Above: Bike Diva crossing the finish line after her first ever half marathon trail run.
Although this blog is called Bike Diva, I do a bit of running from time to time. My favorite type of race is duathlons, run-bike-run, so I actually have to do quite a bit of run training. My last official "race" was the Dopey Challenge at the Disney Marathon in January. That was 48.6 miles of running over a 4 day period, the last day being the marathon.
While I've done a ton of half marathons, I've only done 2 marathons. It was quite the struggle to complete 26.2 miles so the thought of becoming an ultra-runner seems a bit intimidating. But there are a few ultra runs near me, including a 50k (30 miles) trail run at one of the local parks. I did the half marathon trail run at the park last year but have yet to put in the training to become an ultra runner, maybe in the future!
Ultra Running is Cool
Ultra running has really hit a vein of popularity in recent years. Whether it’s the challenge, the endorphins, or the thought of pushing yourself further and further to near and often past breaking point is hard to know. However, one thing’s for sure – it’s here to stay.
Whether you’ve begun endurance running, have thought about it at one stage or another or are even a hard-core lover of endurance running there are some essentials that you will need to make the most of your experience.
Pacing is everything
Be a tortoise when running an endurance race and remember to pace yourself. A lot of people find they end up in serious trouble because they try to beat their personal best on race day. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it does greatly increase your chance of becoming injured or tiring yourself.
Mental preparation for the endurance race is an essential and you have to know that it’s going to hurt and get your head around that fact. Failing to do mental prep will leave you disillusioned and increase the chance of you giving up. These tips should help your prepare for the long slog ahead and the victory at the end.
Hydration and Food
Staying properly hydrated, either with water or an electrolyte solution, is key to long distance running. Food is so important before an event like this and you need to plan what you’re going to eat on race day to make sure you stay focused. Different sorts of foods work for different people and you need to experiment and get yourself out there. Gels are great during the race, but think about what you eat a day or 2 before the race. Foods like oatmeal, jam sandwiches and pasta will help you carboload and are the key to successfully completing an endurance race.
Think Long term
While a blister may not be a big deal during a 10k, if you’re running for up to 10 hours it can be. Prepare for the posibility of a blister in advance. Products like Aquaphor or Vaseline should be used on your feet before you put your socks on, to help prevent blister during the race. Fail to prepare; prepare to fail. You might even want to bring an extra pair of socks with you, in the event you encounter muddy, wet trails during a trail run.
In your Stride
Taking things in your stride by breaking up the run into smaller goals can really make it a lot easier. Give yourself an easy goal, like "I'm going to run to that large pinetree in the distance before taking my next walk break." Take walk breaks whenever needed and remember that once you keep putting one foot in front of the other you’ll eventually reach the finish line. Good running or walking shoes help immensely – WebTogs have a good selection and even stock the excellent North Face Hedgehog – a great shoe for seasoned walkers.
Good quality gear can be a significant aid no matter how well-trained you are. The weather, your feet and a range of other things can cause problems, so be aware of these variables and pack and use suitable equipment. Good running shoes, quality gear from companies such as North Face and other items will help. In addition, pack some warm clothing, an extra pair of socks, band-aids, a phone, food and a map to make sure you have no problems when getting there.
Following these tips will greatly improve the chance of your ultra running event being a success letting you feel the pride of completing an endurance event.