Last week I successfully completed another big block of training. With my legs fully encased in my recovery compression tights I took a few moments to reflect. Like most ultra runners there’s more to the daily to-do list than stretch, lace and run. Life is busy and we have to make the most out of the time we have. Planning large blocks of training can be challenging but they are necessary for success as an ultra runner.
Here is what I have learned from years of training.
Don’t be a jerk: By mid-week you’ll start to have some fatigue creep up on you. Being cranky and tired is no way to share the joy of running with those around you. Like Mom always said “sounds like cranky-pants needs a nap.” She was right. Go take a nap. It will keep peace and do your body good.
Also realize your prolonged absence around the house may be alleviated best by helping out with the chores. Wash the dishes, take out the garbage and help with laundry. We’re building runners here-not Divas.
Rotate shoes: This will eliminate rubs and hot spots in the same place. The difference in fit and feel of a change of shoes will keep your feet happy. I ran the first 55-miles last week in the same shoes and then rotated. Immediately my feet felt better and I ran fresher. I should have swapped out my shoes earlier. I even have multiples of the same models that I number (#1 #2 #3) with a Sharpie marker to keep track.
Pick new or scenic routes: With two days to go I was feeling pretty flat. I had been running the same repetitive routes from the house and I was bored. For the last two days I planned runs around rarely visited trails on the other side of town. The scenery was fresh and beautiful and it kept me motivated to make my weekly goal.
Keep drinking water: I have a water bottle with me at all times. I keep a bottle at my desk, in the car, on the bike and next to my bed. I am constantly sipping. When I get lazy with hydration I don’t feel as fresh and I don’t recover as quickly. I’ve also learned that most times when I can’t control my snacking it’s because I’m thirsty, not because I’m hungry.
Arrange partners later in the week: I like to run alone because it’s a reflective for me and I have a habit of singing Eminem songs out loud. Like so many others I run to get away from my work, phone and computer. I find that the right running partner makes all the difference on longer days. Be careful not to pick someone that is too fast. This may cause you to run above your abilities. It will also break your spirit to see your buddy float up the mountain while you are chugging away on tired legs. I have a very select few runner friends that don’t talk too much and like to run my pace. Talking to talk is just wasting breath. Now if there’s a rattlesnake or bear on the trial by all means-SPEAK UP!
Recovery is Key: The reason some people don’t last long in ultra running is because they don’t stick with the recovery side of the equation. I spend a large percentage of my time on recovery. I roll my foot on frozen golf balls under my work desk. I use the Stick and foam roller on my quads while watching TV. I get massages at least two times a week (spoiled!) and I employ icing after my longer runs. I also eat plants…yep…the vegan life has improved my energy and my mental edge knowing I am putting the best fuel into my body.
Try these tips and let us know what you have learned on your way to your bigger blocks of training. It’s really not about the actual number of miles. It’s about what you discovered about yourself and what might help others along the way.