When it comes to running ultras Hal Koerner knows what he is talking about. He’s won the Western States Endurance Run twice and has finished more than a 100 ultras. So, when he says you need to learn how to run when you are tired in order to finish a 100 mile race, you listen:
It isn’t realistic to run 100K or 100 miles in training or even get close to that distance like you would for a 50K, but you can gradually increase your daily averages as well as long runs to help harden the mind and body for the extreme distance. There will be countless four and five hour-plus runs approaching a 100K or 100-miler whereas the 50K distance is a little more forgiving…Training on tired legs will become the norm and you’ll want to experience the highs and lows your body has to offer in order to better be prepared for such encounters on race day.
I’m not at the ‘countless’ four and five hour run level just yet, but I have run for four hours yesterday, and the day before yesterday, too. It’s no surprise, then, that I my legs were tired today. Add the fact that I got very little sleep last night and, indeed, didn’t even get to bed before midnight on Sunday with my return to France being rather late, and the tired legs were matched by tired everything else. Still, I’m sure I’ll be more tired and feel far worse at points in the +100 mile Ultratour du Leman later in the year so I might as well suck it up. I can do anything for an hour if I really have to, and today I had to.
After a long day at work that began at 7:30am and stretched through to after 5:00pm I changed into a pair os shorts, threw on a shirt and a jacket (it’s overcast and a little windy, plus it has pockets for wallet and phone), and headed out to run home. I had no real distance goal and no real pace goal other than ‘keep moving’ as my legs were heavy, my head tired, and I was less than happy in general. Anything under 6:00 pace would be fine with me, and as long as I was home in an hour I would be content.
I left work the regular way I like to depart, hooking through the Parc de Gerland to pick up a couple of kilometers in the park and on the softer trail before having to decide where to go when I got to the Point Raymond Barre:
- Straight ahead and I would be heading along the barges and dealing with the crowds.
- Across the bridge and I could hook around Confluence along the Saone to home with fewer people.
- Across the bridge and then across the second bridge to Mulatiere and I could trace the Saone almost alone.
No surprise: I went with the third option.
After crossing over to the Confluence Museum I looped behind it, then cut through the underpass to the Cours Charlemagne where I could connect with the bridge to Mulatiere. Shortly after crossing over I hit the stairs because, well, if your legs are tired and you are generally fatigued, why not throw in a set of stairs, too? After the up and the down, I continued down the Saone listening to the East Coast Trail and Ultra Podcast guys before crossing back into Lyon, crossing over the road, and passing beneath the Old City. I continued along the Saone, avoided the end-of-day traffic, and then crossed over the river again at Saint Paul. The final couple of traffic lights, the final stretch down to the Place des Jacobins, and I was done.
A ten kilometer run on tired legs? Hal would be proud.