“Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams.”
Train back-to-back. Back to back long runs are key in any ultra distance. On a marathon you may do one long run a week increasing your distance close to the race day distance, but for the 50 my longest run was 36 miles (the second longest run was 24 miles). A Friday long run may have resembled a regular marathon training plan at 20 miles, but the difference is I’d run another 18 the next day. This gave me the endurance to tackle a distance longer than I’d gone before.
Speed walk. Sure, when I think of speed walking I think of pastel jogging suits and Walkmans. But adding speed walking into my training has been beneficial in Ironman and ultra distance running. Sometimes you can’t run and have to add in some walking. If you’ve practiced speed walking (especially on an incline), you can cover more distance in less time while still taking a break.
Load good music. On my last race I made the mistake of relying on Pandora to keep me entertained. Not to any surprise, the internet radio cut in and out and left me in silence for most of the race. For me, silence = a wandering mind = not good. This time I created a full playlist of my favorite relaxing and happy music and stayed away from anything too intense. Regular “running” music gets to be too much so I kept it low key with Jason Mraz, Third Eye Blind, Glee and Mumford and Sons.
Get a mantra. If you didn’t get this from my race recap, my mantra is what carried me through. Hands down. In the past I focused on “you only have one chance to do this.” For the 50, “stay in the moment” really helped. When my mind would wander to my Garmin or to how much my feet hurt, my mantra brought it back in and helped me push through.
Find your perfect shoe. I finally found my perfect running shoe (Brooks Pure Cadence 1), but I’d more than worn down my current pair with an Ironman, three marathons and an ultra. They started to give me joint pain so I upgraded to a new pair (the first model is gone so I went with the Brooks Pure Cadence 2). I only had time to wear the shoes for one day before the race. I recommend more break in time, but the fresh shoes were amazing for all the impact that comes with 50 miles.
Don’t get crazy. Don’t stray too far from your regular schedule on taper week. Sure, drink more water, stretch a little extra and hit the snooze button an extra time or two, but much more than that isn’t worth the stress.
The course. Sure, better conditions and training had a role to play in this being the first 50 I didn’t DNF. But now that I’ve attempted an eight-lap road 50 and a three/four-loop trail ultra, the trail reigns supreme. There’s no better distraction than mother nature. I shiver just thinking about the horrific lapped road course after spending such a wonderful day in the trails. When going for 50, go trails.
”A winner is someone who sets their goals, commits themselves to those goals and then pursues their goals with all the ability that is given to them. That requires someone who beleives in themselves, who will make self sacrifices, work hard, and maintain the determination to perform at the best of their ability.”
-C. Leeman Bennett
In case anyone is dying to know, here’s the gear I wore and would wear again: lululemon outfit: Run:Inspire Crops, 50 Rep Bra, swift running tank, Groovy Thong, hat. Socks: Feetures! Elite. Headphones: Yurbuds Inspire. Shoes: Brooks Pure Cadence 2. Compression sleeves: CEP (this brand offered more support than my beloved Zensah).
What would you add to this list?