra 25 miles.  I don’t know.  I remember Mike Morton telling me one time when I was pacing for him that if you can make yourself start jogging away down the trail at 75 miles, you’ll be okay, that once you start moving again around that 75 mile mark, you find that you’ve hit a plateau as far as discomfort goes and it just stays steady from there.  He said that you may find you slow way, way down and just can’t make your legs turn over any faster, but that if you can get moving again, you can keep going forward and that it doesn’t get worse from there.  I hope you’re right, Mike!


This, below, is what I want to see!


Happy trails!



Mar 24th, 2014

3 Comments to 'Getting Ready for 100 Miles'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Getting Ready for 100 Miles'.

  1. Roger Hanney said,

    LOVE IT! Great bit, Missy. I’ll be in Melbourne for your race weekend, psychically following your race and cheering for you. You know you can run 50 miles, just make sure it’s the second 50 :)

  2. Marcus said,

    Hi Missy,

    That toe blister looks painful. I was just curious of what type of shoes you wear when training and competing. Do you have any foot conditions that you have to worry about when training?

  3. MissyFoy said,

    Ha! Yeah, I don’t usually get blisters, so that one was ouchy! I switch around on shoes. Right now, I’m wearing some Adidas Road Kanadias. I tried a pair of Saucony a few months ago to see how they felt – I liked them. I used to wear Avia all the time and absolutely loved them. Since I pay for my shoes now, I buy what works. I am lucky to be able to wear anything that is not rigid. Next up, I think I’d like to try some Hokas!

:: Trackbacks/Pingbacks ::

No Trackbacks/Pingbacks

Leave a Reply

Recent Entries




Feed on RSS