Dec 042015
 

Is setting a goal time and then working out splits to achieve along the way the best way to approach a race? Is time the best means of measuring your success?

UTMB race plan - I was over an hour down at half way !

UTMB race plan – I was over an hour down at half way

A goal can be defined as “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result”. Is the finishing time really the object of your ambition or desired result?

If we set a time goal and for the sake of putting it in context lets say a goal of breaking 14 hours for a 100km trail race; are there conditions where not achieving this goal could still result in a successful race ? Could you finish faster than 14 hours and be disappointed?

What if you had one of those races where everything went right , you felt great all day and nothing went wrong , you crossed the finish line 100% spent unable to go a second faster but the clock said 14.20 . Should you be disappointed you didn’t meet your goal time?

What about if you crossed the line in 13.30 but spent over 45 minutes at checkpoints , had a crook stomach for a third of the race, and crossed the line feeling like you could have gone much quicker . Is the fact you went sub 14 enough to give you that post race glow of a job well done?
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Oct 272015
 
Nutrition for a 100 miler

Salt – do we really need it ?

The ability to measure our sodium losses in sweat during exercise has led some to thinking that we need to replace at least some of what we lose in sweat to ensure our blood sodium levels don’t fall to levels that effect performance or health.

The thinking goes that somewhere between 230-1700mg of sodium can be lost per hour during exercise in hot conditions and we have a typical daily intake of 4g. As a consequence it can take only 2-3 hours before we deplete our sodium stores levels that effect performance. But measuring sweat sodium levels is only part of the picture – our body doesn’t particularly care what our sweat sodium concentration is (and in fact it reduces sweat sodium concentration as it acclimatises to exercising in the heat). What the body very tightly controls is our blood sodium levels and has several mechanisms to keep it within 135-145 mmol/litre range that is required for normal human function.

One thing to understand is its not the actual amount of sodium in our body that is the critical factor, its the concentration of sodium in our blood. If there is less blood then we need less sodium to keep the concentration in normal range.

Deciding we need sodium supplementation based solely on what we sweat out is like basing fat consumption based purely on how much fat we burn during exercise or basing our hydration strategy purely on how much weight we lose or our carb intake on how much energy we burn when we run. What we burn or sweat out doesn’t matter – its whats left in the body that we need to be concerned about. So when we look at fat burnt during exercise we know that we have ample supplies of fat so there is no need to take on additional fat, we know that our carb supplies will eventually run out so we need to take in additional carbs in a race but we know we don’t have to replace the whole amount we burn, we also know that the body can handle a certain level of dehydration with no adverse effects provided we drink to thirst. As far as sodium goes what we should be looking at is what happens to our blood sodium levels during exercise NOT how much sodium we lose in sweat.

Do we need to replace all of our sodium sweat losses, some of them or none of them?

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Sep 162015
 

Nutrition for a 100 miler

Nutrition for a 100 miler


One of the main reasons for a DNF in an ultra is nausea and vomiting (23% of DNFs at the 2009 WSER were for this reason). Even among those that finished, up to 40% of the Western States field experienced nausea and or vomiting that affected race performance. Stomach problems can sabotage all the hard training you have done so it’s critical you have a strategy that works for you going into a big race.

Nutrition is a complicated topic but I’d like to break it down to 4 main questions:

  1. How much should I eat?
  2. What should I eat?
  3. When should I eat?
  4. What to do if something goes wrong?

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Jun 262015
 
Looking for this much vert probably isnt going to help your training

Looking for this much vert probably isnt going to help your training

“It’s all about the vert” is a common catch phrase for those training for hilly ultras. But is doing lots of vertical all you need to do to perform well in an ultra with large amounts of ascent and descent?

With the popularity of training software like Strava it is easy to compare the amount of vert you do each week with others and get swept up in a more is better thought process.

But the whole idea that the more vert you do the better your performance is analogous to the idea that the more running you do the better your performance. Whilst high mileage is a factor most of us agree its what you do with those miles that count just as much if not more as the amount of miles.

So why is vert any different? Surely it is how you get that vert that will have more effect on your race performance than the total amount of vertical.

Is all vertical the same?

Does hiking uphill give you the same training response as running uphill ?

Does running uphill help with your hiking speed uphill?

Does running easy downhill load the legs the same as running fast downhill?

Does running down technical terrain load the legs as much as running down fire-trail?

Does running down fire-trail develop your technical descending skills as much as running technical descents ?

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Jun 062015
 
Scotty looking strong in the HK100

Scotty looking strong in the HK100

Mile 27 Coach Scotty Hawker had a break through performance at the recent TNF100. In this blog Scotty takes us back to the Hong Kong 100 where he finally gained the belief that he could compete with the best ultra-runners in the world. The lessons he learnt in this race can be used by all of us. Since the mind controls how much of our training and potential we can use in a race , learning to work with the mind can help us take that next step in performance, whether thats competing with the elites or simply mixing it up with a faster group than you normally run with. Take it away Scotty …

Goosebumps kick in, self doubt, nerves… am I really good enough to be here? Why on earth am I standing on the front line at the Hong Kong 100? As I look around I see faces I recognise from social media such as Jez Bragg, Dave Mackey, Antoine Guillon. These guys are on a whole different level; aren’t they?
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