Steve Q. has written a lot of interesting posts through the years, in a recent post which he titled "Steve's Rule for Ultrarunning" he said he had come up with one good rule for ultrarunning:
"run 1/3 of the distance, with 1/2 of the climb in 1/4 of the time"
In his post, he explained it this way, say you want to run 100 miles at FANS 24, that means you need to run 33 miles in 6 hours. Seems reasonable, now this formula may or may not be scientific but when it comes to running longer distances, I think that is ok because the more running I do the more it seems I just need to have something that keeps me focused for training and believing that I can do the longer distances.
At FANS I wanted to run 50 miles in 12 hours, if I had used Steve's formula using the marathons I ran with my wife as a predictor, they had us going through ~17 miles in 3 hours 30 minutes. It would say that the 12 hour goal would be a stretch. Neither marathon was very hilly but both had a few more hills than FANS so I am not sure that we matched the "1/2 of the climb" requirement or not. In order to make the "1/4 of the time", we would have had to be a 1/2 hour faster, since it was a marathon not a 17 mile race, I can't be sure if we could have shaved the 1/2 hour or not but I think we could. If we had nailed his formula during the marathons, I think it would simply have given me a bit more cushion at FANS. I failed at FANS (at least in my mind) because of the combination of the back, the nausea and the hypothermia which all led to the medical tent issue but I was on pace for 50 miles having gone through 40 miles in 9 hours. I thought at the time that I could walk 10 miles in 3 hours and at that point I had no intention of walking it in. I like to think that take the back issue away and I would not have had to stop, I was working on the nausea and I wasn't planning on stopping because of that. Regardless, I know believe I can do 50 miles in 12 hours on a flat course. Yes I have to prove it and I may fail the next time I try but the reality is I now believe I can, which to me is an important step. Getting the mind to believe so the body will follow.
So for me, I want to eventually run a 100 mile race and I was thinking a 28 hour goal would be something to train for. Therefore using the formula that is 33 miles in 7 hours, why shoot for 28 hours, well it just seems like a reasonable goal to shoot for. Sure I would like to run it in 24 hours but let me think a bit on that, I have yet to run sub 12 for 50 miles so all I got to do is accomplish that and then double it, nope not likely to happen. I am not not sure the 28 hour goal is doable either but it does seem like something I can imagine doing.
So what does this mean? It means over the next couple of years, I would need to get my 50k times down to around 6:40 which is an hour faster than I am currently at. Can I get there, I think yes and it will become my goal over the next 12 to 18 months. If I can't train to do that then I question my commitment towards doing a 100 anyway.
My next race is Afton and I don't plan on trying to run that pace there but I would like to try to cut the deficit in half. So I am going to try and cut a half hour off which basically means a minute/mile faster which is doable. Of course, I do need to see what the weather is going to be and probably a few other things as if I learned anything from FANS, it is make sure you adjust to the day and then adjust even more as the day goes on.
Am I wise to follow Steve's formula, time will tell but it does give me something that I can use to shape my training towards, I kind of view it as the ultrarunning version of Yasso 800's.