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About the Author
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Running Your First Ultra
Customizable Training Plans for Your First 50K to 100-Mile Race
By Krissy Moehl
Page Street Publishing Co.Copyright © 2015 Krissy Moehl
All rights reserved.
FINDING YOUR DISTANCE: ULTRAMARATHON Q&A
Taking on an ultra is an ambitious goal, whether it is your first or 50th. Ultrarunning takes commitment, motivation and that little something extra, to endure and enjoy your training and racing. If you are excited, driven and willing to put in the necessary time, you will surprise yourself with what you are able to accomplish. And, if you pay attention, you will learn a lot about training, your body and your mental fortitude through the process.
To start, it is important to me that you check in with your lifestyle. Answer the following questions. These are questions to keep in mind as you plan your first ultra. Tackling them up front will help you set appropriate expectations for you and those close to you.
Have you had a recent physical exam/fitness test?
Do you have enough time to train, recover and remain engaged with work and family?
Do you have access to trails/training grounds?
Will your finances support your goals?
Is this something you want to tackle alone or do you desire the support of your family and friends?
Will your chosen training plan work with your current day-to-day schedule or are there some life adjustments you need to consider? What are they?
What are areas of your life that can yield during high-mileage training weeks?
What is motivating you to run an ultra?
a. I've run a marathon and I wonder what is next.
b. My friends are running one and think I should too.
c. I read a book about long-distance running, or talked to a long-distance runner, and it appeals to me.
d. Personal reasons. Examples: Health, weight loss, relationship woes, addiction recovery, lifestyle change
e. Other __________________________
Next, check in with your current fitness. Do you have a reliable foundation from which to build toward your ultrarunning goals? Be honest. It is important to start your plan from the required base. Example: Do not jump into the 100-mile training plan if you are currently running 20-30 miles a week. (See notes at the start of each training plan.)
Finally, dial in your race goal. Perhaps you have already answered this question or maybe you are debating on where to start. Either way, answer the following questions honestly.
For each of the following questions, circle one answer (a-c) per question. Additionally, circle (d) if it applies.
1) Which distances have you raced in the last 5 months?
a. 5k or 10k, half marathon, marathon
b. A couple of marathons and/or 50ks
c. 50 miler or 100 km
d. Multiple 50ks and a couple 50 milers
2) How many days a week can you run? (Schedule-wise and physically)
a. 3-4 days/week
b. 4-5 days/week
c. 5-6 days/week
d. 6-7 days/week
3) What mileage range have you averaged for the past three months?
a. 30-40 miles/week
b. 40-50 miles/week
c. 50-65 miles/week
d. 65-80 miles/week
4) How much time do you have to train?
a. 5-8 hours/week
b. 8-10 hours/week
c. 10-14 hours/week
d. >14 hours/week
5) What type of terrain will you primarily train on? What is most accessible?
a. Roads, dirt paths or single-track trails — relatively flat
b. Answer (a) terrain during the week, single track, varied to hilly trails on weekends
c. 40 percent time on answer (a) terrain, 60 percent on single-track trails (varied to hilly)
d. 30 percent on answer (a) terrain, 60-70 percent on single-track trails (mountainous)
6) What does your life dynamic include? Family? Work? Social?
a. I need to balance my training with work and family.
b. Work OR family is demanding, but I have flexibility otherwise.
c. My partner (and family) is (are) supportive. Work offers good flexibility.
d. This is my main focus.
Tally your responses. If you have mostly (a) answers, turn to here for a 24-week 50k training plan. If (b) answers dominate your scorecard, turn to here and review your 24-week 50-mile or 100-km training plan. Finally, if you primarily answered (c), dig in to the 48-week 100-mile plan here. Additionally, if you circled a minimum of two (d) answers, you can consider looking into more mountainous racecourses for any of the race distances.
I tend to train more effectively when I know the end goal. The next chapter will give you resources and tips on picking your first ultra race. Then you can plan your training to line up accordingly and start dreaming about toeing the line.CHAPTER 2
WHICH ONE WILL YOU RUN?
It is important to remember that your first race will always hold a special place in your heart. Perhaps someone has already convinced you of the perfect first ultra. Or maybe you heard about a race years ago and it is finally time to step up and give it a try. It is exciting to look at race websites, course maps and elevation profiles as you dream about running your first ultra. When it comes time to choose your first race, there are a few key points to consider.
DISTANCE. The Ultramarathon Q&A (here) will guide you through a series of questions and help you reach a realistic first goal. If your initial dream when you picked up this book was to run 100 miles, but you are currently running 30 miles a week, use the training plans to guide you to that end goal. Build and improve your functional base, learn about your body and progress through the distances at a manageable rate. Ex: Train for your first 50-miler 3–5 months after your first 50k. Recover. And then build for your first 100-miler.
LOCATION. Do your ultra dreams include international or cross-country travel? Or does the race across town, starting at your local trailhead, spark your interest? While traveling to race is an amazing way to explore the world, and I have raced more destination races than local ones, I encourage you to simplify the details of your first race. Travel and expenses can add unnecessary pressure and stress to your experience. Choosing a local race, or one in a familiar location (Ex: visiting relatives or friends and tying in a race), ensures close-to-home comforts and supports your usual routine as the race approaches. Get your first ultra under your belt and then let the exploring begin! With the popularity of ultra and trail-running booming around the globe, there is no shortage of amazing race experiences to engage all the senses. The concerns (expense, travel, different foods, jetlag, etc.) are also what make the experience more involved, engaging and exciting.
COURSE PROFILE. Consider the terrain you have available on which to train when picking your race. To prepare for a challenging mountain run you will benefit by having access to long ascents, preferably steep and technical, in order to practice both climbing and descending. Likewise, training on gnarly mountains will not prepare you for smooth, flat, fast bike paths. For your first ultra, I suggest picking a race that mimics your training grounds. If you are determined to run a race that does not mimic your training grounds, then there are training methods using your local terrain to help prepare you for success. (See Chapter 14, What Is Next?, here, section Next Race.)
RACE HISTORY. Your first ultra race should be at a well-established event. First, look over the race website. Is there enough information to plan your weekend? Do you have running friends that can recommend the event? Look for race reports that describe the details of the event you are considering.
Choosing a reputable race increases your likelihood for success and enjoyment in your first ultra experience. Do the reports boast a top-notch event? Or do you read of complaints and mishaps? Is the same race director (or a similar race committee) in charge each year? Or is the event constantly changing hands? Is this a business that puts on multiple events each year? Do you want a classic, homegrown event, or a streamlined business model? And finally, look into how many years the event has been held; I think a minimum of two or three years gives a sufficient understanding. While new events are usually established with the best intentions, I do not recommend picking a first-time race for your first ultra. Much like you are figuring out the nuances, so too is a first-time race director. Better to let them work out the bugs and for you to choose an established event.
As the sport of ultrarunning grows and evolves, access to information about events is much more accessible. Ultrarunning Magazine used to be the only resource for race reports. Now the magazine would be a book each month if it published every submitted story. This wealth of information that overflows to many online resources and to multiple magazines is your homework. Your highest priorities should include a well-marked course, an accurately timed event and sufficiently stocked aid stations. Bonus touches include nice awards, a community inspired pre- and/or post-race event and sponsor presence.
CREATE A BUDGET. This is not completely necessary, but may be helpful. If you follow this step prior to starting your training, you can set realistic expectations (there may be a few more costs than you originally planned) and minimize financial stress. See here for a race budget spreadsheet.
Final Thought: In March of 2000, I toed the line of my first ultra at the 8th annual Chuckanut 50km. The race initially started as an "If I can do it, you can do it" dare from a good buddy of mine and has resulted in my ongoing relationship to the event as the race director for 13 years (and still going!). My hope is that your first ultra will be filled with amazing memories and an ongoing connection.CHAPTER 3
TRICKS OF THE TRADE
->The Environment (here)
->Foot Care (here)
->Skin Lubes (here)
->Body Care (here)
->Bathroom Talk (here)
->Hydration and Nutrition (here)
->Recovery Windows (here)
->Core and Strength (here)
->Power Hiking (here)
->Night Running (here)
->Sleep Deprivation Training (here)
->Time on Feet (here)
->Preventing Issues (here)
There are lessons you have to learn the hard way by enduring the experience. Likewise, there are tips you can pickup from mentors to help you avoid unnecessary challenges. While the sometimes painful stories of how I came to learn the helpful tips in this section are entertaining, I hope by sharing them with you, your learning curve will be friendlier.
The most important lesson to me is that as trail runners we are aware of our environmental impact. We have the ability to move through the land lightly. We carry less, we cover more ground and we are able to see the beauty of an area, in what might be a three-day hike for some, in a day. Typically we do not camp overnight or cook in the backcountry. As shared users in the variety of landscapes that our feet take us through, it is our job to ensure that the beauty remains intact. Try the approach of sneaking through and minimizing your toll on the land. Pick up garbage, do not break tree limbs or remove plants. Apply Leave No Trace principles wherever you are. Realize your impact on the environment and do what you can daily to minimize your footprint. This lesson is learned on the trail and applies to life. Beyond running, I hope these actions translate to your daily routine.
Our feet start the chain and are the most important link in successful training and racing. From the skin to the ligaments, it is important to give our feet detailed attention.
You will discover more about shoe and sock options in the Gear section (here) with specifics to form and gate. Here I address matching the contours of the shoe with the flex points of the foot. Finding the right shoe and sock combination that work well for your feet is the first step. Utilize the knowledge and help of the staff at a specialty run shop to steer you in the right direction. Lace up the shoe as you would to run and bend and flex your foot through heal strike and toe-off. Most specialty running stores will encourage you to run around the block. Take them up on that offer and see if you notice any hot spots. Double-check the inside (liner) of the shoe. Try it on barefoot and see if you notice any stitching or rough spots that have potential to rub your skin. If you say, "once they break in," then you should try a different shoe. There is a model that will work for you from the start.
The trick that works for me is a shoe that secures the heel and instep with a lacing system and inner structure to reduce excess (back-and-forth and side-to-side) movement in the shoe. A wider toe box allows my toes to splay out and not be forced to rub together. As you pick a shoe model, depend on the structure and fit to minimize your foot slipping around; do not choose a smaller size. It is important to allow space for the expansion of the foot for long-distance running. The secure heal and instep also offer structure as the miles increase. I believe this support helps reduce fatigue by limiting extra motion and stress caused when trying to maintain foot placement in a sloppy fitting shoe.
And as your stride, strength and feet change with time, it is always good to reassess. This is another good reason to maintain a relationship with your local running store.
Good protection and traction underfoot go a long way to prevent stone bruising to the bottoms of the feet and to keep you upright on slabby rocks, in mud, snow or loose sand. A protection plate made of TPU or dense EVA foam through the midsole will help disperse the pressure of a sharp rock or unexpected root. The variety of rubber compounds and traction patterns adhere to the countless terrains. Accommodating your terrain is a great reason to have a quiver of shoes. My ideal situation with any piece of running gear is to not notice its presence because it is functioning perfectly with my body and the terrain.
Fortunately, my feet continue to toughen over the years and miles. I have found sock (see Gear here) and shoe combinations that work and, most importantly, I fix the little issues before they become big ones. One trick I've added to my race day routine is to shake a tablespoon of 2 Toms Blistershield in each of my socks before putting them on. The directions call for a teaspoon; I prefer a substantial coating. I have found this keeps my feet dry and the skin less prone to the suppleness caused from sweat or water crossings. There are runners that swear by skin lubes and coat their feet in a variety of petroleum jelly-like products. I encourage you to find what works best for you by testing these options on your longer training runs.
The Important Extras for Feet
I am a firm believer in regular pedicures for everyone. The polish is a fun touch (and either coats nails preventing black toes, or at the very least hides them), but it is the soaking, scrubbing, de-callusing (more on this in a second), moisturizing and massaging aspects of a pedicure that are the most beneficial. You can do this for yourself or pay for the special treatment at a salon; the point is to take care of your feet.
Calluses are feedback relating where the most stresses are being placed on your feet and there are a variety of opinions on what to do about them. Some feel they are hard earned and protect our feet, while other runners are disgusted by excess, dead skin. I feel there is a happy medium and I tend toward the less-is-more end of the spectrum. A blister forming under an excessive callus is even more painful than a surface blister. And if there is structural pain to the foot associated with your calluses, consider adjustments to your running form and footwear.
To keep calluses to a minimum, but not completely removed, I find using the PedEgg (which is like a fine cheese grater for your feet) every two-three weeks works wonders (follow the instructions!). Finally, a personal secret to prevent black toes is to keep toenails clipped short and filed flat. I always clip, file and decoratively paint mine about one week out from a race or long run. Your feet do so much for you; it is wise to look out for them.
The hardest lessons come when we first jump in, and they are the ones we remember the most.
Excerpted from Running Your First Ultra by Krissy Moehl. Copyright © 2015 Krissy Moehl. Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Finding Your Distance: Ultramarathon Q&A,
Which One Will You Run?,
Tricks of the Trade,
Train Your Brain,
Injury Management & Prevention,
Run Like a Girl,
Dig Deep and Discover,
Race Day Preparations: Ready? Set?,
What Is Next?,
THANK YOU & ACKNOWLEDGMENTS,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR,