“Most athletes’ maximum time allottable to training is limited not by physiology, but by other life commitments.
I believe that the same training that leads to success in 50 milers can lead to success in 100 milers,
ideally with more weeks of consistent training before the longer races.”
coach and experienced runner Adam St. Pierre
I’m training for my first 100miler race, the Javelina Jundred, that will take place on October 28, in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.
My goal for Javelina Jundred is to cover 100 miles (160K) in 24 hours or less. The furthest I ran so far is 90K; the longest I ran is 11 hours (you can find my whole journey here).
For my first few races and ultra’s I was blessed with guidance of my boyfriend at that time, who’s an experienced ultrarunner.
The last few years I trained and improved my performance successfully by myself.
As training for the Javelina Jundred was such a big jump, and it took me so much time and money to make it to the start line, I decided to ask for professional support to get me ready for the challenge.
In July I started training with Carmichael Training Systems (CTS) coach and experienced runner Adam St. Pierre, to prepare smart for Javelina Jundred and get the very best out of myself.
Adam puts my training blocks in such order that I gradually build strength, endurance and speed without getting injured, while taking the rest of my life into account.
I like to give you useful insights of my coaching process and progress. So let me first introduce you to:
Adam St. Pierre as a coach and a runner:
“I have been running since I was 11 years old and joined the track team. Track was my favorite sport in middle school and high school. I was a decathlete so competed in running, jumping, and throwing disciplines through high school. I took up XC skiing as a way to get in better shape for track. In college I decided to focus exclusively on XC skiing. I loved the intricacies of XC skiing- variety of training modes, equipment variables, etc. Pursuing a graduate degree in Exercise Science helped me to realize that coaching is my career.
I have been coaching endurance athletes for over a decade, ranging from youth XC skiers to 70 year old ultra runners and ultra cyclists. I love the uniqueness of each athlete. I spend my winters doing lots of hands on coaching with junior XC skiers and as such can’t really compete skiing anymore. I’ve always enjoyed running trails and realized that running marathons was not my favorite- I wanted to run longer! I ran my first Ultra in 2007- the Leadville Silver Rush 50. In the past 10 years I’ve run a few dozen races- from trail half marathons to 100 milers! I gravitate mostly towards mountain races with technical footing and lots of climbing and descending.”
Training fundamentals to build up a balanced training schedule
“I believe that aerobic fitness is top priority in ultra marathons. To improve aerobic fitness an athlete needs to train most days. The majority of training time is spent at low intensity with periodic high-intensity workouts. Beyond those simple principles comes the nuance- how long? How frequent? How fast? This is where coaching gets fun!”
The basic/essential data that we need to monitor our progress
“Monitoring progress can take many forms. You could race a 5km every month and track your race times. Often this works to a point (mostly for novice runners), but eventually you reach a level where you don’t see big month to month improvements. Experienced athletes often don’t PR every race. Utilizing data like pace, heart rate, and power we can track progress.
Ideally with training you get faster at each workload. For instance, if you could run 6min/km at 140bpm 2 months ago, but now consistently run 5min/km at 140bpm- we could say that you have improved as a runner! This improvement will enable you to sustain faster paces for longer durations and finish races in less time.
The only data worth measuring is the data you look at and utilize! As a coach, it is easiest for me to track an athletes progress if provided with: GPS data for all or most runs, HR data for most or some runs, and subjective feedback like: “This workout felt great, I love running uphill” or “I slept poorly last night, been stressing about a project at work, felt lethargic running.” I’m very interested in running power data and have been utilizing it with a few athletes. In general, any metric that allows you to give context to each workout and compare workouts to each other is valuable.”
Main things to focus on when you move from 100K to 100 mile
“I think there is very little difference in the day to day training for 50 mile, 100k, and 100 mile racing. Most athletes’ maximum time allottable to training is limited not by physiology- but by other life commitments. I believe that the same training that leads to success in 50 milers can lead to success in 100 milers, ideally with more weeks of consistent training before the longer races.
Nutrition is definitely a bigger challenge in longer races and must be practiced a lot more to have success in 100 milers.
Most injuries are related to excessive volume or excessive intensity- often in concert. The best way to prevent injuries is to ensure easy runs are done appropriately easy and hard workouts are limited to 15-25% of total weekly volume. Beyond that, runners will benefit from: addressing strength and mobility limitations, running with appropriate biomechanics, and allocating enough time to recovery within training cycles.”
Gear needed for a 100 miler
“The most important gear for runners are shoes, followed closely by socks. Your feet have to be comfortable! I love Altra shoes. I’ve been an Altra Ambassador for 5 years. The Lone Peak and the Olympus are my favorite models. I love Darn Tough socks. Injinji socks are great too, but I find that my big toes poke out after 30-50 miles of running. I’ve also work DryMax socks and like them.
Beyond shoes and socks you need a method to carry food and water. This is largely dependent on the amount of time you need to be self-sufficient. If aid stations are not far apart, you may not have to carry food/water. In most races a bottle, vest, or pack are necessary. I generally prefer bottles to bladders because of the ease of refilling at aid stations.
I like my Suunto Ambit 3 Peak because it will last for an entire 100 miler at a reasonable data recording rate. I’ve never had to worry about trying to recharge my GPS mid-race or switch watches mid-race. Depending on the time of year, you may need 1-2 good light sources for running. I have always been fine with a headlamp, but some runners prefer to have their light sources on their waist or handheld. I have a Petzl Nao and a Petzl RXP that I’ve been very happy with. I like to set them to shine brightly and plan to swap headlamps (or replace batteries) at some point during the night.”
How/when coaching can make a real difference in our performance
“Many runners find success as self-coached athletes. Often runners seek out a coach when they plateau. When improvements stop coming as rapidly. Following an injury (or repeated injuries). Some runners need the accountability of a coach, some like to have a coach do the heavy thinking and planning so that the athlete can focus on training and recovering. Most athletes I work with do not need the motivation to go run, rather, they need the encouragement to do some harder workouts, the expectation that easy runs will be easy, and the permission to rest when necessary.”
When it is crucial to get a coach
“I think the runners who most need coaches are the extremes. The athletes with very challenging schedules who need to truly maximize every minute of their training. I also think athletes who want to pursue high level performance benefit greatly from having a coach. I think if you have seen a string of poor performances and/or a string of injuries you will likely benefit from working with a coach.
Many athletes work with a coach for 3-6 months prior to an event, but I also work with lots of athletes year round. In a year-round program, we can take a very patient approach, address limitations, and adequately prepare for races and events in the future. If I only work with an athlete for a few months prior to the event, we may not be able to fully address everything- we may have to focus on the race at the expense of becoming a better overall athlete.”
When CTS is the right company to ask for coaching
“CTS was the first company to offer remote based, high level endurance coaching to non-professional athletes. For me as a coach, I like to have the support of the Athlete Services crew who help with accounting, payment, billing, etc. Having the support network of CTS allows me to be a better coach and focus more on my athletes and less on my bank accounts!
From an athlete’s perspective, CTS is great because we’ve got a team of ultra running coaches working collaboratively and pushing each other to improve. Having incredible colleagues like Jason Koop, Corrine Malcolm, David Henry, John Fitzgerald, and AJW to share ideas and strategies, race-specific info, etc. is an amazing resource.”
How CTS makes matches between coaches and athletes
“CTS tries to match athletes with their best fit in a coach. For instance, I tend to work with athletes with a history of injuries because of the years I spent as a running biomechanist and clinical physiologist. I also tend to work well with athletes making the leap to 100 miles for the first time.”
My match with CTS and Adam St. Pierre
I chose for CTS because behind every coach is a whole team of experts, so I benefit from the insights and experience of all of them. CTS has a good reputation and successful results with their athletes.
I was matched with Adam St. Pierre because he has experience with coaching runners to their first 100 miler, and because he’s training more athletes for Javelina Jundred.
I’m very happy with the coaching by Adam as I feel guided, more than being told what to do.
There is a clear and specific training schedule that Adam made for me and that I stick to, but a coach does not take away my own responsibility. I still got to listen to my body, eat the right things, get enough sleep and balance training with the rest of my life. What I really like about being coached by CTS is their holistic approach of all aspects of the race preparation.
In my previous blog I wrote about my reason to run a 100 miler, why I chose for Javelina Jundred, and my motivation to train almost every day for such a crazy long distance.
In my next blog I’ll share how I train for the heat, my nutrition, strength training and how I deal with challenges and some setbacks along the way, so stay tuned!
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Resources / further reading
Adam St. Pierre as a runner
Adam St. Pierre as a coach
Adam’s race report for the Mogollon Monster 100 Mile Endurance Race
Also published on Medium.