Training for ultra marathons is never easy. Not only does it take a lot of time, it take a lot of energy too. This is not me complaining, let me be clear. There is nothing more that I would love to dedicate my time, energy and passion to, yet there are some days when I’m falling asleep on the couch before I have time to finish my dinner.
Maybe this is the glorious reality of being an endurance athlete (I think it might be), or it’s the by product of many hard back-to-back days that I’ve been doing in my ultimate preparation for UTMB. Let me walk you through a bit of what I’m doing to prepare for this burly 100-mile foot race.
First, it starts with back-to-back training days. Lately, my coach has been prescribing some hard workouts (either on the track or in the mountains) followed by a long, mountain run the next day. The goal here is to build speed, and then practice running on tired legs. Ultra marathons aren’t just about going long and slow, you need some speed too, and this is something I’ve been incorporating this year.
The next thing is doing big volume. The easiest way for me to do this is by incorporating big, back to back days in the form of races. I’m not someone who can run huge mileage week after week, so I need to get a bit creative. My last race, or should I say races, were the San Juan Solstice 50 mile race, followed by the Bighorn gravel bike race the next day. Cycling is a great way to add in volume, safely, in my opinion, plus it’s something I really enjoy.
Now how did I tackle these back-to-back days mentally and physically. Mentally it’s a big task, since I need to be focused on the present day and not get ahead of myself. Otherwise, training can seem too daunting and overwhelming if I’m having a low moment in a workout one day, thinking about the long run the next day. So, keeping focused in the present moment forces me to stay present in what I’m doing.
Physically it’s another task to get recovered enough to do another quality day. Sleep and nutrition are huge factors in this, making sure I eat enough, and within a close enough window of me finishing my workout. I’ve also been using my calf GoSleeves after tough days, during travel days and even when I sleep. They seem to kick start my recovery and help me legs to feel fresh.
The next challenge I have before UTMB is the 2-day challenge at Speedgoat Mountain races. Where I will racing the 28km Friday and the 50km Saturday. I haven’t been to this race since 2015 and I’m really looking forward to the challenge. Good thing I have my recovery plan dialed so I’m ready to do these two, tough back to back days!