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Leadville 100 Trail Run Coaching and Training Milestones

Leadville 100 Trail Run Coaching and Training Milestones

The Leadville 100 Trail Run lottery drawing is just around the corner and if you are a first time runner and especially if you are new to the 100-miler game, you may be asking what kinds of training and runs you really need to be doing. Well, this article, Leadville 100 Trail Run Coaching and Training Milestones is geared to answer just that.

Leadville 100 Trail Run Coaching and Training Milestones

For starters, I can tell you that my DNF in 2009, though it had many components that led to it, not training enough or running enough miles that year certainly played a big part.

Of course, that year, I did run more than I had ever in my life – it just was not enough. I probably went into the LT100 with 1200 miles on my legs as opposed to the 2000 or so which is about the bare minimum to give a runner a chance at finishing.

However, after accumulating 2000 miles, is that enough, really? What other kinds of runs should you be doing and what would a standard training week look like?

I cannot give you all the specifics, after all, I am not selling the store here, but here are some base mileages to consider.

To be able to finish Leadville, especially for the first time, the training has to start early. Earlier than the lottery even as your first big training run for the year should be the last weekend of January or the first weekend of February, in which you can do a comfortable 50K run, either a race or on your own, in under six hours.

After that, in March, another solid 30-mile day followed up with a 20-mile day to make for a 50-mile weekend. Moreover, by March, a runner really needs to be hitting or danged close to the 200 miles per month average.

That is about 50 miles per week and for ultra training, anything less than 50 miles per week or under ten hours a week is suspect, meaning, it is not enough. By May and June, that should be upwards to 250 miles per month.

Of course, I do not like to train by calendar months and work backwards from the race-date month per month to create training cycles, but for the simple state of explaining it here, July should be a 300-mile month before one begins the taper for Leadville.

Other key milestone distances… a fifty miler in April or May, and even longer than that in June and July.

One way to set up the bigger mileage weeks is to do back to back to back runs. For instance three months out, I like to do a 12-12-12 mid week. Then two months out, 15-15-15, and in the last big month three 20’s in a row.

However, the back-to-back-to-back runs are never to look the same. For instance, I might have a runner focus the first 20 mile run out of the three on a track ran at MAF. The second day may be a 20 miler with a huge vertical focus, and following up the third with one on more rolling type of terrain. Each run is different and each run with its own purpose and objectives.

Finally, I believe that 30 is the new 20 when it comes to ultra training. That if you really want to succeed in this game, a 30-mile long run every week that you can do will go to great lengths to ensure that success. The value of 30-mile runs is two fold… the greatest benefit comes in those last ten miles where you are tired, as the 20 miles before is only the warm-up. Secondly, when you can consistently do 30-mile runs every week, your confidence will SOAR!

So there you have it… Leadville 100 Trail Run Coaching and Training Milestones and what to do with them. Of course, these are only the broad strokes, and everyone is different but after so many years in the game, the practices are what I know that works.

If you are stuck in your training, or unsure of where to even begin, please leave a comment below or send me a message via my contacts tab. I’d love to help you to get started and be a part of your Leadville 100 Trail Run journey.

Andy Wooten – Aspen Running Coach

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Photo by Andy Wooten 2011 LT100

Brad Patterson

Thanks for this post, I just ran my first 50 miler last year and had been having thoughts about what it would take to do a 100 miler. Lots of great detail here on what needs to be done in training to be well prepared for the 100.

Based on everything written here, there is almost no chance that I would have time for that amount of training volume at this point in my life. Thanks for clearing that up.

Andy Wooten

Hi Brad,
Yes, it takes a lot of time and for certain that was not something that I was prepared to do or did do before my first stab at the 100 mile distance… hence a whopping first DNF. Things in life change and hopefully, some day, if you decide to go for it you will have the time that you need to get it done. Thanks for reading and thank you for your comment! ~ Andy


Great article! I do Ironman races and have often wondered how that training would look switching over to ultras. Good info!

Andy Wooten

Thank you Valerie! I have never done an Ironman event myself, but someday… as the one in Cozumel really appeals to me as it is Cozumel after all. One important thing to note if you ever do decide to venture into ultra’s is to bring your bike training component with you. Mixing the bike into ultra training is super beneficial as it not only helps to build endurance while minimizing wear and tear on the body, but it also stimulates the same exact muscles used during climbing segments of a run. Thanks for reading and thanks again for taking the time to comment! – Andy

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