Your First Trail 100 Miler – Part 2

You should now have a good idea as to whether or not you are brave or stupid enough to enter your selected 100 miler.
Either way, this is not going to detract from the fact that training is going to take a large part of your time going forward.
We mainly focused on the pre-entry analysis in the last post.

For this post, we will predominantly focus on how to research and plan training going forward.
Ideally, you would like a year or more to get yourself feeling comfortable for such a large distance.
Best to build slowly over time and after a solid rest. Resting and timing when to rest will also play a key part in achieving getting to the start line injury free.

As with the previous post, I will be breaking it up into steps/sections to attempt to make the flow of the document a tad easier and more pleasant.

Pre Training Analysis

Step 1 – List what you know

We have heard and seen that no one person’s body reacts the same to identical training programs, even at the same intensity, time of day, temperature, humidity, etc.
The reason for this is simple, we don’t live the exact same lives. While some tense up their muscles from stress others perhaps struggle to sleep as the brain unwinds, the point is we are different.

To make life a lot easier for yourself and your coach (really recommend a coach that has run a few of these and completed them) we are going to pick your brain on things you do know.

Starting with…

Race Nutrition

For most people, this will not be their first road/trail ultra.
What do you normally consume during a race?
Do you have a set plan in terms of what supplements you drink or consume?
I, for example, find that a rehydrate or cramp ease every 15km tends to help me stay on top of getting cramps. It is also vital for me to consume some sort of food at 50km like stew or chunky soup with bread, cheese, and biltong. Eggs and bacon is also a winner if possible.
In combination with this, at least 750ml of water is needed every 10km.
For a treat, I enjoy a good date ball that is made of dates, nuts, coconut, and honey. Kind of a reward snack for having reached a certain point in the race or training run.

This combination or strategy has worked for me during my long training runs.

If you do not have a nutrition plan that works for you or one that is rather more guesswork than anything else I recommend to make a huge mental note here. Knowing what does and does not work for your digestive system is a huge plus.
During your long training runs, you will also want to eat, this will teach your system to learn to handle food while running. This will also help you determine at what pace to run before/during/after consuming food.

Recovery

How long does it take you to recover after a marathon FULLY!?
Recovery in this instance means, absolutely zero stiffness or pain AND a back to normal low HR at regular low HR pace? What do I mean here…
During your training for a marathon, there will be some easy recovery runs that you would have done. These will either be pace based or HR based. An example, if I am well rested I can run at 6:15/km at my recovery pace. If I am slightly fatigued or have been training hard for the week that can be 7:30/km. That way I know I am feeling recovered after a marathon, in terms of HR if I am running anything from a 6:15-6:30/km for an easy recovery low HR run.
This is a very important fact to know, so don’t brush it off. How long does it take you to be back to that regular low HR recovery pace with no aches, niggles or discomfort?

This will predominantly give your coach a very good idea as to how to set your recovery weeks, in terms of intervals and intensity for these vital rest weeks as you go along in your training program.

Previous Injuries

What did you injure previously? How did this injury come about, a fall or overtraining or possibly overexertion during a race?
Knowing the cause of the injury and revisiting that moment in time can give you insight into what not to do. Try and write down the warning signs you had before it took place. You want to ideally avoid this at all costs during training.
What was your recovery time and what steps did you take to recover from this?

Initial Recovery Steps

What recovery steps do you take that have worked well for you in the past?
Some people find that a protein shake post a run has worked miracles for them others have found that 20min ocean baths or hot Epson salt baths have done the trick.

Others prefer and swear by supplements such as slowmag, rehydrate and or vitamin C intake post a run within 20min.

Sleep

This little piece of information is always overlooked and gently placed to the side. Our bodies recover best when we have had adequate and sufficient deep sleep.
What have you found in the past to be the recommended hours of sleep?
Do you perform better with a regular sleeping cycle?
Have you given much attention to this point before? A vast majority of runners have not. As an ultra-trail runner, this will become your strength or your weakness. Knowing where your best sleeping pattern lies can really give you the edge during building weeks of training.

Shoes and Socks

These two pairs of items can make or break your 100 miler experience.
Finding the right shoes for me personally was not a huge issue but the socks… I could write a whole book on just how darn difficult it was to find the right socks and knowing how to prep my feet to keep them blister free.
The point is though that this is definitely something you want to know as soon as possible. Unfortunately, it is literally a case of trial and error.
A short summary of my experience. I found that trail toe socks worked well for me. I use baby powder to dry my feet, apply Vaseline to the top of the toenails of each foot then place on the sock. Replacing my socks after river crossings or after 50km. I also run the race with a small towel to dry my feet.
Have also found that after all the river crossings to replace my shoes with the socks worked like magic.
It, therefore, is very important to know this before race day as to what works for you.

Weather

How does your body react to the weather? Some people really struggle when running in severe conditions. These people have to specifically do heat or cold weather training to get their bodies to adapt to conditions. Heat used to be my Achilles however knowing this I informed my coach and he made sure that my training program incorporated enough heat training.
Try research for the race the different possible conditions for the area and train accordingly. Doesn’t help to train in the snow if your race is in sub-Saharan Africa during the summer.

General Nutrition

Felt I had to separate race Nutrition from general Nutrition.
There is a lot of buzz going about as to what to eat etc during training.
My advice is just to make sure that whatever your preferred dietary plan that you consume enough calories in a day. Sounds really strange but make sure you are not starving yourself. It can be extremely difficult as a non-professional athlete to balance a busy lifestyle with enough food. Often you feel like skipping meals because you are just too busy with something. Stop and take the time to eat. Here again, it helps if you know what works for you from past experiences.
If you do not know what works for you or feel that maybe this could be improved upon then now is the time to see a dietitian before the hectic training starts.

General Recovery

How many days do you find that foam rolling and or stretching help?
Do you find that pre or post foam rolling works best? Perhaps rather doing this daily at night before bedtime has a better effect on your system? Do adding certain supplements in this part of your routine also assist with better recovery periods?
Trial and error if you don’t know.
From personal experience, foam rolling at night or at least 5h after exercise works well for me followed by a slowmag and 1 gram vitamin C. This way I minimise cramps in the night and wake up feeling less stiff than usual. In the mornings after a shower, I find that general stretching makes the day a little more bearable especially during building weeks.

Right, so this should give you a comprehensive idea of what you do or rather don’t know.
A lot of these points will come to light as you train.
I suggest having a good old fashioned pen and paper journal whereby you can take note of these things along your journey to training for the 100 miler.

Step 2 … I think that’s enough for this post, next time we can discuss step 2 onwards.

Happy trail running, until next time!!!

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