Gearing UP

gearing-up

It’s time to gear up for spring races in the norther hemisphere. Hopefully, you’ve been following a maintenance program through the winter months. How much you need to increase your miles will depend on where you are at and what your race distance is.

If you have a standard training program you’ve found on the internet (you can find mine above) or in a book, find the week that matches what you have been doing and start from there.

As you increase your miles, don’t forget the two golden rules of running: First, only increase your miles by ten percent each week; and second, every fourth week should be a rest week, reduce your miles by twenty to twenty-five percent.

After deciding where to start and working out the details of your training plan, think back to the things you struggled with last season. It could be loads of things, hydration, fueling during runs, falling a lot, climbing, or descending. Ideally, you worked on these issues while you were doing maintenance, but… Once you have a few things you’d like to work on, brainstorm different ways you can address the problem.

Hydration: this is something you have to stay on top of from the very beginning of a race/run. Find a way to remind yourself to keep drinking. Don’t chew gum because it increases saliva. You’ll drink if your mouth gets dry. Try taking little sips frequently or longer pulls every mile (when your garmin beeps). You could count your steps and sip every one hundred. Keep in mind you need to think about electrolytes too.

Fueling on the go: this is another one you have to stay on top of from the beginning of the race/run. You may want to eat something small before the race starts. Don’t over eat the night before to the point where you can’t eat the next morning. Eating something small every hour is the best way to sustain your energy throughout the race/run. Find different things you can tolerate, in case something makes you sick or is just unappetizing. Try different amounts of food too. It may be easier for you to eat more frequently, even every half hour or twenty minutes, just taking bites of things.

Falling a lot: You might just be clumsy, but I doubt it. Muscle imbalances can cause falling as can not paying enough attention to where you are putting your feet. Maybe your feet are not fast enough to prevent tripping or changing your foot placement once you figure out it’s precarious. Another problem could be your balance and proprioception. Muscle imbalances between your outer thigh and inner cause instability in your lower leg, ankle and foot. Having high arches can also cause some instability. Working on agility training with a speed ladder helps with foot placement and being able to move them quickly. Balance, proprioception, and core exercises will help as well.

Climbing and descending: just do it. A lot. You can also add strength training to your routine; for climbing focus on hamstrings and glutes; for descending, core and quads.

The goal is to go into your spring races stronger than you did your pervious fall races and certainly stronger than last spring’s races.

100 mile fuel

run and eat

Everyone uses different things to fuel their body during a 100-mile run. You have to find what works for you through trial and error. What I do know, is what works for you as a marathon runner, probably won’t work as an ultrarunner.

Some ultrarunners use the traditional sports fuel such as Gu, shot blocks, sports beans and the like, but it’s difficult to use them throughout the race. You just get sick of it and it becomes more difficult to choke it down.

Fueling is necessary, which means you have to put something down the hatch. Perusing the aid station buffet will give you an idea of what most ultrarunners eat: various types of candy, trail mix, potato chips, boiled and salted potatoes, cookies, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese quesadillas, ham or turkey sandwiches, Romen noodles, and fruit.

Bodies run off mainly carbohydrates during exercise. You can also burn fat and more runners are turning to a low carb diet, which allows them to tap into their fat stores as fuel during their runs. This is very useful and can be very beneficial to runners who have stomach issues regularly. You have to eat a whole lot less when you’re low carb. I’ve used this strategy, but could only maintain it for eighteen months because I couldn’t get enough fats to sustain my energy output. I’ve been back on carbs for about 18 months and feel great. I’ve written two blogs on low carb running if you are interested they are here and here.

 

What about protein during runs? I discourage most protein while running because protein, for most people, digests slow. It sits in your stomach slowing your metabolism down. A slow metabolism means your body doesn’t get fuel quickly. You need carbs to go through quickly if you want to maintain a good pace throughout the run. You also need electrolytes and water to go through quickly. If your digestive system is working on a lump of protein, everything else is going to come through slower too.

Easily digestible proteins are fine during a race, but not too much and space it out. Nut butters are easy, cheeses are easier, and plant based proteins are easy. Meat is not easy. Many protein bars(especially over 10 grams) are not easy.

The only way you are going to figure out what works for you is by training with different things until you find a few things that work for you. I suggest you find multiple things that work because you get sick of eating the same thing every hour (or more) for up to 36 hours.

The other thing I strongly encourage is to find out what the event is using at their aid stations and make sure you can use them. Especially, electrolyte pills or drinks and other specific sports nutrition such as Gu.

My favorites: Swedish fish,Oreo cookies, fruits, peanut butter and jelly, and chick-o-sticks (all vegan by the way :0)