Ultra runners trying to convince marathoners to become one love to say “You can do a 50k. It’s just five more miles.”
It’s so not! As I’ve discovered over the past couple of weeks, it’s a whole new world. The world of the ultra.
Marathon training for me has involved how long can I run without stopping. How far can I go before (and between) fueling. It was knowing my stomach (and pockets) had a four gel limit and planning accordingly.
And heat? I don’t run well in heat. So why would I attempt to train for and run my longest distance ever in such hideous conditions. Am I crazy?
Actually – this may be one of the smartest things I’ve ever done.
Because training for a 50k (or maybe 35 miles – still don’t know my goal distance yet. And might not until race day) is the complete opposite of marathon training.
Ultra training involves aid stations (not water stops) and going slower and having not a time goal but a distance goal.
For my chosen ultra, there will be water and sports drink every 1 1/2 miles and fuel every 3. And I will have my crew set up at that three mile point with a cooler and ice and snacks and anything I could possible need (like coke. And gluten free granola bars. And ice. Lots of ice. Did I mention ice?)
The one I chose also gives me a full 12 hours to go 50k+.
In theory – I should only need 6 of them for a 50k. But having that 6 hour cushion is like a security blanket (a soft, cozy security blanket). It means I can go as slow as I need to. And walk if I need to. And rest / cool down if I need to. Which, considering this will be on July 25th is genius, right?
So I’m training accordingly. I’m training in loops. And I’m taking water and fuel breaks. I’m teaching myself to run slower and easy (no panting, no pushing, no kick) on my long run.
And Sunday – in 75 degrees with easily 90% humidity (which had to reach 100% cuz it did finally sprinkle – causing me to think ‘scuse me while I kiss the sky. Lol) – I knocked out 16 miles. Much better than I would have expected to in those weather conditions. Yes, it took longer than normal. But that’s totally okay.
I ran my usual 4.5 mile loop with some extra to make it 5 miles between stops for some Heed (trial run with it – and it soooo helped more than water) and stopped at miles 8 & 12 for some Gu chomps. (And I may have stopped to wait for this one sprinkler to come back around at mile 12.5 – which was a little slice of heaven.)
Electrolytes are so my friend. Because despite sweating more than I ever have in my entire life, I didn’t bonk and I didn’t cramp. Yay!!! (It’s the little things).
I do know that I could have used the Heed more often than five miles and I should have taken chomps starting earlier (or maybe 3 miles apart instead of 4). But I have several more, and longer, long runs to test things out on.
And for once, I’m actually looking forward to summer training. Because I think this ultra world is made for it. 🙂
(Oh and pineapple coconut water freeze pops rule for recovery.)
Happy Monday and Happy Running!