At some point in an ultra many of us cross the line from racing to surviving. We go from feeling confident about finishing well, feeling in control of our legs, able to run sections we think are runnable, meeting our target time, running a PB, to being resigned to just finishing, wanting it to be over, wishing the finish line would come a lot sooner so the pain can be over.
The cross over point is usually around 60-75% of race distance. In a race like Ultra Trail Australia 100 it’s the leg from the Aquatic Centre to Queen Vic Hospital, the 54-78km mark. At UTMB it’s usually just before or after Champex at the 120k mark. It’s the point mentally where there still seems a long way to go but you have already come so far that your the legs and mind can feel very fatigued.
Fortunately the ability to race the whole distance is not confined to the elites. Racing the entire distance is relative to one’s ability so anyone can race the whole distance. All it takes is a good training plan and good race execution. There are two main areas to focus on in both training and racing to improve your ability to race the distance – physical and mental. Physically it comes down to a number of things. Training being the most important. Without proper training it’s not a matter of if you’ll go into survival mode but when.