So you’ve made it to mile 75…

There are a few milestones during a 100 mile event. I would say every 25 or “marathon” is a significant point in the race. Personally, I like to take a picture of myself at each 25 mile mark in the race and often my watch so I know what time it was when I arrived. These milestones can be very challenging and they can be very motivating. It’s all about your mindset and your fueling. Let’s talk about fueling first. It’s technically the easier one.

Every endurance runner has hit the wall. For anyone who hasn’t, let me explain. The wall is when you get to a point in the race where your body just slows down and you feel like you can’t go no matter how hard you try. Usually, your mind also begins to tell you “this is too hard,” and “you’ve gone far enough,” and “I can’t go anymore.” We want you to run up the wall rather than into it.

What’s going on is that your glycogen stores are depleted. In other words, you need fuel and fast. What makes fueling at these points (yes you can hit the blasted wall more than once in a race) difficult, is your stomach may not want to accept any fuel, especially if you haven’t watched your water and electrolyte intake and you’ve got a weird balance going on.

Typically the first time you hit the wall is about 2- 2.5 hours into an event. That’s about how long it takes to run out of glycogen. For a Marathon, this is usually about 16-20 miles for most people. Depending on your pace, it may not be that far in or it may be farther. It may take longer because of your pace as well. Your body weight also will contribute to how long this takes. Regardless, if you don’t watch your fuel intake you will hit the wall.

The best way to avoid the wall, is to practice hitting it. Yep, run straight into a wall, over and over again. No it’s not very fun, but it will teach you at what point your body hits the wall and when to fuel to avoid it. You can hit the wall at any point in a race and you can hit it repeatedly. If you find yourself sinking into a mental or energy low, the first thing you should try, and fast, is to put some quick acting fuel into your body, along with some water. Easy to digest and heavy on the sugar.

Now we are diving into the mindset portion.

Usually the first 25 mile point is very exciting. You’re a quarter of the way through. You frequently train to this distance making your mind and body prepared and confident in reaching this point. If you get here and this is not you, see below on fueling. For the rest, let’s just blow past 25 miles.

Fifty miles in, this is a big one, especially for runners new to the distance. Again it can be very exciting to reach this point. You probably don’t train to this distance, although, we all hope you have done a fifty mile event and know a little bit about getting to this point. There is not always an aid station right at 50 miles but there is one close to it. This point can be difficult because you are staring down the same amount of distance to go. If you’ve had a challenging time getting to 50, your mind begins to spiral with “I’m only half way,” and “It will take even longer to finish this next half” and “My body already feels terrible,” and “My stomach is just not in this race.”

Well my friends, this can be a do or die moment. Your crew is vital at this point. Any RD should put a strong aid station at this point with volunteers (preferably other ultrarunners) with loads of experience at this aid station. You need to prepare your crew for this one. Make sure they know, there are no excuses and to get you in and out as quickly as possible. You’re best strategy is don’t linger, move. Don’t give yourself time to think about it. As you’re running into this check point start making a list in your head about what you need (No a nap or a break does not go on the list). Anticipate what your needs will be in your pre race planning and give the list to your crew. Have one of your crew members prepared to deal with your negative thoughts. You should know them pretty well through your training.

If you are on your own, and thinking about stopping. First, don’t just get to the next aid station and think about it again (unless you have a severe injury). Ask if anyone there is an ultrarunner and see what they think about you stopping. In your prerace planning, make sure you have a quick ziplock bag you can just grab and go. Prepare your drop bag at the aid station before this one to take care of other needs you may have by 50 miles such as a headlamp, warm cloths, new socks or shoes. If you can anticipate and address these slower needs at the aid station before, you will get out of the one closest to 50 miles faster. Put a little note for yourself in your drop bag with your mantra or other motivating saying on it. Perhaps it specifically addresses your negative thinking. You can also have a family member write you a short letter to read.

Bottom line, get your A$$ out of the aid station.

Mile 75 usually is not as bad as mile 50. Why? because you can see the finish line. You know how far you have to go. You know what it feels like and how long it will likely take. If you feel like you want to quit at this point, see above all the strategies for dealing with mile 50 (you can use these at any aid station where you think you may struggle). The big difference between mile 50 and mile 75, is it is dark by 75. You have been going for a long time. You are tired. Night time lows are worse than day time lows because it’s easier to come up with excuses to stop. “I’m tired,” and “I can’t see very well,” and “it’s cold,” and “I’m tired,” (yes I know that one is on there twice).

Here is the thing to remember when working through any low moment in the race. It does not last. Things come back up. It’s the way this distance works. It is the wonderful thing about this race distance. It is the big life metaphor of this race distance. You go up, you come down, you go up, you come down, just like the mountains you are likely climbing over.

Something amazing happens between 5 and 7 am (depending on where you are on the planet and the time of year). The sun rises. Yep, it happens every day. It will happen on the day of your event. I can promise you that it will happen. I can’t guarantee anything else during a race, besides this one thing. Everything changes when the sun comes up. If you are struggling through the night as a middle of the pack runner or a back of the pack runner, remember this… The sun always rises and with the sun, hope, belief, and renewed determination.

Run happy!

Covid’s Impact

I want to take some time to acknowledge the struggle so many people are experiencing right now. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on everyone and runners have not been spared. So many individuals and families are struggling to meet their basic needs. Those who suffer from mental health issues have seen an increase in their symptoms and those who don’t are finding themselves struggling with anxiety and depression, some for the first time in their lives.

The lock downs have made it difficult, if not impossible for runners to train on a consistent basis. My advices to runners is be forgiving towards yourself for any missed runs/workouts. Think of the down time as recovery time. Try not to stress too much over the loss of fitness because it comes back with consistency and time.

Come back at a pace that is comfortable for you and won’t result in injury. Start slow and then increase mileage based on how your body is adjusting. Don’t try to make up for the lost training. Keep taking rest days as you normally would.

Where I live they are starting to hold races. I’m not participating in these early races as I haven’t been vaccinated and I have a young child who cannot be vaccinated until probably next year some time. Many runners are comfortable starting to re-engage in races and I think race directors are trying to balance keeping their races/businesses afloat and health for the participants.

It is my hope that by the end of summer or early fall we will be able to get back to racing in a way that resembles pre-covid-19 races. I think that many race directors will continue with some of the precautions that have been put in place particularly the hand sanitizer. Thinking back on the dirty sweaty hand dunked into the bowls of chips and candy on the aid station table, kinda makes me a little nauseous.

It is hard to see that Covid-19 has brought anything good to our lives, but I encourage you to do so as we move forward. The implementation of video conferencing in some many areas has allowed “face to face” contact with family members and co-workers that would not otherwise have had contact. I have participated in weddings virtually and families have been present for adoption hearings in court.

We have had to get creative to maintain our running. Runners who have always had partners, have had to set out on their own. Runners who run outdoors on trails and roads have had to rely on treadmills or laps around their homes/garages.

Running virtual races is not as fun without the community of runners motivating and supporting you through those lows and celebrate with you through the highs. They have provided us with some purpose and some motivation to keep us lacing up through this. I appreciate all the race directors who scrambled to put things together and got really creative with encouraging and motivating runners.

Covid has been extremely difficult on many people and will likely take others years to recover from. The ultrarunning/trail running community is so supportive of one another that I know we will get back to running in the woods with one another soon.

Gloves

I want to talk gloves before the winter is completely over, at least where I live. I realize that it is always winter somewhere. My hands get cold when I run. Not just a little cold but painful red, you should really go inside and make a serious effort to warm up those babies, cold.

I have tried many gloves. I have tried multiple gloves. I have tried combining gloves and mittens. I’ve tried multiple mittens. I’ve tried different materials and thicknesses. I have used handwarmers. I have used multiple handwarmers. My hands just continue to get cold. In fact, my right hand gets much colder than my left. Now, my hands tend to get cold a lot anyway but it has become pretty ridiculous. They are typically okay on a two hour run, but on my long runs they get cold.

Taking pity on me and probably sick of watching me buy more and more gloves, my husband bought a pair of SHAALEK heated gloves with rechargeable batteries for Christmas. I had looked at these types of gloves before and had decided they were probably too heavy and that I didn’t really want to run with 5lbs on my hands.

I love these things!

Are they heavy? yeah and a bit bulky and a bit weighty but once I’m moving along the trail with toasty warm fingers, I don’t notice at all. They have five heat settings (I’ve gone up to three). They are warmer than my other gloves and combinations (not including handwarmers) without being turned on at all. I’ve warn them for up to eight hours (back to back long runs) and haven’t had they die on me.

They say they are touchscreen capable but I haven’t found that to be true for me. If I had larger hands and there wasn’t space at the end of the fingers then I think they would be. They have the texture for the touchscreen which has worked in other gloves I have tried with touchscreen capabilities.

This company has socks and vests if anyone is interested. It’s all available on the website we all have a serious love/hate relationship with, Amazon.

anyone know why one of my hands gets colder than the other?

Have you found any super warm gloves?

Run Safe and Run Happy

Return to 100s

As promised, here is my report on the DIY 100 I ran in September 2020. I actually ran two virtual 100s, one in September and one in October. Both virtual races through Destination Trail which is run by Candace Burt an amazing ultrarunner herself. I will talk about the October one in a later post. Setting up your own 100 mile distance is quiet the challenge. In addition to the normal stuff you have to organize for a 100, you also need to come up with a route and where the aid stations will be situated. Aid stations mean considering where your crew can access you, what time you expect to be there, they need to bring everything for you not just the extras beyond what the aid stations have available.

The route that I chose for my first attempt was a 50 mile loop and about 25 miles of it followed the old Wasatch 100 route that goes over Chin Scrapper. I hate going over Chin Scrapper by the way. It is about a 150-200 foot scramble up very steep loose rock to a ridgeline. Now I have never run the Wasatch 100 but because I live in the area and have paced at the race, I felt pretty confident about the route even though I had not run the entire loop before. I had run about 75% of it. I knew there were fresh springs at at least two points along the 17ish mile section where I would not have crew support. I didn’t think I would need the springs with the cooler temperatures but they were there and I knew how to find them. This route would be about 20700 feet of ascent total over the whole 100 miles

I started out at 5am the morning of the race. The start consisted of me saying good by to my husband and heading up my driveway. The hope was to finish under 30 hours. My crew consisted of my husband and two friends. Due to the pandemic, I had no pacer. My aid stations were set at mile 11.5, 27.5, 40, 45 and then 50. I made it over Chin Scrapper and found my way over to Francis Peak just fine. From there, I followed Skyline drive to it’s end. It got hot near the end of the first loop and the dirt road is packed HARD and was bruttal on my feet during the 13ish mile decent. After that there was what I would call mostly flat 12ish miles. Yes that means that 90% of the 10k+ feet of climbing was contained in about 25miles of the loop. I didn’t want it to be an easy return to 100s after all.

I finished the first loop about an hour and a half ahead of schedule and felt good. My feet were still killing me and it was getting dark. I loaded my pack up and headed out for the second loop. As the darkness deepened and temperatures dropped, I got stuck in my own head and started rerouting myself so I didn’t have to go over Chin Scrapper, alone, in the dark, when I was usually at my most tired during a 100. I began texting my husband telling him I was concerned about going over Chin Scrapper and was thinking of doubling back after meeting him and going up another canyon where I would meet back up with the original route (where my crew was meeting me). He agreed that if I wasn’t comfortable going over it that I should change the route. From there my mind spiraled down and I started focusing on how my feet were hurting and how I was only half way and how long it would take to finish, how I missed my two year old daughter, would she be okay going to night night without mom for the first time. I fell into the Pain Cave and lost the way out.

When I arrived at mile 62 to meet my husband, he had our daughter with him. I told him I wasn’t sure I was going back out. He wasn’t sure what to do with that. We started dating when I was well established in my 100 miles and finishing was never questioned in a race. He had never seen me stuck in the Pain Cave. I sat there thinking about my options and decided I would stop for the night and go back out and finish 38 miles in a couple of days (when it fit in our schedule for me to do it). I knew I would regret this decision.

The next morning I felt fine. My feet didn’t hurt or anything. As promised, I was very disappointed in my decision to stop and determined to finish the 100 miles in one go. I registered for another 100 miler and planned to run it the next month. I did go out and finish the 38 miles. I had my husband drop me off where he had picked me up and I climbed my way back up to Chin Scrapper and made my way over.

The midway aid station is the most dangerous for many ultrarunners. It is the hardest one to get out of. I had forgotten this fact. I had dealt with this situation during my first few 100s. It is the thought of how far and how long you have come and knowing you have just as far and probably longer, time wise, to go. On a loop route, you know exactly what you are in for so that adds to the pit you fall into. I’m glad I had to relearn this and many other things about myself on this race. It was good to be sent back to the starting line although frustrating too.

The takeaways from this are that even experienced ultrarunners DNF (did not finish or did nothing fatal) and they have challenging times during a race. Second is you will regret not finishing the 100 so make sure you are stopping because you need to rather than stopping because you want too. Third, prepare your crew to deal with you in your dark moments no matter how many races you have completed without getting to the darkest places.

Running While Breastfeeding

Many women believe breastfeeding their child will help them lose the weight they gained while pregnant. While it’s true that breastfeeding burns about 500 calories a day. If you’re not running a deficit you’re not going to lose weight. But how much of a deficit is okay when your breastfeeding?

This is an important question for any endurance running mother who is breastfeeding her child, even when not trying to lose weight. Having enough milk to feed your child is obviously very important if you want to continue breastfeeding. The best way to maintain your milk supply is to drink lots of water and eat enough calories.

Many ultrarunners survive on calorie deficit pretty much everyday. Even marathon runners are going to have days where they don’t replace all of the calories they’ve burned. If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re going to have to fiddle with your calorie intake, but start with a 200 calorie deficit. Wait a couple of weeks before creating a bigger deficit. You shouldn’t be doing any dieting until your milk supply is well established at about eight weeks post partum. You shouldn’t be losing more than a pound a week.

Runners who are not trying to lose weight will need to monitor their calorie intake and milk supply.

The available research shows that exercise does not impact the composition of your milk. Breast milk contains protein, carbohydrates, and fats to help your baby grow. The other important thing your milk gives your baby are the antibodies you already have in your system.  This is a major reason breastfeeding is recommended. Your baby can’t get those antibodies from formula.

Spend some money on a good sports bra. You’re going to need some solid support. And when your baby is under a year, you probably need a bra you can nurse in too. The Brooks Juno has been perfect for me.

Newborns eat every two hours or more frequently. Feeding on demand is the best way to make sure you have enough milk and your baby is getting what he/she needs. Infants feed every 3 hours. This means it’s going to impact your running. Once your baby has a schedule, you should be able to get away for shorter runs. Long runs over two or three hours will require some planning and help. You’ll either have to have someone bottle feed your baby expressed milk or bring the baby to you to feed her. If you bottle feed, the issue you’ll run into is full breasts. You’ll have to stop to pump milk. There is a new breast pump called the Willow. It fits into your bra and doesn’t have any wires or tubes. Find it here.

Running ultras and breast feeding are definitely compatible.  Here are some tips to make the partnership work out:

  1. Feed baby or pump before you go out for a run
  2. Make sure you are consuming enough water and calories to maintain your milk supply.
  3. Find a way to pump on the run or feed baby during long runs.
  4. Get a really supportive sports bra.
  5. Be flexible with your running schedule to meet your baby’s needs especially before some predictability is established.
  6. Consider splitting long runs up.
  7. Take baby with you on runs and stop to feed if needed.
  8. Pay attention to caffeine in your sports gels, chews, and hydration.
  9. Throw a hand pump in drop bags where you can’t feed your baby. You’ll just have to dump it, but it will make you more comfortable. You don’t have to empty your breast just skim some off the top.
  10. Practice the plan during training, before you register for a race.

Happy running!

 

 

 

The Perils of Water and Running

Water on the trails mean mud. Mud comes in variety of thicknesses, much to our great joy. Super thin mud is just as treacherous as the thick, suction your shoes off, mud. So how do you navigate running through the mud? Well, it’s a bit treacherous and takes a bit of recklessness.

Thin mud, almost just dirty water, doesn’t stick to the outside of your shoes. It infiltrates the inside creating optimal conditions for blisters and having your skin rubbed right off. Having shoes that drain water well will help but the dirt tends to remain in your shoe while the water escapes.

Try to prevent the mud from getting to your feet by wearing plastic bread bags over your feet and under your socks or over your socks, which ever is more comfortable for you. If you know you’re going to be going through mud, take extra shoes and a bunch of extra socks. At each aid station you’ll need to clean your feet and change socks.

All of these suggestions are applicable to thick sticky mud as well, especially, having extra shoes. If you have a ways to go in the thick stuff trying to scrape it off your shoes is a waste of time. Keep moving and take care of it at the end because it’s just going to get stuck back on their within a few minutes and it probably took you three to five minutes trying to get it off.

Have your crew clean your shoes while you’re out on the course. That way you’ll have a pair of slightly cleaner shoes to put on while they clean the second pair. Pack a bucket and a scrub brush in your crew vehicle to be used to clean your shoes. Having a bundle of news paper on hand to shove inside your shoes will help absorb the moisture and maintain the shape of the shoes. Your crew should remove your insole or footbed before washing your shoes.

Your feet are not the only thing that suffers when you encounter mud and water on a course. There are unknown hazards that you can’t see. Rocks and roots are waiting to twist your ankle and bring you to your knees. This is where the bit of recklessness comes into play. Sometimes it’s best to maintain a running pace rather than pick your way through feeling with your foot. This becomes more true the longer you’re going to be in the mud. Keep your stride short.

Prepare you body for mud running by practice. Don’t shy away from the tough stuff when you’re training. Write out the ABC’s with your foot raised about six to ten inches in the air. This will help the brain-foot connection enabling you to move your feet when you feel unstable. Train with an agility (speed) ladder to improve your ability to move your feet quickly through rocks and roots. Squat and calf raises. Lots. Balance exercises are also going to be valuable.

If you’re looking for a post about running in a pool, you can find my post on that here.

If you’re looking for a post about river crossing, I have one here. 

 

Running in Sand

Running through sand is a great way to strengthen your feet, ankles and other stabilizing tendons and ligaments. If you have a race coming up with significant sections of sand, be prepared. Sand is rough on tendons who go in without experience and if the sand trap is early in the race, you could be in a world of hurt.

The other issue with sand is that it gets into your shoes and your socks. I’ve dumped sandboxes out of my shoes when running in southern Utah. A toe box full of sand not only cramps your feet, but it causes blisters and weighs you down. You have two options; keep it out or get it out.

The most effective option is to go barefoot. However, this comes with it’s own set of risks, such as cutting or burning your feet. If you’re choosing this option make sure you’re feet are strong enough for barefoot running and that your Achilles tendon is in good shape. Shoes limit the amount the Achilles stretches, so if you wear shoes all the time and then suddenly run barefoot, you’re likely to strain or tear your Achilles. Slowly build up to the distance you’ll be running barefoot.

To keep sand out of your shoes you can put your feet in plastic grocery sacks or bread bags before putting them in your shoes. This will keep the sand off your feet and out of your socks. You can also put it over your entire shoe, but it may just rip or cause your shoe to slip.

Getting it out of your shoe is a challenge, as anyone knows who has played on the beach and gone home. You will find sand in your car and every where in your house for at least a week.  You’re unlikely to be able to get all of the sand out. Dump your shoe and beat it on a rock or the ground. Same thing with your socks. Best if you can pack extra socks and just pull those on. This will require a lot of socks if you have repeated sand sections. With your socks and shoes off, wash your feet.

Running barefoot in sand is an excellent way to reduce your calluses, but a race is not the time to take sandpaper to your feet, so make sure you get between each toe. If, later in the race, you feel sand in your shoe, you’re better off taking the time to clean out your shoe than developing a blister(s).

When you begin training on sand, run on the wet stuff first. It’s more firm and wont tax your stabilizing tendons and muscles as much, thus giving them time to adjust to the increased load. Running on sand takes more propulsion which translates into a slower pace.

Chose a pair of shoes that are dedicated to sand running and don’t take them in the house!

 

Running Preggers: Pelvic floor

There are three muscles that take the brunt of the stress from pregnancy: the uterus (which is a group of muscles), the rectus abdominis (six pack), and the pelvic floor. It takes the uterus approximately 6-8 weeks to return to it’s normal pre-pregnancy size after the baby is born. We addressed the rectus abdominis in my last post regarding Diastasis Recti.

The pelvic floor muscles are like a sling or hammock that attaches to your pelvic bone and your tail bone. Having a week pelvic floor is not an uncommon thing even in those who have never been pregnant. In fact, men can have problems with their pelvic floor.

Your pelvic floor holds in your uterus, bladder and bowl. Only bladder and bowl in men obviously. Having a strong pelvic floor is important for both pregnant and non-pregnant people. The main symptom of a weak pelvic floor is incontinence or urine leaking, especially, when you cough, sneeze, laugh or during running. You can also have feces leak, but that’s less common. Because this is so common among women, many think it’s normal, but it’s not.

An even more serious issue than leakage is prolapse, which is when one of your organs falls down into your vagina. prolapse has to be corrected with surgery.

Having a strong pelvic floor during pregnancy is obviously important because it holds your uterus inside your pelvis. You should begin doing pelvic floor exercises as soon as you know you are pregnant. In fact, everyone should do them, especially, runners because we can stress our pelvic floor every time we run.

So what are some pelvic floor exercises? First you have to be able to isolate those muscles. The best way to figure out if you are flexing the pelvic floor is to stop the flow of urine. Kegel exercises are the most recommended pelvic floor exercise. A kegel is done by flexing the pelvic floor. Men identify the pelvic floor and do kegels in the same way as women. If you can’t feel your pelvic floor (not unusual after childbirth), use visualization.

You should be doing kegels three times a day, at least. You want to do ten repetitions of two types. First, pull your pelvic floor up and hold for ten seconds, then release for ten seconds. You can shorten the time between each as you get stronger. The second is to flex and release 2 seconds up and 2 seconds relaxed.

Other exercises that work your pelvic floor are:

  1. bridge
  2. clams
  3. hover: sit on your heels with your knees apart rise up and pull your pelvic floor up.
  4. split squats
  5. wall sits
  6. squats.
  7. elevator: pull your pelvic floor up halfway and hold it for 3-5 seconds and then pull it in as much as you can. Release in the same way.

Begin with ten repetitions and two sets. Do these three to four times a week.

When doing pelvic floor exercises it’s important to coordinate with your diaphragm and your rectus abdominus. You should be using your diaphragm to breathe. To make sure you are, lay on your back and place one hand right at the bottom of your ribs and the other hand on your chest. As you inhale it should begin in the bottom of your ribs not in your chest.

You should be relaxing your pelvic floor with each inhalation and contracting your pelvic floor with each exhalation.

You can begin doing kegels a few days after your child being born. If you have stitches you may have to wait a little longer if they cause any pain.

Pelvic floor exercises should be done in a variety of positions including laying down, sitting and standing.

Training not Where You Wanted it to Be?

Life can get in the way of the best laid plans. Even when running is LIFE, the other pieces can interfere and put us a week out from race day with inadequate training and a mindset lacking in enthusiasm for the event ahead of us.

What do you do when your training just hasn’t been what you wanted it to be? Maybe it has been a lot less than you wanted it to be, to the point where you’re questioning your ability to finish the race? You have three options to choose from.

First, you can DNS (did not start) and cut your losses with that (most races won’t let you transfer your registration to another runner or carry it over to the next year). Second, you can go out hard pretending that your training was amazing and nothing can stop you. Third, you can show up to the start and see what the day brings with only an expectation to enjoy yourself.

The second option is likely to get you injured, which will only compound any frustration you feel about the situation. The first, I can understand if you’re coming back from an injury, which has killed your training and you really don’t want to risk causing more injury or compromising the healing process.

The third is the option I encourage most runners to take. You paid for the race after all and I think you will surprise yourself if you hold to a few suggestions and trust in your running foundation.

It’s important that you stay positive about the event and situation as much as possible-Hey at least you’re able to be out there. Make sure you are encouraging other runners as you come in contact with them along the course. Not only will your encouraging words impact them, they will impact you because, you hear them as well.

Summon your inner confidence. You’re a strong runner who has done hard things before. You finished races before. You know where to slow down and where to pick up the pace. You know how to fuel and hydrate. You know how to utilize your crew and pacers to help you reach the finish line. You’ve dealt with the “pain and suffering” of running before and can do it again.

Don’t discount consistency. If you’ve been able to maintain consistency in your training schedule but not the miles remember that consistency goes a long long way when it comes to running. Yeah, sure you wish you could have gotten in more long runs and more time on the trails, but at least you ran every day you had scheduled to be a run day even if it was only for an hour. Consistency keeps your muscles and tendons strong. It also keeps your mental game strong.

Trust your foundation. If you’ve been running for years and this is just one of many races you’ve done trust your body. You have the running foundation to push through a race even on less than the best training.

Get out to the starting line and assess your body’s condition as you go. You don’t want to get injured, but don’t miss a chance to play on the trails and show yourself you can do things even when they don’t turn out just the way you had planned.

Self-Supported Long Run

Why would you do a self supported long run? why not? Planning out a route and setting everything up is great practice for running any ultra. It’s also good training if there isn’t a local “shorter” ultra race you can throw in your schedule before your big event.

Let me first clarify what I mean by self supported. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to carry all the stuff you’ll need for the entire distance you are running. It just means you’re the one setting everything up. You can have drop bags or meet up with a supportive friend/loved one to get additional items or trade out gear.

There are two main goals for doing this type of run. First, to get a good taste of where you are at in your training and what you  need to work on. Second, to get a good idea of how to pack drop bags and what you’ll need at particular places during a run.

The distance of the run depends on the distance of you’re main event. If you’re running a 100, consider putting together something between 40-50 miles. Yes, you’ll have to take a few days off afterward to recover, but you’ll be doing this two months before race day so you’ve got some time. If you’re running a 50 miler, shoot for 30 miles.

If you’ll be running at night during your race, setting this up as a night time run or an early evening (finish in the middle of the night) run is going to help you get more comfortable with the night portion. It’s also helpful if you don’t just sit around or sleep all day before you do this run. If you work, go to work. If you need to do grocery shopping, do it. This will give you a good sense of running tired.

If you’re running during the night, I would encourage you to find someone to go with you to keep you company and for safety reasons. Also make sure you are familiar with the route you’re taking since it wont be marked like it would be in a race.

Figure out your route

Try to find something that is similar to what you’ll be running in your race. Maybe not as difficult, but similar terrain wise. Don’t choose a road route, if you’re gearing up for a single track trail race, unless you don’t have any other choices. Find a route where you can meet someone once or twice to refill your supplies. Even if you’re not meeting up with anyone, make sure someone knows when you’re leaving, the route your taking, and the time you expect to be finished (just in case).

You might be able to place drop bags along the route or just pack them and give them to your support crew to bring with them and then only use the supplies out of the bag for that stop (unless its injury related, of course). This will help you know what to pack for a real event.

Get creative and have fun with your very own ultra event.