How I Became an Ultrarunner

Ways to Hurdle Obstacles During Training

There will always be bumps in the road and life circumstances that can affect our training. Here are some things to remember:

  • Focus on the long term: Weigh the benefits of each run, and if you can't complete every run on your training plan, make sure you complete the ones that will prepare you for your race (i.e., long run vs. a short, easy run)
  • Be flexible: If life forces you to miss a run, you get sick, or sense an injury, adjust and know that it's OK to do so 
  • Listen to your body: Ensure your training is helping you grow stronger rather than leading you to feel overtrained or burned out 

More: 5 Signs of Overtraining

How to Prepare for Race Day

Tapering is hard. At the end of a tough training cycle, I always feel like I am aching for the taper. Then the taper arrives and, with my mileage greatly reduced, suddenly all I want to do is run. But instead, I am left to think anxiously about running. I wonder whether I am truly ready and whether I was crazy the day I signed up for this race. For me, it is important that I keep myself busy in other ways during the taper without wearing myself out unnecessarily. Here are some suggestions: 

  • Spend time with friends
  • Cheer at local races
  • Focus on hydrating, fueling, resting, and taking care of your body
  • Look for inspiration that will help calm nerves, build excitement and encourage confidence going into race day (i.e., favorite running book, quotes, etc.)
  • Look over your training log to remind yourself of how far you have come! 

More: Michael Wardian's Ultrarunning Training and Racing Tips

Race Day

I remember approaching the start line and everything still feeling surreal. It seemed crazy to think, "Today I run 50 miles." As the race started, I quickly realized the world of ultrarunning is very unique. I never felt alone and, in fact, felt lost among the trees with a whole group of new friends. Whether you were a first-timer or a veteran, all were welcome that day. 

It was easy to get caught up in the race atmosphere, but it was vital to stick as closely as possible to my race plan:

  • Eat at least 100 calories every 30 minutes 
  • Drink 2 to 5 oz of GU Brew (tablets dissolved in water) every 15 minutes
  • Salt pill every 60 to 90 minutes 
  • Walk each significant incline, and run flats and declines 
  • During flat portions of the race or those where the incline/decline was more gradual, adhere to my run 15 minutes/walk 1 minute ratio 

I made it to mile 30 before I felt run down physically. I realized for the first time that my ankles and quads were sore from the trail terrain, and that 20 miles is still a long way to run. I was lucky to have an amazing pacer who kept me moving and reminded me that any movement forward is progress toward the finish. 

At mile 35, I met my brother and he paced me the final 15 miles. The miles I shared with him were magical, and I was grateful he had been willing to run by my side during the late miles of the race. As I ran the steps of the final mile, I was overcome with emotion as I recalled my entire training journey and the 49 miles behind me. Running through the finish, I raised my arms in jubilation and celebration of how far I had come as a runner and an individual. 

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