Monthly Archives: March 2016

Recovering from a Very Long Run

off season

How long does it take to recover from a one hundred mile run? As with many things running, it depends. This post applies to not only 100 mile runs but any endurance challenge.

There are a lot of factors that go into recovery time from any endurance event. Recovery can be as short as 3 days or as long as 3 weeks. That being said, there are things which make it go in one direction or  the other.

In my opinion experience is the biggest factor in the length of recovery. The more 100’s you’ve done the more familiar your body is with recovering from them. You teach your body how to rebuild after being strained in that way.

Injury is also going to play a big role in your recovery. If you were injured before the race and went into it without being fully healed, you should allow more time for recovery. Same on the other end, if you were injured during the race, it is obviously going to take you longer to recover.

The type of terrain can impact our ability to recover from a run. Running up and down a mountain takes some people longer to recover from, for others it is running flat for 100 miles that takes longer. If you run up and down, you are able to use different muscle groups throughout the run. This allows some recovery during the run. I’ve heard many times running a flat 100 is harder than a mountain 100 because a flat run uses the same muscle group the entire time.

Extreme heat or cold make it more difficult to recover from a run. You have to work twice as hard to maintain your internal body temperature in high or low temperatures under normal circumstances. Adding in running for twenty-four hours or more and you can easily triple or quadruple the energy output required.  The more you have depleted your body, the longer it takes to recover.

Food lifestyle (I don’t like the word diet) plays a role as well. Your body needs the right nutrients to get back to homeostasis. If you don’t fuel your body well before and after your run, it can’t repair the muscles and tendons you have relied on during your event. Surviving on Oreo’s and potato chips during the run is fine, but before and after are another matter entirely. There are foods that have anti-inflammatory properties which can speed recovery up.

Preparation, as in training, is key in running a 100 and not just to give you the best possible chance of finishing. It also gives you the ability to recover well. It goes back to teaching your body how to recover and rebuild the muscles. If you have completed all of your back to back long runs and run the type of terrain for your race, your body knows what to do.

It doesn’t matter if it takes you three days or three weeks. Take the time you need to recover or you’ll be back on bedrest healing an overuse injury. Sleep in, eat well, and be active at a comfortable level.

Buffalo 100 2016

DSC01490

About 66 runners stood bouncing on their twos waiting for the race director, RD, to yell go! The sun was high in the sky, although, you couldn’t see it with the cloud cover. Volunteers and support crews stood along the sidelines with cameras, smiles and encouraging words.

Fifteen minutes before the runners lined up at the starting line the RD gave a brief pre-race meeting inside the large white tent located at the start and finish of the race. He gave a description of the course and where the aid stations were located.

“You 100 mile runners are going to do two loops around the course,” he said.

“Do you have any maps?” asked a first time runner.

“No, but I can count on one hand how many runners have been lost on the course over the past 11 years.”

The RD continued by telling the returning runners about the changes made from the year before. And then everyone shuffled outside to the starting line.

A mix of excitement and anxiety passed over the faces of runners standing in the chilled air waiting for the countdown to begin. They didn’t have to wait long.

At the count of five, Garmins began to beep as they were turned on and locating the satellites.

Go!

And so it began, runners of every age and size began putting one foot in front of another. They had 30.5 hours to finish the 100 mile trek over and around Antelope Island. They encountered buffalo all along the trails and dedicated volunteers who were out there all night long cheering and encouraging everyone who came through their aid stations.

All the climbing is from miles 1-20 and again from miles 50-70 since the race is a double loop, so the walking starts pretty quickly.

My left hip began to ache a little within the first five miles. I knew it would be a problem and hoped it wouldn’t slow me down during the race. Then there were blisters on both arches of my feet by mile 13. Blisters early in a race were never good. I stopped to take some tape off my feet that was causing some of the blisters. And I left my gloves sitting on the rock. I didn’t realize it until a few miles later and I wasn’t going back. All I could do was hope they were still there when I made my return trip.

Two weeks before I had run the first 20 miles of the race in 3 hours 18 minutes, which is way too fast for a 100 or so I thought. I came in to the aid station at 20 miles in 3 hours 30 minutes. My support crew was waiting for me even though I was earlier than expected.

“I need my blister kit, water refilled, and more apples,” I called out as I came in. They scrambled to tend to everything. I was out within about seven minutes.

I continued down the trail which was little rolling hills for 30 miles and then would climb into the mountain section I had just finished. I felt good. The blisters were taped up and stopped hurting after a few minutes. My hip was feeling better and only ached in various spots every once in a while.

I stopped to take pictures here and there. The obstinate buffalo were right along the trail and forced me and other runners to take small detours into the sage brush to remain a safe distance from them. They run 35 miles an hour after all. I even saw my first coyote on the trial.

My amazing crew was at every aid station refilling my water, rolling out my legs, restocking my food, and telling me how great I was doing. My goal was to get in and out of aid stations within five minutes especially for the first 50 miles. Swiss Miss even showed up with a new pair of gloves. The sunset was absolutely amazing and I tried to run faster to see it without the mountains being in the way. I missed it by just a few minutes.

I came into mile fifty still feeling great and ready to pick up my first pacer, Troy. I pulled on long pants a beanie, and packed a long sleeve shirt just in case. Troy and I set out at a steady pace and hiked all the climbs. We made good time and found the lost gloves.

At mile 70, I picked up my second pacer, Cody. It was early morning and about 30 degrees Fahrenheit. We talked and maintained a nice steady pace. He was running with me during my most difficult hours 3-6 am. In all my past races this was where I lost the most time because I was tired and pretty out of it.

But I had changed my strategy to prevent this from happening. I stopped using caffeine three months before the race. During the race, I started popping caffeine pills about 130 am. This section of the race was still my slowest time, but it was much faster than any prior races.

At mile 83, I picked up my third and final pacer, Jake. It was still dark and I was still running. I felt good and my mood was in a good place. During the last 17 miles of the race there were times when I was coming up small hills and thought, “I should walk,” but I didn’t. I told myself I was strong and the hills were too small to walk.

Mile 89 was the last time I met up with my crew before the finish line. They provided me with more Oreos (my primary fuel for this run) and refilled my pack and off I went with Jake at my back. I watched the sun come up and it filled me with more vigor. I ran the whole way back to the start/finish tent.

My dad and youngest son were there waiting for me a little ways before the finish line. They ran with me toward the finish. I ran next to another runner. He pulled ahead by a few steps, but about three feet before the finish line he said, “Come on let’s finish it together.”

It was 9:30 am and I was surrounded by my best friends, my dad, and my son. I couldn’t have asked for more. It was a perfect race.

Finish time: 21 hours 30 minuets.

Second place for women.

First place in age group.

Ninth place overall

Vegan Running

vegan

I know you are all probably wanting to hear how the Buffalo 100 went, but I wrote this blog before the race. I figured I’d be sleeping and eating for the 24 hours after the race and blogging would not be a top priority. But stay tuned, I’ll write a report for Thursday.

I’ve blogged about nutrition a few times including low carbohydrate running and fueling during your runs. Since my lifestyle has moved to vegan, I thought I would blog about how that impacts or could impact your running.

I’m not going to get into the reasons I switched to a vegan lifestyle because it doesn’t really relate to my running. For those who don’t know what vegan is, it means I don’t eat or use products which contain any animal products. It’s different from vegetarian because vegetarians will eat dairy products and some also eat eggs and fish.

The one thing I hear the most from people is where do you get your protein?  Don’t you need protein to build muscle?  This is just a lack of knowledge. There is protein in many plants. There are the well- known vegan “meats”  tofu, tempeh, and seitan. But Lentils, edamame, and quinoa also have quite a bit of protein.

So how can a vegan lifestyle improve your running? It lowers your chance of heart disease, cancer, and other serious illnesses. It lowers your blood pressure and bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol. It reduces your risk of inflammation even after miles of pounding. It doesn’t decrease your energy levels.

There are many ultrarunners who are vegan: Scott Jurek, Ariel Rosenfeld, Denis Mkhaylove, Damian Stoy, and Vlad Ixel just to name a few. Scott is probably the most widely known and has taken first place at races including Western States 100 seven times, Badwater Ultramarathon, Spartathlon 153 miles, and Hardrock 100.

As far as advice about transitioning to a vegan lifestyle as a runner: make the transition slow so your body has time to adjust. You can take out one thing at a time for a week or two until all animal products are gone. Some people have gastral intestinal issues during the transition. If you take things slow, I think most of this can be avoided.

Things I have noticed: I have to eat more frequently when I am running, but it has yet to cause any stomach issues. I still recommend watching the quantity you put in at one time. It’s better to eat more frequently but smaller amounts when you are running especially, if you have had stomach problems in the past.

Give your body time to adjust to being vegan before a big race. I changed three months before a race came up on my calendar. Get some good long runs in and back to backs before race day, so you know if you could be facing some GI issues on race day and how to deal with them.

 

Help your crew know what to do

coaching

2016 Buffalo Run Crew Guide

  1. Distances/time cut offs/aid stations
    1. White Tent (Start) at white rock bay noon
      1. Hydration pack
        1. Salt tabs
        2. Jacket
        3. Food
        4. Blister kit
        5. stomach
      2. Sun block
  • hat
  1. NO CREW Elephant head Will have drop bag
  2. White Tent 20 miles 4:30pm
    1. Fill hydration pack
In:                  Out:
  • If heed three scoops
  1. Check food
  2. Check items
  1. Change socks.
  • Check fracture
  1. Roll legs with stick
  2. Apply Sun block
  1. Mountain View Aid 22.5 miles 5:00pm
    1. Don’t need to meet me here, but can if you want to.
  2. Lower Frary 28 miles 600 pm Sunset is at 7:50
    1. Fill hydration pack
In:                   Out:
  • If heed three scoops
  1. Check food
  2. Check items
  1. Salt tabs
  • Headlamp with working batteries? Sun sets at 7:50
  1. Extra batteries in handheld
  2. Check fracture
  3. Roll legs with stick

 

  1. Ranch 33 miles 715 pm Sunset is at 7:50
    1. Fill hydration pack
In:                    Out:
  • If Heed three scoops
  1. Check food
  2. Check items
  1. Salt tabs
  • Head light
  1. New socks
  2. Check fracture
  3. Roll legs with stick
  1. Lower Frary 38 miles 8:30 pm
    1. Fill hydration pack
In:                  Out:
  • If heed three scoops
  1. Check food supplies
  2. Check used items
  1. Salt tabs
  • Headlight working?
  1. New socks?
  2. Check fracture
  3. Roll legs with stick
In:                   Out:
  • Mountain View 44 miles 9:45 pm
    1. Meet me here because Bridger bay will be closed at 9pm
    2. This is a hike down
  1. Bridger Bay 46 miles 1015 pm
    1. This will be closed meet at White tent
  2. White Tent 50 miles 11:15 pm (cut off 4:00 AM Saturday)
    1. Jake Pacer
    2. Change clothing completely. It will be cold. I have to be dry.
  • Change socks.
  1. Hydration pack
In:                Out:
  • If heed three scoops
  1. Check food supplies
  2. Check used items
  1. Coffee mostly because it’s cold
  2. Check Fracture
  • Rolle legs with stick
  1. NO CREW Elephant head
  2. White Tent 70 miles 6:15 am
    1. Cody Pacing
    2. Fill hydration pack
In:                 Out:
  • Three scoops of heed
  1. Check food
  2. Check items
  • Salt tabs
  1. Change socks
  2. Check fracture
  3. Roll legs with stick
  1. Mountain view 73 miles 7:00 am Sunrise is at 7:17 
    1. Don’t worry about climbing down here just meet me at Lower Frary.
  2. Lower Frary 77 miles 8:00 am
    1. Troy pacing
    2. Fill hydration pack
In:                Out:
  • Three scoops of heed
  1. Check food
  2. Check items
  • Salt tabs
  1. Check fracture
  2. Roll legs with stick
  1. Ranch 83 miles 9:30 am (Cut off 230 pm Saturday)
    1. Fill hydration pack
In:                 Out:
  • Three scoops of heed
  1. Check food
  2. Check items
  1. Salt tabs
  • Sun block
  1. Check fracture
  2. Roll legs with stick
  3. Change socks
  1. Lower Frary 89 miles 11:00 am (Cut off 330 pm Saturday)
    1. Fill hydration pack
In:                  Out:
  • Three scoops of heed
  1. Check food
  2. Check items
  1. Salt tabs
  • Check fracture
  1. Roll legs with stick
  1. Mountain View 94 miles 1145 am
    1. Don’t need to be here but it’s nice to see you.
  2. Bridger Bay 96 miles 12: 30 pm
In:                 Out:
  • Fill hydration pack
  1. Salt tabs
  • Sun block
  1. Roll legs
  1. Finish 100 miles 2:00 pm

 

The Ultra Marathon Crew

don't panic

Since I am heading into another hundred, I thought I would dedicate this week to helping your crew and pacers be prepared for the one hundred mile experience. I believe crews are essential and a gift to their runner. This is my guide fro my ultra crew and pacers.

THE ULTRA MARATHON CREW

By Nicole Lowe, Dark Voodoo Princess

Goal of the Ultra marathon Crew:

  1. Safety for myself and my runner
  2. Keep my runner moving toward the finish as quickly as possible
  3. Make decisions for my runner during later stages of the race
  4. Allow runner to DNF ONLY if serious injury is highly likely or death may result

Understand the Crew Experience

  1. You will be deprived of sleep
  2. You will be stuck in a car
  3. You will be tending to a possibly grumpy runner
  4. You will be bored
  5. You could be hot, cold, hungry
  6. Rushing from aid station to aid station
  7. You could be suddenly asked to pace: do you have running shoes and shorts?
  8. You get to see a new place
  9. You get to hang out in the outdoors and enjoy nature
  10. You get to meet new people
  11. Be prepared to help your runner: buckle, tie, zip, apply glide, and dress and undress.
  12. Handling dirty sweaty smelly clothing
  13. Cheer on other runners
  14. Support other runners who are in need of help
  15. Watch the amazing determination of human endurance

Things to discuss pre-race:

  1. Start and finish time
  2. Course/terrain/elevation/weather
  3. Time cut offs for the race
  4. Where meeting
  5. What will runner likely need at each meeting
  6. How things are packed and labeled
  7. What is packed (if need it early or later in race)
  8. Expected pace of my runner
  9. Injuries likely to flare up and how to deal with them
  10. How much electrolyte stuff to put in water
  11. What do we do if we miss each other at a meeting
    1. Check with aid station crew to see if runner came in
    2. Meet at next spot
  12. Is there cell phone service

Things to Know about Ultra marathon runners and races:

  1. Runners mood will to go up and down
  2. Runner may not be thinking totally clear
  3. Runner will be in pain eventually
  4. Stomach issues and mild dehydration are inevitable
  5. It hurts more to stop and start than to keep moving (ten minutes is goal in aid station unless we are changing or taking care of something like blisters)
  6. Where to get extra supplies if needed close to the course

Questions to ask yourself to help your runner:

  1. Have I planned for myself?
    1. Clothing
    2. Gloves/hat
    3. Food
    4. Water
    5. Entertainment
    6. Light
    7. Reflective gear
  2. How far until I meet up with my runner again?
  3. What is the temp outside, how is that going to impact my runner?
  4. What is the weather, how is that going to impact my runner?
  5. When is it going to get dark?
  6. When is it going to get light?
  7. What is in my runners gear?
  8. Did my runner go to the bathroom?

Visual Assessment of Runner:

  1. Limping
  2. Swollen hands
  3. Wet anywhere
  4. Shoes? Dry, muddy
  5. Light at night
  6. Reflective gear if on the road
  7. Sun burnt
  8. Walking or running

Mental Status check

  1. Confused or Disoriented
    1. Just tired
    2. Sugar low
    3. Electrolytes low: swollen hands, sloshing stomach,
    4. hypothermia: shivering uncontrollably, blue lips or fingers, mumbling, coordination issues
    5. dehydrated: pinch back of hand spring back slow or tents

 

Possible Questions for runner:

  1. Blisters or hot spots
  2. Too hot?
  3. Too cold?
  4. Stomach issues
    1. Pepto-Bismol for diarrhea
    2. Tums for stomach acid
    3. Ginger or pepto-bismol for nausea
  5. What do you want at the next aid station?

Cold/shivering:

  1. Was the runner warm when running?
  2. Keep runner moving
  3. Multiple layers
  4. Change clothing
  5. Wind proof outer layer
  6. Hand warmers
  7. Before you DNF: Out of elements for twenty-thirty minutes and all new clothing

Rain/snow:

  1. Sunglasses and hat
  2. Poncho
  3. Change clothes
  4. Rain proof /resistant outer layer
  5. base layer

 

Hot/swelling joints

  1. Some people just swell up but . . .
  2. S-Caps
  3. Visor
  4. Ice under hat
  5. Dunk shirt in cool water
  6. Slow down
  7. Frozen drink
  8. Before you DNF: Shade for 20-30 minutes

Before my runner comes in:

  1. Check with aid station crew about any updates or changes in race.
  2. Have gear ready my runner decided they will need at this stop
  3. Set out any gear my runner may need so I can get them quickly

 

What to do when my runner comes in:

  1. Let my runner know when I will see them next (see you in five miles)
  2. Send them out, ASAP
  3. Ask what runner will want at next aid

What to do when my runner leaves:

  1. Get to the next meeting point
  2. Stay warm
  3. Eat
  4. Sleep
  5. Have fun, enjoy the scenery
  6. Laugh at my runner
  7. Meet other crews, watch movies, read books, and take pictures.

What do I do if my Runner has/is….

  1. Vomiting/nausea
    1. Keep hydrating
    2. Suggest walking
    3. Give anti-nausea meds
    4. How hot is my runner?
  2. Diarrhea
    1. Keep hydrating
    2. Baby wipes
    3. Glide
    4. New shorts
    5. Anti-diarrhea meds
    6. Suggest walking
  3. Blisters
    1. Pop blisters with a clean pin
    2. Clean area with alcohol wipe
    3. Place second skin over blister if roofless
    4. Tape with elastiskin or KT tape
    5. May need mole skin around blister to top off that
    6. Double socks
    7. Dry socks
  4. Cramps
    1. Muscle
      1. Electrolytes
      2. Stretch slow
    2. Stomach
      1. Walk
      2. Stretch body (arms up)
  • No protein
  1. Water and electrolytes

Notes for Pacers specifically

  1. Do Nothing Fatal
  2. take care of your own needs
  3. If you fall behind, I’ll have to leave you
  4. Don’t carry anything for the runner, you can share water if needed
  5. Talk and tell stories to runner although runner may not respond with more than a grunt
  6. Keep an eye on food and water intake
  7. If the runner is going slow put them in front and prod them along
  8. Don’t let the runner crawl into a cave to sleep
  9. Be positive and don’t complain
  10. Don’t agree with complaining runner
  11. I don’t know what happened to Number 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Dehydration Heat stroke Heat exhaustion Hypoatremia
Symptoms Thirst

Dry mouth

No sweat (clammy)

Lightheaded

Weakness

Less urine

Temp 105

Throbbing head

No sweat

Red hot dry skin

Muscle weakness

Cramps

Nausea/vomiting

Rapid/shallow breathing

Rapid heartbeat

Confusion

Disorientation staggering

Seizures

unconsciousness

Confusion

Apple juice urine

Dizziness

Fainting

Fatigue

Headache

Muscle cramps

Nausea

Pale skin

Profuse sweating

Rapid heartbeat

Craving salt

Confusion

Convulsions

Fatigue

Headache

Irritability

Loss of appetite

Muscle spasms or cramps

Muscle weakness

Nausea

Restlessness

vomiting

treatment Get out of the sun

Walk or stop

Drink water

Get out of the sun

Place ice on neck and groin

Get in cold water

Take to hospital if no improvement

Get out of the sun

Place ice on neck and groin

Get in cold water

Walk or stop

Electrolytes

Salty food or S-caps

No water

Take to hospital if no improvement

 

Could You Run Without Your Support Team?

Epic Exchange six

I couldn’t. My crew and pacers have been and continue to be instrumental in my ultrarunning and finishes. I know some runners complete ultras without crews or pacers. And my hat goes off to them. I sometimes think I could do it without, if I needed too. I’ve done the first fifty miles of a few hundreds without a crew (you typically can’t have pacers within the first fifty miles). And those races went fine. I’ve also had total melt downs at mile 83 and my crew has been able to get me back out there to finish the race.

I love to have them there even if I don’t “need” them. Their smiling faces and tough love make my race fun even when I’m struggling. Their belief in me, when I don’t believe, gets me through.  Sharing my success and love of running is another reason I bring out such a large crew. I have six people, three pacers and three crew, who will be joining me out on Antelope Island for the Buffalo 100 on March 18th and 19th.

I also recognize they are giving up time with family to be out there supporting my running habit. It’s important to me to recognize that and remember it during races. I try to be very aware of their sacrifice when I come into aid stations. I don’t want to criticize them or be a pain in the ass. They are, after all, out there just for me.

Because of all of this, I make a special effort to make sure their needs are taken care of and that they will have a good time out there as well. When I have my crew meetings, I go through things they will need and what their experience will be like. I try to plan things as precisely as possible so they know what to expect and don’t have to guess about what I will need or search for things I am asking for.

Even though I don’t have to have drop bags with my amazing crew at every aid station they can get to, I put them there to make life easier for my crew. It is easy for them to come into an aid station get my drop bag, which has most of what I thought I would need at that particular place and time in the race.

I also try to find a gift for them which is meaningful and will remind them how important they all are to me.

Take care of your support system and never forget, they don’t have to be there. They are there because they love to watch and help you succeed.

Do You Shy Away from Bad Weather?

run in the rain

Last Saturday evening I looked up the weather conditions for the next day. I needed to know what to wear for my thirty-mile run. I never questioned whether or not I would actually run, just what to wear while I did it. I laughed when I saw it. Rain, rain, and more rain. There was a 90% likelihood of rain from six in the morning until nine in the evening.

I went to my running clothes dresser (yes, I have so much running gear it has it’s own dresser). I pulled out my long pants, extra gloves, and rain jacket. Of course I was going out, even if it rained the entire time. And wind, I was sure there would be wind on the island. I don’t think the rain comes to the island without the wind.

I’d run in wind and rain before. Salt Flats 100 consisted of approximately 20 plus hours of wind and rain and lots of it. Thirty miles in the rain wouldn’t be a problem. Anyway, I am staring down a one hundred miler in just under two weeks. Conditions could be just as bad or worse on race day. It’s always good to have some difficult runs under your belt going into a one hundred, so when you have to dig deep to get through a tough section of the race, there is something to hold on to.

Runners run in all types of conditions, unless they don’t. Some runners choose not to run if weather conditions are not at their standard. If you run ultramarathons this is a bad strategy. It’s bad strategy for a race of any distance.

One hundred miles is a long way to go and a lot can happen during that time, including rapidly changing weather conditions. This is true for running relays which last for twenty-four to thirty-six hours. We’ve all heard the saying, “There is no bad weather, only bad gear.” I think this is true for the most part. You do need to have the right gear to run in severe weather conditions and if it’s really bad it only makes it bearable. But bearable is better than not being prepared.

Running in different weather conditions should be a part of your training plan. It’s just as important as mimicking the elevation change and terrain of your race. Ideally, race day will not throw out any situation, which you have not already had to deal with at least once, and hopefully more than once.

When one of my runners tells me it’s raining or cold or whatever outside, I tell them, “suck it up, butter cup.” If the complaining continues or is echoed by another runner, they get the classic, “nut up or shut up.”

rain running quote