How to Prep for a 100 Mile Ultramarathon in Only 3 Months

Garage Gym Athlete
How to Prep for a 100 Mile Ultramarathon in Only 3 Months

Hey, Athletes! How to Prep for a 100 Mile Ultramarathon in Only 3 Months Episode of The Garage Gym Athlete Podcast is up!

How to Prep for a 100 Mile Ultramarathon in Only 3 Months


  • Today, Jerred ultramarathon training
  • He specifically talks how to train for one in only 3 months
  • He gives his recommendations for training and tackling a crazy attempt t
  • And A LOT MORE!!

Diving Deeper…

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To becoming better!

- Jerred

Podcast Transcript

 Danny: Welcome to the garage gym athlete podcast, where we talk about fitness, health, and anything to help you become the most optimal human beings. Let's dive in. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Garage Gym Athlete podcast. Jared Moon here today, and I have something pretty interesting to cover different than what I have in other podcasts.

A few weeks ago, a buddy of mine reaches out and he's, Hey man, I want to do a hundred mile ultra marathon in December. And he's, I want your thoughts. I want to get basically performance consulting, a performance consult from me on what I should do. Whatever, you're listening to this in September, this is a few weeks ago.

So we're talking like legitimately, this guy is talking to me in August. He wants to run a hundred mile race in December. And so he, he, he comes to me, he wants to talk about it. And you're like, well, why would he be reaching out to me? I have never done an ultra marathon. I've done a marathon, but never an ultra.

So going above the marathon mark. And so why would he want to talk to me? The only reason he really wanted to talk to me is because I'm the only person dumb enough to do really long races completely untrained. I've talked about this in other podcasts, but I did the marathon untrained, I've done 100 mile bike races untrained, like, I've done Spartan races fairly untrained, like, I've done all these things untrained.

And so I just know a little bit more about what it's like to walk into these things, not having done the training. And I also have enough knowledge about endurance and strength training and everything else to be able to help with the programming and the fueling strategies and everything else. And so.

That's why he came to me. I have enough knowledge to do it and I don't know if I'll ever do an ultramarathon 100 miles But I'll see how my buddy holds up and how he does before I decide to do one but on top of You know him reaching out to me just because I know how to go through the pain and I know how to prep for those Things even though there's no real training preparation He also is a fairly muscular dude strong dude and doesn't want to lose a ton of muscle mass No size or strength in the process of preparing for this thing.

So he also came to me. So very unique situation. So I got to consult on a hundred miler and I'm helping him, helping him prep to the best of my ability. And I want to go over what I told him, just in case you're ever crazy enough to consider doing something completely untrained and maybe it will help you in the future.

So the first thing I told him. Was, don't do it. And I would do the same to anybody else. So a a little background, when I did the a hundred mile, or not the a hundred mile, not the a hundred mile bike race, the, uh, marathon. It was the marathon. I did that completely untrained. And what I don't talk about as much is after the fact, I had some very irregular heartbeats and it was fairly scary because back then when I did that, I didn't know anything about zone training.

I didn't know anything about heart rate training. I was just running at what I felt was a comfortable pace. I'm sure some of it was zone 2, zone 3, zone 4, like I probably fluctuated all over the place, but in all honesty, I was probably keeping my heart rate way too high for way too long. And it's not going to be anywhere close to the length of time this guy is going to be doing it.

And I had irregular heartbeats after that and it was, I didn't end up in the hospital or anything, but it did scare me. And so I told him, I was like, look, dude, I, I ultimately at this point in my life and in my career, I just recommend that you don't do it. Like I understand the whole mental toughness and fortitude side of things, but.

Uh, I would rather you not do it and not stress your heart and end up with some real problems. So, I didn't want that to happen to him, and he's, basically, I'm doing it no matter what. Like, I'm doing it. And so, I couldn't talk him out of it, I couldn't talk him out of doing this fairly untrained. And so, I was like, okay, I'll help you to the best of my ability, but just know going in, ultimately, I don't think that you should do it.

And if you are gonna do it, you gotta follow my rules of everything I'm about to go over. And so that's a conclusion we, we came to. So I want everybody to know that there's real dangers in doing these kind of things. You, your body is not a machine that can just take red lining for, for a hundred miles when you've never trained before, or you haven't trained for it.

So know that there's actual real dangers in running your heart rate near max for long periods of time. All right, so after we move that caveat out of the way, how do we start prepping for this thing? I'll give you a little background on my buddy. He is not a runner. Okay, so he does not run, doesn't run really at all, like maybe a couple of miles here and there, but he is not a runner.

He is primarily a strength athlete. He's very strong and muscular and he's fairly well conditioned. I don't think he's out of shape by any means. I think he does some other conditioning modalities and stuff, but he's just not a runner. He's not logging like 30, 50, 100 mile weeks or anything like that.

He's not a runner. And like I said, one of his big goals, he's like, as I prep for this, I don't want to lose a lot of strength and muscle mass. So also you should know what type of athlete we're talking about. So the first thing I recommended as we were diving in was just the actual programming side of things.

I was like, we're going to have to find out what the max mileage is that you can take per week before things start hurting, because most people, if I was just recommending you getting into running, I would not have the same recommendations, but when we're like on a collision course, I'm just trying to mitigate a complete.

Epic fail and like serious injuries. So I'm doing my best to try and help this person not just have the wheels fall off, but ultimately there's going to be pain in the training and there's going to be pain. And so we had to start with their start there. Normally I would recommend people start with very low mileage, even just a five week, five miles a week, and then bump up from there.

But I was like, we need to find out what your max mileage is per week. And I think we landed on around. He was at about 15 to 20 miles per week. He could jump straight up to that. I think it was around 20 miles per week without a ton of discomfort. Like his knees were hurting a little bit and some lower back issues.

Again, not my favorite that those things are popping up already, but it wasn't like pushing him over the edge. And I was like, okay, that's where the max is. Like, maybe we back down just a little bit off of that. If it was 20, let's just go down to 18, hold there. Two to three weeks, make sure that nothing actually breaks.

And then we'll start ramping things up. Typically I recommend people ramp up five to 10%. Uh, their mileage, like 10 percent per week, if you want to increase mileage. But with him, I was saying 10 to 20 percent per week jumps each week with having to do some really long duration runs in there. If we were going to do a 20 mile, just for an example, if we did 20 miles in a week, I'd want your long run to be like seven, eight miles, maybe even 10 miles.

And then you spread out the other 10 just in. To three miles here, those kind of things because we need to get more time on our feet ultimately, and that's one of the biggest things I'm thinking about is we need to get a lot of time. I would call it time under tension and strength training, but I'll call it the same thing in endurance training.

We just need time on our feet, time under tension, and you get pound the pavement and see what that feels like. for doing that hours on end. So that was typical. That was the main thing I told him. I'm not as concerned with speed work. Like right now in my own training, I try to do at least one day per week of speed work for VO two max training, those kinds of things actually increase my speed for him.

I'm not as concerned with that. I kind of left that optional. I wanted most of his runs, like 90 percent of his runs in zone two. And I walked him through math zone to all that kind of stuff, things you've already heard on the podcast recently. So I made sure. That he was going to be in zone two for all of these runs and that he was going to be increasing his mileage.

So we found the breaking point and then we're increasing about 20 percent per week until we get to the max that we want, maybe 50 mile weeks, something like that. Next, we talked about fueling strategies. So. So, he does a lot of fasting, just intermittent fasting and longer fasts, and I was like, we're probably just going to have to cut that out.

I think in some regards it's fine, but if you have to make sure that you're getting enough calories, and with one of his biggest concerns being muscle loss or strength loss, I was like, you, you have to make sure, one, you're increasing your caloric demand. So you just need to be creating eating more calories I was like if you can do that while fasting then you can keep doing it But it might make your life easier just to not fast like just eat the food Make sure you're getting enough calories and enough protein So those were the the main things that we talked about was making sure that he had a lot of carbohydrates Uh, that he was comfortable getting more than normal carbohydrates.

Sometimes that can be more of a mental struggle if you're like already, uh, really dialed in athlete. So I talked to him about getting a lot of carbohydrates, increasing his carbohydrate intake, and we got more specific into like his actual macronutrients and how many he was taking, but I don't think that's, that matters here because it'd be so different every single person.

But let's just say we bumped up his carbohydrates by 20%. And then I talked to him about electrolytes, making sure that he's getting more than enough, uh, electrolytes throughout the day, especially because he's still doing some strength training and lifting and stuff and running. And so I talked to him about electrolytes, carb loading, carbs during, especially longer runs, because there's no way you're going to do a hundred mile race without eating.

And you also have to find out what your stomach is okay with. While you're running a race. And so I don't care if you're trying that in a five mile run, a 10 mile run, a 15 mile run, you need to find out what your body is basically going to allow you to have, because you're not really in control. Your stomach's in control at that point.

So you have to find out what your stomach will allow, and you don't want to be in a hundred mile race at mile 70. And find out a cheeseburger doesn't really work for me because it's not going to work for most people. And so that's one thing that you really have to factor in there. So you could talk, we could talk about supplementation.

There are a lot of carbohydrate supplements I've been mentioning in the podcast lately. Making sure that you're good with bananas and like all these other things that you could be ingesting. And not just like jumping to bagels and cream cheese and all this other stuff. Whatever you're going to have, you need to.

You need to plan out and you need to start testing, ingesting it during the run. So that was a big thing is I always recommend without athletes are doing races of any kind. Don't change anything up on game day. That's game day is not the day where we're like, I'm going to try this new supplement. I've never tried, or I'm going to have way more caffeine than I've ever had before.

Or I'm going to try a new pair of shoes or a new pair of socks. That's not when this crap happens. You need to know how your body responds to different carbohydrates, different supplements, different caffeine amounts, if you're gonna take caffeine, all that. You need to know that going in and don't try anything new.

And so that's why if I'm like running a race and someone offers me something like an electrolyte tab or whatever, I'm sure it's fine, but ultimately I haven't tested it, so I'm like, nah, I'm good. I got my fueling strategy, I'm just gonna stick with it. And so that was the basics of the fueling strategies, mainly finding out what your body can work with.

A big thing that you want to do if you do fast or if you're not eating enough calories, Carbo, carb loading is a real thing, but it can become unnecessary after a certain point. Your body stores carbohydrate in the form of glycogen in your muscle tissue and your liver, but you can only hold so much. So once it's full, but you never really know, like, when am I, when I'm, when am I full?

There's not like, There's not like a test you can take or whatever and be like, Oh yeah, my glycogen is full. So you really just want to start loading up on the carbohydrates a couple of days before the race begins more carbohydrates than normal. If we already bumped it up 20, maybe bump it up another 20%.

Just for the couple of days leading up to the race. So you know that you have plenty of carbohydrates and your glycogen stores or are topped off. But again, your glycogen stores are going to get depleted pretty fast in a race of this distance. So it doesn't really matter if they're fully topped off a hundred percent, that'll help you towards the beginning, but not anywhere after that.

So you have to definitely know what your intra fueling strategy is going to be. So now let's talk about the fact that he didn't want to lose any muscle mass. Or strength. What were my recommendations there? He is big into strength training. Specifically, lifting heavy weights. And, uh, doing that for reps and stuff.

My recommendation with the volume of adding a ton of volume of running and then still wanting to lift because we're not trying to cut it out for him specifically. My recommendation was to switch to more hypertrophy based training. And so, hypertrophy is more muscle growth. Again, so we're talking about lighter loads, lifted.

You're going for a pump in the muscle. You want maybe that's 10 reps, 12 reps. It's very dependent. A really hypertrophy training, in my opinion, is more of an art. Then it is a science like, uh, like powerlifting would be, or strength training is. When you're getting that pump, 10 to 15 reps, whatever, when you really feel it, the muscle burn is there.

Those are all the things you're looking for in hypertrophy. So I recommended he switched because I feel like if he switched to hypertrophy training, and then he still gets just enough stimulus on the strength side, because it doesn't take a lot to maintain strength. So he's not like trying to PR strength training.

He's just trying not to regress too much. Even a little bit of regression would be fine, but he's just trying not to regress too much. Switching him to hypertrophy based training. Seeing just enough strength training stimulus, so still getting like a heavy squat, either just one set of three at 80%, two sets of three at 80%, something like that.

Just a super low volume, but we still see the stimulus, but ultimately 80, 90% of our volume. Preferably 90 percent of our volume is going to be hypertrophy based training. So this is going to help him maintain his strength and especially his muscle mass just by switching his training. And the reason I recommend that is because strength training by itself is incredibly demanding.

Hypertrophy training, building muscle is not near as demanding. Strength training has a significant load on your central nervous system. And on top of the significant CNS load, It's just actually really hard on your body. It's hard on your joints. It's hard on your spine. Like it's just, it's a fairly hard sport to continue for long periods of time.

Powerlifting and strength training with really heavy loads is very hard on the body. Hypertrophy, not as much. You can move to isolation exercises. You can just focus on one muscle group in a day. Your body recovers a lot faster. It's not near as hard on the body. So that was another big reason I wanted to maintain the muscle mass and the strength.

But when you're doing all of this endurance volume, that's really hard on the body too. I forgot what the impact of a single step is on the, when you hit the concrete, but it's several times your body weight. Every time you slam into the concrete, every step you take on a run. So it's very demanding. On the lower half of your body.

So we don't need also really demanding strength training on top of that. So that's why I rec recommended he switched more to hypertrophy. So let's build, let's go to muscle building mode, lower our volume a little bit. I mean, our intensity a little bit on the strength training side, and you can increase the volume on isolation exercises while we're getting the loads in.

And then other than the type of training. Back to nutrition, I recommended that he go up to about 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Typically, I recommend 1 gram per pound of lean body mass, but for him, I just, I wanted as much protein as possible, so we went up to 1 gram per pound of protein, 1 gram per pound of body weight for him on protein, trying to get as close to that as possible.

I recommended that he get on creatine. Just to force more hydration into the muscle tissue that will help him maintain some muscle mass as he's going through this process and then also low heart rate training, which I already talked about, but it's. You're much less likely to lose a ton of muscle mass if you are doing Predominantly low intensity training.

You're it's not going to be as metabolically demanding Your body's not going to be looking for other resources that it could burn. It's pretty much going to be If you can maintain, we talked about lactate and all that stuff. If you can maintain aerobic metabolism and stay in zone two, your body can do that for very long periods of time without needing a massive fuel sources or anything else.

So you'll maintain more muscle mass if you stay in the lower intensity zones. And that was everything from all the recommendations I had to make sure that he maintained. Uh, lean body tissue and also maintain as much strength as he possibly could. Next, I talked more about strategy and some of his longer duration runs.

There's no reason to try and be a hero in a race like this, or even in your training, if you haven't been running at all. And I tell you, Hey, you got to do a 15 miler this weekend. Even though you don't want to, I'm not saying that you have to run all 15 miles. So we talked about just implementing a really solid run walk strategy, just, but like it being an actual strategy, not like I'm so exhausted.

I'm going to start walking. Now I'm talking about from the very start of the race or even the start of your long runs. Go in knowing what your strategy is, and this also helps mentally. So you could be like, you know what? I'm going to do four minutes on in zone two, and then I'm going to do four minutes off in walking and walking.

You may be at some point that would become zone two, but for most people walking might be zone one, but for a hundred miles, that's going to, that's going to compound pretty fast. So maybe it's four minutes on four minutes off, maybe five minutes on five minutes off, 10 minutes on 10 minutes off, whatever you want.

Or maybe if you're more conditioned, do you think you can handle a bit more? Maybe you do 10 minutes running, five minutes walking, something like that. But I would keep to a strategy and I might even have the strategy change in different portions. Like first 25 miles, I do this next 25 miles. I do this.

And again, you're playing the short game, long game here. So we have the long game of trying to finish the a hundred miles. But how can I condense that to just focusing on the next four minutes, the next 10 minutes, the next five steps where I'm not focusing about this big, massive finish. And so a run walk strategy, you can even start to implement this, like I said, in your long run.

So if you were, if you did try to do like a 20 mile run, just immediately implement the strategy. Don't wait until you get tired for the run walk strategy, because at that point, you're probably already a little bit too jacked up. So the point is self preservation. You're trying to preserve yourself for as long as possible in the race.

Cause. The goal here is finishing the race. So you just got to make sure your pacing is going to finish. Cause there's a cutoff to when they'll allow him to finish. If you could take too long, they typically don't let you finish these races because they know it's getting dangerous. So a run, walk, paced appropriately strategy can help you finish the race.

If you start it from the beginning, if you ran the first 63 miles. And then you're just so burnt out that you're like, just limping along the last 37 miles. That's not a helpful strategy. That's not a run walk strategy. That's, I ran until I basically couldn't, and now I'm gonna walk to try and finish. Not a strategy.

So I just want to be real clear. It's typically something you implement from the second you start the race. Some sort of on off material. Uh, or strategy that you can go back and forth on. So it's definitely something you want to implement if you're thinking about these, something I implemented or definitely recommended for him.

Next again, just going down that self preservation thought process. So finding hotspots on the body and knowing how to address them and also finding them in your training runs. So again, like I said, 100 mile race is not the time for new shoes or new socks or clothes you've never worn before it would be, I would find the, the lightest pair of shorts.

I would wear them on all my long runs. I would make sure that there's no chafing, no rubbing, nothing happens when I have, when I wear these shorts or these, my shorts, okay, those are my race day shorts, same with my shoes. I might have two pair of running shoes training up for this of the same. The same kind.

So the same exact pair and I would switch off back and forth. That way I don't have. A torn down shoe by the time I get to the race, but instead I've, I've put 50 percent of the mileage on both. And then I'm just going to pick one the day of the race. They're already broken in. I'm comfortable with them.

They're good. And if I already know, Hey, in these socks and these shoes, I don't really get blisters, so I'm not too worried about it. Cool. Then just keep moving on. You don't have to worry about it as much, but do know that's going to happen. So you might have to change out your socks a couple of different times during the race.

Those kind of things are something that you definitely have to think about and, um, plan for, but ultimately in my training I would make sure I find hotspots. Like is the, is the shirt I'm wearing going to rub my nipples? Do I need to cover my nipples? Do I need to find a better shirt? Like all of those things need to be addressed in training.

And then also, You're going to end up having to address those because a hundred miles is really far. You're going to end up with hotspots. So typically like Vaseline is going to be your friend, like rubbing in between legs, or if you are getting any hotspots, any kind of lubrication to make sure that those spots don't get any worse because I've been in situations like in the military, so I've never done a hundred mile race, but I've done training where that lasts.

Several days and there's very little sleep so I know how these things work And especially with a heavy pack and boots and all those kind of things That's normally the worst of it that had always been the worst of it for me. It's i'm good I I don't care that I only slept three hours or I haven't eaten that much Where I have this heavy load, I'm pissed off that I have a blister on my heel because now I know I'm doing this for eight more hours.

I'm marching for eight more hours and I have a blister on my heel. Those are the things that end up sucking the most in these really long duration events. is those little tiny things like that. So making sure you have a plan for those. Again, the second one pops up, you address it. You don't wait until it becomes a problem.

So finding those hot spots in training and then also during the race. Making sure that you address them during the race very fast. The second they pop up, deal with them. Either wrap them up or like I said, apply lubrication, change clothes, whatever you have to do to make sure that's not going to compound and get a lot worse.

Now, the last thing he asked me about sleep, and this was a huge judgment call that you, when you do these longer races, you, you have the option to sleep. Right? Like I'm sure the best out there in the world are so fit that they're not having to think about or consider sleeping during these races, but it's definitely going to be an opportunity for someone doing a really long race like this.

And I think that you could get a quick nap. You could like, I would want to do that earlier, like maybe the midway point, something like that. I would not want to do that later. And I wouldn't want to sleep for a very long period of time. I would want to, your body will probably immediately go into deep sleep, which probably be good.

I would want to get some deep sleep and then probably forcefully wake myself up at the three to four hour mark. If I even slept for that long and then get, get moving again. To be honest, a lot of this would be. If I was sitting down to do this myself, and my main goal was just to finish, I would calculate out what I think my best case scenario pacing would be, my worst case scenario pacing would be, and then have a plan for each.

So when I'm in the race, be like, I'm at my best case pacing scenario, and in that scenario I could fit in this much sleep at this point in the race. Like, I would do that ahead of time. And then same with worst case scenarios, like worst case scenario, I don't get to sleep or I get to sleep this much, whatever.

So I would have contingency plans and I'd plan all those things out. But one thing I did mention to him was like, if you're getting towards feeling like you need to sleep, but we're getting towards the end of the race, not a lot of people would make that decision to do that. But the main thing about sleeping or resting.

Is that's when everything's going to really blow up and that's one thing I've known to be true about myself and everyone else is that once you finally take a break and you stop doing the thing, your body will start to try and heal itself because you're taking it through a really terrible and hard ordeal.

So your ankles are going to be swollen, your knees, like your back, everything's going to be hurting probably to a level that you've never felt before and so you're going to not want to stop moving. For long periods of time and have all of that crap happen because it's really hard to get moving again.

Once you, once you take a break, once you stop, I remember some guys in the military, they might get hurt and they might hurt, roll their ankle really bad or something like that. And the, the advice, uh, and I'm no physical therapist or anything, but the advice from the military at that time. Was don't take the boot off because what happens when guys would take their boots off when they got hurt It would immediately swell back up.

It would swell up really massive We can't get the boot back on and while swelling might be a great reaction For the human body to immobilize tissue and all that I get it But if you're in a situation out in the middle of nowhere where we just need to get somebody to safety It'd be better to have the boot on so I ran into situations like that in the military where it's better to leave the boot on We'll deal with the like full issue later But if we take the boot off it's gonna swell and then you're barefoot in the forest and that that might be worse So things like that start to happen and so I'm not talking about pushing through injury necessarily, but things do swell up So like last mileage of that race, I'm leaving my shoes on not changing anything unless I absolutely have to try to ignore as much of the the pain points as I can and just But at the end of the day, he's not doing this to try and be competitive.

He just wants to finish and he's going to learn a lot about himself in the process and about pain and pushing through pain. And I think that there's a lot to be said about that. Now, while I think there's still a lot of dangers to doing a race like this, my main recommendation for him. Was again, a run, walk strategy, and I would keep it in zone two for as long as I possibly could.

And zone two is not typically how you race zone two is how you train. And then zone three is typically a race pace. And then you go up to zone four occasionally, if you need to push it, that's typically how it's best coached to go through races of any kind, but a race like this. I want to be in zone one or zone two and see if I can finish, see if I'm fit enough to maintain zone two and finish.

I might go up to zone three if I'm like nearing the end, but what's going to happen when your body is starting to break down, we're talking about swelling and inflammation and just prolonged activity, little rest, the diet's different, hydration's different. You, your body's going to start to struggle so you could end up being in zone three at a brisk walk because your body is going to be so fatigued and it's going to be so hard to keep pushing forward and so you're, you really have to factor those things in.

So that's why I ultimately said, Hey, I would just try and stay in zone two. I wouldn't go out at some sort of zone three race pace and then. You know what, that turns into zone four, zone five when you're at the end and then you just wouldn't, you wouldn't actually be able to finish is what would happen.

And so I would stay in zone one or zone two for as long as I possibly could. And again, do the math. Am I going to be able to finish? Is this even realistic? And do all that math even ahead of time or even during the race to calculate if you need to move differently. But there definitely is some. Danger going into these kinds of races untrained.

So he's got a couple months to knock it out. I actually will probably have him on the podcast considering he follows all my advice and he finishes. If all those things come in, come to fruition, I will have him on the podcast. We'll talk about the experience, the training, the lead up and all of those kinds of things.

But those were all my recommendations. Someone for prepping for a hundred mile race with little to no training. And you have about three ish months. To get it all done. So if any of you are crazy enough to go out there and do it safety first But ultimately those are some of my thoughts and considerations for all of our athletes out there Out there doing the training really appreciate you and being part of the community If you want to find out what real training looks like and be a part of everything that we're doing at garage gym athlete Go to garagegymathlete.

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