White man in a yellow jacket with water bottles strapped to his chest runs across a desert against a mountain backdrop

How to run 100 miles

Words: Megan Michelson
Photos: Fredrik Marmsater/Courtesy of Buff 

Here’s how to keep pushing onward and upward even when every muscle in your body tells you to stop

“You’re guaranteed to reach a point where you feel like you can’t go any further. But then, somehow, you push past it,” says Anton Krupicka. “For me, that’s a big aspect of why 100-miles races are so compelling.”

Krupicka has had a lot of time to think about what drives him to the finish line. He ran his first marathon when he was 12. A cross country and track runner through college, he discovered ultra marathons after graduating. In his first ultra marathon, the Leadville 100, he won the race and got the course’s second fastest time. Now 32 and living in Boulder, Colorado, Krupicka is known for logging 90 miles in a weekend, wearing nothing but running shoes and shorts, and scrambling up a 2,500-vertical-foot mountain three times before breakfast.

1. Run, Then Run Some More

“Of course you need to log a lot of miles, but you don’t need to run seven days a week. Cross train and take days off, to help reduce your risk of injury. Make your running days count. Do a long run one day, a tempo run at faster speeds on flatter terrain another day, and a day of hill repeats. The longest training run you need to prepare for a 100-mile race is a 50-mile run, and even that’s pretty rare. With something as ambitious and destructive as a 100-mile run, it’s not beneficial to you to actually practice at that distance.”

2. One Mile at a Time

“You’ll become overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. When you’re thinking, ‘I still have 70 miles to go,’ it’s easy to become discouraged. You have to stay in the moment. Toward the end, at mile 60 or 70, you’ll be in a lot of discomfort. Your legs will be destroyed. That precipitates mental struggles as well. You will look for any excuse to stop. The last quarter of the race is about who is the toughest person out there. The more stubborn you are, the better your chances. A lot of it is your brain deciding that you’re going to endure.”

3. Have a Plan B

“When you’re on the starting line, you have to be 100 percent committed to finishing. You have to believe, ‘I can finish this.’ If you’ve got doubts, you’re doomed. Have a top goal, maybe it’s winning the race. But also have a secondary goal, maybe finishing the race. Recognize that circumstances may kick in that will reduce you to your B, C, or D goal, and that’s OK.”

“You’ll become overwhelmed by the enormity of the task.”
Anton Krupicka

4. Fuel Your Engine

“Your stomach can become a huge issue. You’re nauseous, you’re throwing up. That’s common. It’s hard to fuel for that long of a time while you’re that active. There’s no single tactic to take. Try and get the bulk of your calories from starches and fats, rather than just straight sugar. Bland, savory foods work well, like plain pasta with salt or broth, breads, or cakes. On the trail, you’re supplementing with gels in between aid stations.”

5. Think It Over

“In the weeks and months leading up to the race, when you’re out training, let your mind wander to the objective. Think about how you want the race to go. Visualize what it’s going to be like. That will prepare you to execute in the moment. So when something goes wrong, you’ve thought about that possibility and it doesn’t catch you off guard. You can say, ‘I knew it was going to be this way and now I can deal with it.’ The mental preparation is what gets you to the finish line. Your body is always going to tell you to stop.”

Read more
12 2015 The Red Bulletin

Next story