Change is inevitable. It’s one of things in life that we often run away from, but eventually we have to turn around (maybe exhausted), and with hands up in the air just admit it: ‘OK Change, You Win!’ But what if change from one stage in life to the next could be a smooth transition? Wouldn’t that be fantastic! However, if there was a magic remedy that made change easy, I think we’d all be laughing. It’s so easy to follow the familiar path, take the well known route, but those times come around when we know, deep down, that change is upon us. How to make it pain free is something I’ve been thinking about recently, and am working on right now.
The major change I’m talking about is related to running – you guessed it. After years of reading about the infamous, almost sacred HURT 100 mile ultra trail race on Oahu, I decided this would be the year I’d enter the lottery – and low and behold, I now find myself facing the longest distance I will have ever traversed, on 18th January 2014. And now the task of changing from marathon runner to an ultra trail runner is well under way. But it’s not as easy as simply typing out the phrase.
To help with the transition, as any good student would, I started doing some background research – instead of suddenly logging thousands of trail miles (which might have also been a good idea…)! Blogs, websites, podcasts, books, magazines – I soaked up as much as I could from all of them! And when I talk about ‘ultra running’, for this post let it be defined as any running event over the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles/ 42 kilometres.
I also talked to people who have made this change before, and to summarise the excellent advice that was so very kindly shared, I’ll attempt to summarise it below:
1. @runemz A talented runner who has gracefully, and successfully made the switch from marathons to 100m+ events.
– Hydration. Difficult to perfect, but essential. Hard to play catch up once you’re dehydrated.
– Proper recovery in training. Take care with eating habits because they play a role in recovery. Also use a foam roller & electric stimulator.
– Race specific training is important. Research the course of the event. Simulate the conditions you expect to experience.
– Be prepared. And be flexible. Expect things to change over the duration of such a long event.
3. @irunfar A great resource on all areas of ultra running – road & trail.
– Publisher of the book “Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons”. A source of advice, training plans, essays from elite ultra runners – full of ‘things not do to’ and ‘things you must do’.
– On race day, eat early and often. Ultra running has a very different effect on the metabolism. Eat something small every 30mins.
– Practice self-reliance. Realise that you might not see any other person for long periods of time. Practice being alone with your thoughts.
– Encourage others. Share words of encouragement with fellow runners. Thank all the volunteers. And remember, a smile goes a long way.
So – in an attempt to take this advice onboard I have been hitting the trails on a regular basis, and practicing what I’ve been told are going to be the hardest sections of the HURT100: the downhills, the night running, and the roots + rocks combination. I’ve been doing squats, core work, speed hiking rocky trails, cycling, swimming, yoga… But I still have a long way to go, and the clock is ticking.
In an attempt to mix things up even more, I ran in the Xterra Trail World Championships last weekend in Ka’a’awa Valley. The race is a great chance to run in the most beautiful valley, and an event I always enjoy. And luckily, the organisers also hosted a free ‘yoga-for-runners’ session at the event’s packet pick-up in Waikiki, which I guided. We had a fun group, and with my friend, trail-runner & yogi Lauren Seaman to demo, it was a great chance to connect with a group of trail runners. Moving on to race day itself, and the 21k. The race this year was no exception to the usual, challenging course, with only a couple of new sections, but my legs would probably disagree. I think after all the speed-hiking, and the ‘more haste, less speed’ approach I’ve been trying to apply, the change of pace was a shock to the system. But it was a gorgeous day, and there were lots of incredible performances all round. Polina Babkina, a local Oahu runner won the 21k women’s title, and another local runner, Jill Thompson successfully completed her first ever trail race finishing 7th woman. I finished 12th woman overall after an eventful last 5km when I fell, had a momentary panic that I’d damaged my knee and might not be able to do the HURT100, hobbled for a few steps, and then realised I was actually ok and carried on back down the trail to the finish – feeling like a bit of an idiot! Full results are online HERE.
This weekend I’m going to Maui with a bunch of ultra runners, and can hardly wait! Watch this space for a report on the Haleakala trails. It will be a change to previous running ‘training camps’ I’ve been on, but one that I’m ready to embrace! It’s going to be a blast spending time with HURT runners, and if I garner a few pieces of extra advice, and log a few more miles in the vein of ‘more haste, less speed’, then I know at least January will be slightly less painful – but maybe that’s inevitable.
And finally, check out the last days of the #RunGiving ‘challenge’ on the Oiselle Blog! Post a quick tweet about what you are thankful for…
Happy Thanks Giving and Happy Trails.
ps. If you need a break from holiday festivities and can spare 11minutes, you might enjoy this new video, worth a watch: The Runners.