Oregon Cascades 100 has quickly become the most popular 100-miler in Oregon, so it’s time to  give some guidelines on how to train for it! While this advice is about Oregon Cascades, most of it is relevant for other 100-milers and shorter ultras. Here’s some tips to get you ready for August!

Oregon Cascades is 100 miles so you will need to build up your training volume. Do this slowly but steadily. Making abrupt changes in your training will lead to injuries or other issues down the road. Aim to build up your running volume to at least 5 to 6 days of running per week. While training volume is not everything, you do need to run a lot in training to be ready for a 100-miler. Oregon Cascades is almost 90% trail so if possible, do the bulk of your training on trails. As you build up your training volume, make sure that you have one long run per week. This will be the single most important run to get you ready for the race. Over the next few months, aim to build the duration of your long run up to 5 or 6 hours. Increasing the duration of your long run by 30 minutes per week is reasonable. During your long run, aim to train on terrain similar to the Oregon Cascades. Oregon Cascades has roughly 11,000 feet of climbing and descending. Given this, aim to do your long run on terrain that has roughly 100-150 feet of elevation gain per mile. This will be reflective of the terrain you will see on race day. With 90% of the course run on trails, aim to do as much of your long run on trails as possible. The more closely you can represent the race in training, the better off you will be.


Oregon Cascades (James Holk)


Speedwork is also important for Oregon Cascades 100, even if you plan to be at the back of the pack. Speedwork builds your overall running ability. The faster your top speed, the faster your 100-mile pace will be. There is a reason that the fastest 100 milers in the world are also very fast at shorter distances. Aim for one-speed workout per week. This can be a tempo run or an interval session. Both of these will build your speed and running economy. A tempo run is a sustained fast effort of 20-30 minutes. This is not an all-out effort, but it should feel quite hard. An interval session involves running at a very fast pace for three to five minutes, then running at an easy pace for the same duration. Repeat this three to five times to complete the interval session. Both workouts involve 15 to 20 minutes of easy running before and after to make sure your body has a chance to warm up and cool down.


Sean Belling running Oregon Cascades (James Holk)


Hiking is also important for Oregon Cascades 100. While 11,000 feet of elevation gain is relatively flat for a trail 100 miler, most runners will still hike a lot of the course. Practice hiking in training to make yourself a stronger hiker on race day. Aim to do one hiking session per week. The best way to do this is to find a hill that will take 30-60 minutes to climb. This is not available for everyone, so doing repeats on a shorter hill is okay, too. Hike up the hill, then run down. Practicing hiking consistently will make you a faster, more efficient hiker. If you have not been hiking in training, you will see a lot of improvement over the first month as your body develops a new muscle recruitment pattern specific to hiking.


Bivouc Racing and Vantucky Runners Aid Station at Oregon Cascades (James Holk)


While Oregon is not the hottest state, when you are running on an August afternoon, it can feel pretty warm. Heat training before the Oregon Cascades 100 is a good idea. Sauna training is the most effective form of heat training. Doing one month of sauna training in the month leading up to the race has been shown to be the most effective. Sauna training will increase your blood plasma volume and decrease the amount of sodium you lose in your sweat; both of these will help with running in the heat. Aim to go to the sauna 3 to 4 times per week in the month leading up to Oregon Cascades. Look to increase the time you spend in the sauna each session. To begin with, you may only be able to stay in the sauna for 10 to 15 minutes. After a few weeks, you will likely build your tolerance to over half an hour. Remember, always leave the sauna if the heat begins to feel unbearable, regardless of how long you have been in there!


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Nighttime photo at Oregon Cascades (James Holk)


Hopefully, these guidelines will give you a place to start your training for Oregon Cascades this summer! There is also some information in here that can be applied to other races too. Remember that everyone’s training will need to be a little different so pay attention to how your body feels when you are running so you can do what is right for you.

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