So it’s a New Year, and time for deciding which race is going to be an “A” ultra race this year. To be honest you have probably already been thinking of this.
But here is how I plan it out:
1. Race: Distance: Location: Convenience:
I have a family. I love running. I love running long, but my family don’t and they think I am mad, along with some of my friends. So I need to plan accordingly. For me, traveling to a race is too much hassle. I do enjoy it as I did the San Francisco North Face 50 mile ultra race challenge and it was great fun. Races need to be a bit more local for me. So I firstly look at those races around Alberta and BC. Work out when is a good time for me to fit the training in, manage my family commitments and not be too exhausted or injured from the race. I do really enjoy the long running.
2. Training smart:
So as I have mentioned, I have to train smart. I have found that my training can consist of 2 weeks hard and one week easy. If I run back to backs then this helps build my stamina, endurance and ability to run long. I also have a dog who runs, slowly but this is great for the long slow runs. Walking the dog also helps improve time on our feet which is vital for ultra races. I start training with food almost immediately. Nutrition is really important with finishing a race. You must remember that as soon as you start to think negatively, your brain glycogen has dropped and you need to refuel. I will fit a massage and physiotherapy appointments in to my month to keep a check on my body and ensure it is functioning correctly. Also key is completing exercises for my gluteals, hips, core, hamstrings and quads. All really help improve my strength and running endurance. 3. Race Aspiration for an Ultra race: I look at the results and work out where I will be in the field of runners. I plan my range of time where I will reach each Transition area. I also plan what food I will eat when and where. Variety of food is important as your guts get incredibly irritable during a long run.
Develop plan A, B and even C as a back up so you understand what you will do if you start to struggle in the race. However, some flexibility and resilience is vital so you can manage anything unexpected. 4. Visualisation and Mental attitude for an Ultra race I tend to visualise the race and think about the dark times. I work out how much I really want to finish the race. I use mantras to get me through the bad runs. The bad training runs are the best character building session you can have. I remember crumbling a couple of years ago in a long run, but this only makes you stronger. The training is the hard part of the race.
I like to train hard and push through when things get tough. I believe that you can build a load of mental strength by doing this. I mentally think through the race and visualise finishing, where I can stop. Whatever helps you get through use it. Good luck and what are your strategies for races?