Ultra Runners

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Running 1st ultra (12hr) in fall - progress report posted (Read 377 times)


Muddling through

    As I mentioned in the RWOL ultra thread, I'm a middle distance runner who decided to find out first hand what's so great about ultras. Before I decided to enter NC24 for the 12-hr option on Sep 21st, I'd already committed to a series of indoor track meets where I will be racing 800m and the mile. The last meet is March 3rd and I can shift my training focus at that time. I haven't raced farther than 10K in almost 5 years and it's been 31 years since I raced a marathon. After early May it's very difficult to find anything but 5Ks around here. The only option I definitely know of is the 4th of July race I run every year which also has 10K and 15K options.

     

    I currently run about 30 mpw with my longest weekly run in the 7.5-10.5 range. I was able to upload some basic for this year from my Excel log and I think I've set the options so people in this forum can view them. My best recent race was a 2.9 mile race by Garmin measurement in 25:12, about the equivalent of a 27:05 5K, on rolling hills. If age is a factor, I'm 66. I hope to continue to increase my weekly mileage to 35-40 mpw by the end of February.

     

    How important would it be to find and run some longer races?

     

    How much of a transition might I need after the indoor track season and what would be some reasonable ways to make the transition?

    2014 Goals: Run first trail ultra, first 100K, and see what I can do in a 24-Hour race


    Duke of the Internet

      George-I applaud you for trying something different and joining the ultra world.  I only run trail ultra's (versus timed events), so I don't have any specific advice.  I wish you luck in September. 

        I would make long runs a routine during training, regardless of your overall weekly mileage.  I have had good results from reserving one day a week for a long-distance run, but using every fourth week as a recovery week with shorter distances.  Gradually increasing the long run distances or even running back-to-back long runs on weekends will help you make the transition from speed to endurance, with a concentration on earning time on your feet, even if the long run is an uncomfortably slow one.

         

        It's tough to go into specifics with advice aside from that, but the best advice that I have to give is to embrace the concept of "relentless forward motion" during your 12-hour event.   As Dean Karnazes wrote in Ultramarathon Man, “If you can't run, then walk. And if you can't walk, then crawl. Do what you have to do. Just keep moving forward and never, ever give up.”,

         

        With shorter races (10K events and such), I am always confident that I will finish the distance, even if I am nervous about finish times.  With ultra distance events, though, I have always gone through times during the race when I did not feel as though I could complete the event.  This has applied to the fixed-time races as well.

         

        An ultra-distance is a rollercoaster of emotional and physical highs and lows.  You may feel depressed and exhausted at one point, but you will eventually feel better if you keep moving and keep taking in nutrition. 

         

        I was running low weekly mileages when I competed in my first 12-hour race (A Stroll in Central Park 12-Hour) that consisted of a 1-mile loop with two hills.  I established a plan to run Galloway intervals, but the running intervals were quite long and ambitious, so I had to improvise and make the run intervals shorter over time.  Eventually, I suffered an energy drop and started walking nonstop, telling friends that I had nothing left to give at this race and that I was planning to drop out of the event.  Eventually, I got my mojo back, and ended up finishing with 52.5 miles. 

         

        Relentless forward motion is the trick.  When you feel that you have nothing left to give physically, concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other, however slowly, and you may feel an amazing boost of energy later on.  Things will take a turn for the worse during your race, but things will also get better inevitably as long as you soldier on. 

          I think it will be especially beneficial for you to work in both a half marathon and a full between now and then.  Not only will training for those help you build your endurance, they'll also give you practice in starting off conservatively and keeping a somewhat even pace for the duration.  Given your focus on shorter distances I could see there'd be a tendency to start off way too fast and then fade to a death march.

           

          Looking forward to reading about your progress and reading your report for your first ultra!

          Upcoming races: 10/12 Victoria Marathon, 12/7 Tucson Marathon, 12/13 Deception Pass 50K, 3/27-28 Umstead 100


          Uh oh... now what?

            "If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk,

            if you can't walk then crawl,

            but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward."

             

            Long before there was a Dean Karnazes, there was

            the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and it is he who

            spoke those lines in a speech in Chicago and other

            places in speeches he gave during the Civil Rights

            Movement.

             

            How important are long races? 

            a) If your training was appropriate and you believe in your training, not very important.

            b) If you need certified courses and the results from them to believe in your progress, they are crucial to your confidence.

            c) If your recovery is good, you could use road marathons, road ultramarathons (sort of rare), or find a trail ultra that is on a runnable course and use them for long training runs.  The advantage of these is built-in aid stations for a long run; you can play with the fuel riddle (one of the more difficult questions to answer for successfully running ultramarathons).  The major problem for some (97.2% for you) is being able to run, not race an official paid-a-fee-for-it event.

             

            There is plenty of time from March 3rd to September 7th to build the needed endurance--even with a couple of weeks rest (recovery?) after March 3rd and a two-week taper going into the NC24 event.

             

            There is no easiest way.  Endurance running, oddly enough, is hard.  It is nigh on to impossible for some to grasp 10-minute miles as running (sixty miles at a 12-hour).  Given a choice, I run long on the weekend, medium on Wednesdays.  Your mind will have to decide what long and medium mean and how you can increase them as the spring and summer passes.

             

            You will probably hear about "back to backs" ( B2B or B2Bs ).  Long runs on two consecutive days.  Some approach them as gospel, some don't.   The right way will be what your body and mind can stand.  Rest will be important, as much for the mind as for the body.

             

            Good reading:  A Step Beyond:  A Definitive Guide to Ultrarunning, ed Don Allison

             

            Decent Web site:  http://www.ultrunr.com  -- plain looking, but it still applies

             

            Best wishes on the journey.

             

            rgot

             

            John M.

              Mostly agree with the other, especially the relentless forward motion.

               

              I think you've already crewed or watched or helped in some way at NC24 so you know what the course is like and how the aid is set up. Grab and go as needed.

               

              While I know you're not used to eating and drinking in a race, that may be very important for a 12-hr race. Getting the hydration, electrolytes, and fuel right is one of the most challenging issues in longer events - and the frequent undoing even for elites.

               

              I'm not convinced that longer races are that important as prep for a 12-hr as long as you get the training in. Like John said, if you do the work and trust in your training, not having a race isn't that big a deal. If, however, you need pace numbers, etc, then they may be important for your mental preparation. I jumped from about 15 mi to 38 mi (13 hr, trail, no aid stations) with no intermediate distances because there were none. That said, having a race as a training run can be helpful for a change of scenery and getting some additional experience in. We generally don't have aid stations, but the few races that have had them are all completely different setups. Being exposed to those is what I include in "experience" along with various kinds of trails, etc.

               

              Long runs will be important to work out your hydration, electrolytes, and fuel as well as shoes and other gear issues. I've got lots of shoes I can wear for a couple hours, but only a few that work for 4+ hrs - but I found that out by doing long runs. I was taught that long runs for ultras start at about 4 hrs since that's when you start training your endocrine system for longer events.

               

              It looks like your race is on flat asphalt. Since you're used to tracks, that may not be as much of an issue as it is to trail runners who are used to going up and down hills with occasional walk breaks - constantly changing the muscle usage. There's another discussion or two on these boards about run only or run / walk for strategies. If you run/walk, you need to train to run, walk, and transition both ways. Some people have no problem with this, others are really challenged by the changes.

               

              For a historical note, take a look at some 1967 and 1973 entries in Tom Osler's running life - esp. the part about fueling and run/walk. (Osler introduced run/walk to Galloway according to Galloway's book.)

               

              You'll find that for most ultras, there's a lot more than just amassing miles or time on feet.

               

              Sounds like you'll probably have another FE there, so you'll have lots of moral support to help you along. Have fun.

              "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

                Starting in March, you may want to start thinking about running in terms of "time" instead of "distance." This shift in thinking helped me in my one timed event attempt.  For example, rather than heading out the door for a 20 mile run...I would shoot for 4 hours and see where that got me.  This helped me focus more on nutrition and my run/walk strategy rather than thinking about how many miles I had left.  It also reinforced the idea of not going out too fast because no matter how fast I ran the first hour....I still had 3 more to go.   

                 

                Another thing that I had to learn was to have more than one nutrition strategy.  I've tested many different foods/gels/drinks on the run so it is likely when I simply cannot eat another PBJ and the idea of a gel makes me stomach do a little flip late in a race...I'll know that Oreos and soup are a "safe" alternative. 

                 

                I second the idea of working in a full marathon.  It isn't a "must" but I like to use them as supported runs. I find them to be good motivation when I'm faced with such a long training period.  YMMV

                 

                I'll be interested in your progress as you make this transition.  Have fun!


                Muddling through

                  I'm relieved that several of you don't consider running several long races this summer as requisites. They are very hard to find without traveling long distances, which also makes them expensive. I will bump up my 4th of July distance from the 10K to the 15K. Although it's been many years, actually several decades, since I've run a marathon, I think I remember enough from my experiences to value the necessity of pacing. Hopefully I'll be able to work out what a reasonable pace will be on training runs. I think my biggest adjustments from comments so far are going to be eating on the run and incorporating walking as a strategy. I have a park nearby that has a loop almost the same length as the one used for NC24. I should be able to stash food, drinks, and other essentials in my car and simulate race conditions easily.

                  2014 Goals: Run first trail ultra, first 100K, and see what I can do in a 24-Hour race


                  Trail Dog

                    George, I am looking forward to hearing about your training progress. Great advice has already been given, but I will throw in my two cents. I have only completed two timed events (12 hours), but they were on trail so there were built-in walk breaks on the hills. My best advice is to experiment with your nutrition; and to find your "forever" pace. This pace feels effortless, but in my experience you really do have to practice because it feels a bit awkward at first, especially if you are used to running faster. Practicing on the park loop you described is a great idea -- running for 12 hours on a short loop is as much of a mental game as it is a physical feat. NC will provide plenty of distraction with the other runners and crew, but the hours spent keeping yourself distracted while running solo will help when you experience rough patches at the race.

                     

                    I'm sure you've already done this, but be sure to speak with Katrina (RedSparkle). You should also seek out ultra runners in your area - running with them, even on shorter road training runs, is a great way to get instant advice and feedback (vs. forums, which are great but not the same as talking and seeing in person).


                    Muddling through

                      Amanda, SueInTN has already provided some great advice elsewhere and I am a member of the NC24 FB group along with Katrina et al so that's another resource. My running club also had three members run Badwater this year, so I have local resources as well. I'm trying to take this very seriously and plan as far ahead as I can. This is going to be a big contrast to my first marathon, which I didn't even consider until two months before the race and didn't commit to until two weeks before.

                      2014 Goals: Run first trail ultra, first 100K, and see what I can do in a 24-Hour race


                      Uh oh... now what?

                        Amanda, SueInTN has already provided some great advice elsewhere and I am a member of the NC24 FB group along with Katrina et al so that's another resource. My running club also had three members run Badwater this year, so I have local resources as well. I'm trying to take this very seriously and plan as far ahead as I can. This is going to be a big contrast to my first marathon, which I didn't even consider until two months before the race and didn't commit to until two weeks before.

                        Nooooooooo... train, but do something to keep it fun.  Planning is good,

                        but adaption to changing needs is essential in running ultramarathons.

                         

                        rgot


                        Muddling through

                          Nooooooooo... train, but do something to keep it fun.  Planning is good,

                          but adaption to changing needs is essential in running ultramarathons.

                           

                          rgot

                           

                          Oh, I intend to make this a fun race, but I need to take it seriously enough to plan and prepare or it won't be fun come race day.

                          2014 Goals: Run first trail ultra, first 100K, and see what I can do in a 24-Hour race

                            Nooooooooo... train, but do something to keep it fun.  Planning is good,

                            but adaption to changing needs is essential in running ultramarathons.

                             

                            rgot

                             

                            What did your signature on "that other site" say? Wink

                             

                            Seeing how this will be your first ultra, conventional wisdom may work best. But be willing to adapt too. I was just checking my logs and noticed my longest LR was only 26.6 miles. I knew I wanted a longer LR. I suspect that it didnt happen because of the heat this summer. I did several doubles and triples on Sundays to get in more miles though. I also had a weekend mileage total I wanted to reach...didn't matter how many runs it took to get there, just that it got done. Plus I kinda felt I was on the verge of injury all summer, and keeping runs shorter helped prevent that from happening.

                             

                            Which leads to: don't get injured and try not to over-train. Rest is important.


                            Uh oh... now what?

                              What did your signature on "that other site" say? Wink

                              I didn't have one.  I sometimes typed it in after... hmm, I don't know.  I'll go check.

                               

                              Interesting to see someone using the weekend total thing--really good training tool.

                                Oops, sorry, John. I was referring to George's "Conventional wisdom is not always right" quote. My bad!
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