How to Run 100 Miles: The Art and Science of Endurance- Week 7

Physiology First
6 min readDec 12, 2021
Distance Project athlete Ian Ramsey during our 24 hour Race for the Future event. He ran 100k at the event before taking home his first 100 mile belt buckle at the Bear 100 last September.

This week kicks off a new training block that is tough, results focused, and guaranteed to get you stronger over the next 4 weeks. We’ll be repeating the same workout for four weeks so keep track of the weights that you’re using and be sure that each movement feels right for you. This is an awesome time to hone in on movement mechanics in strength training and running while noticing the similarities-as well as the differences.

The training block that we are entering into was designed by Dr. Pat Davidson in a brilliant program called MASS 2. I almost hesitated to add this component to our program due to the fact that it is part of a product that Pat created and which we’ve purchased-but we use it at the training center every year to great effect and I want to share the actual 6 month program that we use with our athletes at The Distance Project in it’s entirety. Just know that this 4 week block is based off of Pat’s work and if you’re interested in a phenomenal book on training with a continued progressive strength element (the program morphs into an absolute monster-which is why we only utilize the first portion and then return to running focused, spring loaded, bouncy, rotational, non strength dominated programming. We do not want to become too grounded, as in not light on our feet and not able to remain elastic, but we do want to put in enough focused, repetitive, progressive overload to actually make muscles adapt. A valuable way to think about all training is as follows: We need enough of the same stimulus to adapt. We need enough variance to not adapt into a weaker version of ourselves. The runner who puts in hundred mile weeks over too long a time period ultimately becomes weaker from the adaptation that that put in so much dedication and work ethic to achieve. The strength athlete who works their way up to an 800 pound deadlift ultimately becomes the victim of their own determination in that their identify, training practice, and achievements in sport are focused on maintaining an adaptation that ultimately robs them of other adaptations.

As athletes we often collide with our own commitment to achievement and excellence. The collision robs us from our potential-and from doing what we love the most.

This podcast from Dr. Pat Davidson is one of the most important conversations that I’ve heard in the world sports performance and movement biomechanics. This is a critical conversation on force absorption which is related to all elements of our running and strength training.

(Start this one at the 30 minute mark if you’re interested in the purely athletic concepts. The first half hour is a very casual conversation-the second half is pure fire.)

Barefoot training-and particularly barefoot plyometrics-are a critical component of preparing the body to remain elastic and absorb the force that it produces, especially when running.

The strength training cycle that we are heading into is based off of a 30 second on/30 second off cycle.

We are picking ten movements that cover all of the bases from a patterns and planes perspective. We will pick a horizontal push, a horizontal pull, a vertical press, a vertical pull, a hinge, a knee dominant movement, a bilateral knee dominant or hip dominant movement (your choice) and a ballistic movement-something that we’ve added in.

Here’s the cycle that we use at The Distance Project: 30 seconds to achieve 15 reps of each movement. 30 seconds rest between rounds. One minute rest between each rotation of the full ten movement cycle.

Deadlift

Overhead press

Tricep pull-down

Squat

Incline bench

Upright row

Bench press

Single leg squat (Right leg)

Single leg squat (Left Leg)

Ketttlebell swing

The goal is to choose a weight that we can get 15 reps in the 30 second window. We rest 30 seconds between sets and one minute between the rounds.

We will teach these movements on our live class on Physiology First University Live on Monday at 1pm. If you are already comfortable with these exercises feel free to start the program today-but the movement demo may still be helpful in learning how we think about the movement and what we’re trying to achieve.

This training cycle is fun, dynamic, aerobic, and a great combination of pure strength development and a conditioning element that is mentally satisfying and incredibly demanding. Our athletes look forward to this training cycle and they know it’s going to be hard, valuable, and very progressive. The goal is to add the smallest amount of load per week-a surefire recipe for strength development.

We are going to take out the sprints this week as we get the body used to this challenging workout. We will keep the antifragile calf matrix as part of the warm-up along with the airplanes, bear crawls, and a dynamic warm-up that we’ll share on PFU Live on Monday and add to this document afterwards. We wanted to shoot an in depth overview of this cycle specifically for this program and we hope that the roughly 20 minute overview video sets you up for a phenomenal 4 weeks of progress!

Antifragile Calf Matrix:

Strength Day One:

A.) Bear crawl.

B.) 3 sets of 4 airplanes per side

C.) Antifragile calf matrix

D.) 30/30 x 3

E.) Core Tabata of choice. Pick the movement that feels the most effective for you out of the exericses that we’ve explored on the program so far. Foam roller with reach or bear plank. Tomorrow we will introduce a new movement that requires quite a bit of coaching but is a game changer for obliques and adductors!

Aerobic Base Day One:

8 miles: Nasal Only Breathing. (A shorter run than last week as we settle into this 4 week strength development cycle.)

Recovery:

Post run breathing: 2 minutes

Inhale through the nose. Exhale through the mouth. Repeat until heart rate is approximately 60% of Max HR or until you feel like you can comfortably return to nasal breathing.

Strength Day Two:

Same as day one but only ONE ROUND of the 30/30. Go a bit heavier than on day one. This is a great way to feel your potential for strength development and how challenging and empowering a great strength development session can feel. Crank you favorite tunes and go hard on this cycle while remaining in tune with how you’re moving and whether the principles that we are shooting for are maintained.

After the one round 30/30 we are going to perform 3 sets of 8 of the following three movements.

https://youtu.be/J820nGYAn2U

Aerobic Base Day Two:

10 miles. Nasal breathing only.

Recovery:

Post run breathing: 2 minutes

Inhale through the nose. Exhale through the mouth. Repeat until heart rate is approximately 60% of Max HR or until you feel like you can comfortably return to nasal breathing.

This week’s training will give you a foundation that you can return to throughout your life. You can always pull the 30/30 workout out of your pocket and get into a progress focused strength training block that makes simple movements work extremely well for pure, engaging, progress driven strength training. Fluctuating between these strength focused training blocks and longer periods of elastic, fluid, rotational, and playful experimentation will keep you strong for life. As an example to bring this week’s training to a close, I’ll leave you with this video of Jan Gerry, 83 years old, who we’ve worked with for years. She’s returned to running this week-and I have no doubt that she’s going to crush it. This is what endurance looks like.

Have a wonderful week and I hope to see you on one of the live training offerings! I’ll also include everyone on a direct message stream so that we can connect with one another more effectively and connect everyone to each other. Teamwork is core component of all of our training and the more that you take advantage of the opportunities to connect with others on the program the more effectively the program will work for you on the road to race day!

David

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Physiology First

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