Trail running will always take me out of my comfort zone, because as soon as it gets comfy there is a new challenge waiting. It constantly reminds me that I have so much to learn…
So far I have been training by running, focusing on building distance and getting some kilometers in. I also have been focused on maintaining an injury free status, and apart from some minor pains I’ve managed this. However, as the race approaches I am starting to think through the questions I have avoided up until this point like: do I need to do hill or speed training, do I need to run in the low heart rate zone and slow down, what should I eat before/during/after? Other things have popped up too like how do I actually avoid blisters, what socks and shoes work best for me, and what running pack do I want (should I switch from the Gregory to the Salomon?
Running with two people I consider quite knowledgeable in the area allowed me to do some digging on these topics and I feel like I started to build some answers:
1. I need to slow down and run for time more so than distance. I have started watching my Heart rate and how quickly my body jumps into higher zones (into anaerobic and out of aerobic and fat burning zones). I am going to adjust my training to work on this because everything I have read about it makes sense to me: that fat stores in the body are a much more abundant source of energy in the body and can be utilized better over long periods of time like in an ultra.
2. I often track my distance or time but have not tracked elevation or climbing, and I think this is the next thing I am adding to my list of training requirements. Making sure that my runs are not only long enough but also include the climbs (and flat stuff) throughout the week. ..and from lesson 1, focusing on Time On Feet not distance as much.
3. For food and hydration, I don’t know how I haven’t figured this out yet but adding electrolytes in my water pack, wow! World changing. I no longer want to chug two Gatorades as soon as I get back to my car. This is a great change. For food, I am still playing with it and testing out what works best before, during, and after. I have most recently just been having honey stinger gels or a cliff bar, depending on my time out on the trail, so this is a work in progess and probably will be for a long time!
Other fun things have come up, like blister management, but I won’t go into any detail there. This list will grow but I am learning a lot and will continue to pick the brains of people who have much more experience with long distances than I do!