Training for an Ultra – Some Thoughts from the Trail

I haven’t had so much time lately for getting out there … I’ve been super busy with work & glued to the computer … but I AM training for a couple of 50-mile runs later in the fall. And, having now done quite a few longer runs, I do have a few thoughts about what works and what doesn’t that I thought I’d share. So here goes!

Oh, wait, before I start… I have to ask the regular question (as usual)… How is this like starting a Made in the USA apparel brand? Well, I can think of several ways! First, it’s a journey. Second, you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter what. You just gotta keep moving.

Caveat emptor:  I would like to state for the record that if you are looking for tips on winning or being super fast, ya might want to look elsewhere. I get the job done, but am slow as f. Also, I ain’t no doctor or exercise professional. I’m an online seller of pants & a lawyer. But I have put in a lot of miles!

With that out of the way (!), let’s get into some of what works and what doesn’t, starting with training.

Training. Volume is key. You have to put in the miles. I read somewhere that if you can run 25 or 30 miles, you can probably run 50 – and I think that’s true … but to get to the point of being able to run 30, you probably do have to do some work. In terms of how much you should be doing a week, YMMV. For me, going something like 10 miles a day during the week (with some running and some walking) … with longer days on the weekend … has been pretty effective.  

Leading up to a race or event, I think having at least one or two runs a week longer than 10-15 miles is a good idea.

Days off are key. If you are doing 15 or 20 miles, you may well be a little worked the next day. So listen to your body and take the down time!

Diet. Plenty of protein. I like to have a whey protein shake after a hard workout, plus I’ve read that tart cherry juice is good to have after a hard workout as well. Who knows?! I drink it, though.

If you’re training for an event or something at higher elevation, you might look into beet juice, horseradish, and raw onions and garlic … all of which are reputed to help you acclimatize. As far as I can tell, the actual evidence for this is spotty … but I’ve done it and I don’t think it hurts. It WILL do some crazy sh!t to your insides, that I will say.

If you’re looking to get ripped, by the way, diet is the only way to make it work – esp. if you have a few years on you. It’s a bummer, dude.

Bottom line, a balanced diet is best.

Pre-run Taper. I think it makes sense to slow it down couple days or maybe a week in advance of a big run, whether it’s a race you’re doing or just a longer run on your own. Having fresh legs when you hit the trail for the event or the day makes a huge difference. I’ve also noticed that I’m super slow on the couple of days after I have a big day, so rest again is really critical.

The Big Day. Like I said before, you just gotta keep moving. That’s been my experience in skiing, running, and biking events. The way to get to the end it’s just to keep moving, and never stop. It seems odd, because you think that when you go on 35 or 40 or 50 miles, that you’d want to stop and rest every once in a while. But it’s actually harder in my view to keep going once you stop.

OK these are some of my thoughts, nothing really scientific. If anybody has other thoughts please let me know, I’d love to hear from you. paul (at) See you out there!