A few weeks ago, bald runner introduced the concept of the 100km challenge. The idea was to run 100km in 4 days (for more info, click here). It was to test whether a runner/jogger has already done enough base training and is thus ready to start doing speed/interval training. At that time, I knew I wasn’t ready to do the challenge so I reprogrammed my training and focused on my base training.
The past few weeks, I did just that, focusing only on base training… running at aerobic pace for increasing periods of time. However, after joining a few races this month, it just felt so good to be running a bit faster than usual. Of course I also felt a bit guilty since I had promised myself that I would only do so if I were to be able to complete the challenge. So when a break in my schedule surfaced, I decided to attempt this challenge and test myself. I had to slightly modify the schedule though, starting with a 5k in day 1, but ending with 20-25k double in the fourth day.
Day 1 – 5km (pm)
Day 2 – 10km (am) + 10 km (pm)
Day 3 – 15km (am) + 15km (pm)
Day 4 – 20km (am) + 25km (pm)
Key Points Learned
1. Patience is a must
My goal for the whole challenge was to run it only at aerobic pace (6:10-6:30min/km), so that I wouldn’t need too long a recovery after every run. That’s why one of the biggest challenges at the start (especially the 5 km segment) was that it was just so tempting to blitz it. However, I was able to control myself since I knew that if I had ran this at a faster pace, I might not have enough left in my tanks for the upcoming longer distances.
2. Determination will bring you home
Running increasing distances, twice a day is more mentally taxing than it is physical. Since I wasn’t running fast, I wasn’t excessively tired after each run. What made the challenge difficult was to make myself wake-up early in the morning, everyday. Also, finding new running routes to make the running more interesting also added to the difficulty. It’s a bit more difficult to wake up in the morning to run knowing that the area you’re running is the same segment you’ve been running the past few days. Also, by running alone, I eventually ran out of topics to discuss with myself. And when I had to focus just on running, I got tired mentally. The only thought that kept me running during the last few kilometers of the final 25km run was that I was already completing the challenge and that I was going home. Because of that thought, this part was where I ran the happiest 😀
3. Carboloading with Complex Carbs
The body’s preferred source of energy when running at aerobic pace is fat, sparing its glycogen stores. Since I was running at this pace, I didn’t have to do the traditional carboloading before and after each run. What I did was to do continuous carboloading, which is eating more carbohydrates all through out the day. However, as much as possible, I only ate complex carbohydrates, whole grains, red or brown rice, and fruits. Unlike refined simple carbs (eg white rice), these complex carbs are absorbed slower, hence they didn’t make me drowsy after eating and they provided me with a steady source of energy for a longer period of time. And what I’ve noticed is that by eating these types of carbs, I don’t become hypoglycemic as fast as before, even during a strenous run.
The importance of hydration is emphasized in every running book I’ve scanned, and from my experience, it really is that important. During my runs, I made sure that I had enough water with me to keep me well hydrated (having the camelbak really helps!). And what I’ve noticed is that the end of runs isn’t as taxing as compared to when you are dehydrated. My legs still had some spring in them and I didn’t feel as tired. After run hydration is also important as it helps promote healing and the washing away of toxic products of metabolism through the urine. After a run, I’d oftentimes drink at least 5 liters of fluid (water, gatorade, propel) the whole day, and I think that has helped me recover much faster.
Now that I’ve done the 100km challenge, I know that I am now ready to include some speed/interval training to augment my base training. However, running long will still be the backbone of my training. Completing the 100km challenge is one cool achievement, but in reality, it’s just one small step. Yup, I was able to run 100km in four days, which sounds daunting, but by next April, I’ll be attempting to run that same distance… in just under 15 hours!