The more you run, the better runner you become. The more you train aerobically the more you increase mitochondrial density, size and efficacy. The lungs are organs with a surface of a tennis court. They can breathe if demand is pressured. However if there is no demand, because there are no mitochondria, not enough blood volume and RBC, not enough muscle fibre density and so on, lungs will function accordingly at lower levels. So, when you run around 100miles a week, it becomes actually timewise a pretty sweet-spot for aerobic efficacy. If correctly balanced with recoveries and ran at correct intensities, anabolic / catabolic functions can be still at bay, hunger can be controlled, fatigue can be well handled. Of course, it is even better to run faster and to run 200km or 250km a week for long periods. However, that is reserved to people who do only that. Running. As the more you run, the more auxiliary work you must do to counterbalance the impact, the catabolism and the forward motion. That becomes a full time job, where for instance sleep and napping is part of your job.
In reality, if we talk about a non-elite runner, 100mi a week would take up around 15 to 18 hours in the very beginnig. That includes some jogging and low level warming up speed running over 10km/h – 6:00/km. A lot of training in between 5:00 – 6:00/km pace. Some work under 5:00/km and little work under 4:00/km. Anyways, we talk about transitioning.
So, of course to start out with a 100mile week, you must be a runner. I do not propose my ideas to somebody coming from 20km a week or a couch potato program. I also say a runner, so a biomechanically sound athlete, who listens and understands to his own body, who has patience. Secondly, but also as importantly, the athlete attempting a fast 100mile a week transition, must have access to soft surfaces. The moment you apply this to 100% concrete running you will start suffering debilitating injuries, if not straight away, then down the line. You need at least 4 pairs of shoes, rotate them and count miles in them. A very sound runner can do 1000km in shoes. Over 500km of course, no more long runs and speedwork, just easy running and pre-track warm up in those used sneakers.
So, our hypothetical runner should be running already efficaciously 40 to 60km a week for years on end with no injuries of course. Each run should start with sound mobility and warming up drills and should be finished with functional flexibility. Daily easy strength and conditioning should be done as well. Not much. 10minutes min 20 top. No skimping on this !
First of all, you need time. If you had no time, you cannot. It is that simple. You cannot sleep less, work less, have less money or skip house work, you cannot shave time off from obligatory stuff. You need free time. Not only free time for your run, but for the preparation and for the post run downtime too. Imagine, that you save up 15hours a week, but you do not have one single second after you runs to sit down, rehydrate and refuel. Imagine that you must jump into your car and start working after a 20miler, than run home, get the kids, get home, cook, clean, prepare for next day, go for a recovery run again at 22pm, back home, shower, eat, sleep, wake up, run…It would be just a hampster-wheel. No ! You need real time, real free time ! In reality that is the only requirement. The rest can be learnt, applied and acquired.
Often simple habits can be changed or ignored to save even up to 20hours a week. For instance in the morning prepping and drinking a coffee can take up to 20minutes. You can ignore this, drink water and dress up, or can have a timer built-in coffee machine, so the coffee is ready before you woke up. 10minutes long showers can be down to 3minutes. Batch cooking for the day or week can save up time too. Knowing the location of local organic shops to have fresh snacks of fruits and veggies at hand all the time. Changing job, working from home, or run-commuting. Tv time should be cut out. In reality most people can save up to 25hours a week. I have a friend who is doing twice Cannes – St Tropez Daily. That can be in peak periods up to 5 hours of commuting a day. This is what he is ready to pay to get 4 times as much money as I do. He trains 4 x 90min a week, always injured and disappointed.
Either ways, you must have time. Also you should want to do this. You should be enjoying. I think about running as a self expression. I think about running as my art. I think about running as me. I do not think about this as a must or something I do. I absolutely have been loving this sport for well over 15 years. Time and mental fortitude !
The how to
It is very simple. Let’s say you run 70km a week. Add 1km of speed walking before and after each run. that is 14km. If you could find a green and safe area, like an inner track or grass field, you can add 3km, very easy running barefoot every single day. That can be walking 100m/jogging 100m. This is 21km. You add 2 speedwalks slash hiking of 10km a week. You add 10km of walking to your weekend long run and 5km of walking to your midweek long run. That is 35km. I like walking because I can listen to audiobooks or podcasts and learn a tremendous amounts. I can attack the hills and the trails straight out of the door. When I am in peak shape, I am able to walk over 6km/h and time to time on fresh legs I can walk 7km/h for 2 to 3 hours. That is 15km in 2h and 10minutes. Of course to have some minor strength and conditioning effects, I walk with a little backpack of 3 to 8kg and use poles.
You add all together, you are already at 140km. Doing double days where the first run is walk dominated can be added. Doing triple days or even quadruple active days can be also very effective. Why ? If you ran 4 times a day, the runs are so close, that warming and cooldown time can be drastically cut down. I don’t talk about sessions. I talk about a 10km proper morning run. 3 hours later you go out and do a quality 4km recovery run. 2hours later again you would be out on a little 3km run with quality light stair climbing repeats, than in the evening you go out again for an aerobic dynamic 5km.
Step two after a month. For that first month it is possible that your walking volume will be even higher than your running volume. It feels like slow and daunting. However, even only after this single month, if you tapered down to a race, the results would be very positive.
What you do is simply, gradually change walking volume to running volume. I find that the pre and post run speedwalks are brutally efficacious as injury prevention. On single or double days, keep those. However if you did those 10km nordic walks or speedhikes, slowly starting from the middle, you can change down 2km to jogging. Then 4km, than 8km. This will save time.
If you had questions and ideas, please post it down under. It is of course a little bit more complicated than this, simply because of individuality. For sure a little heart rate control, technique check, shoe check, sleep check, nutrition check, knowledge check on run educative and recovery drills and son should be done.
100 miles is in reality a magic number. When it becomes quality, together with auxiliary work, it would take up around 25hours a week. With 5 x 8 and 2 x 10 hours of daily sleep this would be 85hours total. 83 hours rest for a 40hour work week. That means that in reality you still have 43hours to manage commuting, prep, cleaning, family time, weekend travel. Can you see how time slips out of the hands of people ? It is like zone 3 in running. People should be in Zone 1/2 or zone 3. Do it or do not ! I come home from a run and would need to eat and recover. Instead of turning on the TV and listening to fake news, I can sleep 15min on my acupressure mat, while my legs are lifted and suspended on the wall. Instead of a 15min phone call with a friend, I can prepare a batch of veggie-rice. Time slips away !
100miles is a magic number, however, not being slave to it is also key. There might be a week or two what becomes very hectic. You might run only 142km, but the week after you would be really free, so the midweek medium long run can become a proper long run and the weekend long run can transform to a long mountain adventure for a total of 179km. Or simply you keep on running 100miles and that 142km week serve simply as an adjustment period. Say not to being a slave, but say no to slacking off too !
Also, you might find that light pain signals pop up. That is no issue, but normal. If you did nothing, nothing would happen to you ! However you run and you want to progress! The most important is immediate reaction. Do not shuffle around limping. No point ! Find a movement what can be practiced with no pain, the closest to running possible. Often this can mean fast walking. Fast uphill walking. Fast downhill walking. Or even uphill running. Often simply changing surface can have drastic effect. Maybe you run way too technical all the time. Maybe on the contrary, you run uniform surfaces all the time. Maybe all your shoes are too light or they are the same model or have the same properties. For instance all are zero drop or all are 10mm drop. I like having zero, 2mm 3mm 4mm and max 6mm drop shoes in the rotation. I use trail shoes and road shoes. I like shoes with absolute no structure, but some with heel counter and welded overlays and more rigid sole.
That is it. For 100mile weeks and drastic progression you don’t need to be a hero. What you need is time. Time for the sport itself, but time for learning too. A 50km a week runner can be up to 100miles in 3 weeks and can hold on for long long periods with no injuries. He just would need time on hand and to enjoy running.