... ... ultrarunning - Mile27
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?

Continue reading »

May 012015
 
Some of the terrain on the Big Red Run (photo courtesy Greg Donovan)

Tackling the dunes (photo courtesy Greg Donovan)

The Big Red Run is the next race on my race calendar so I thought I would share how I plan to go about training for this multi stage desert race. It is a similar format to most of the multi stage desert races around the world, with 4 shorter days of 30-42km, and then a long day of 84km.

Whenever I look at designing a training plan for a race, I analyse what factors are most important for that race, and each individual and plan accordingly.

For a multi day race there are a few key factors training should be focussed around:
1. Improving running economy
2. Decreasing risk of injury
3. Ability to run long several days in a row
4. Increasing endurance
5. Race specific training
6. Improving fat burning ability
7. Time on your feet

Let’s look at each of these in detail and see what they means in terms of training. Continue reading »

Nov 072014
 

Do you look out the window watching the rain pour down and start to dread your run?

Does looking out the window before a run and seeing this fill you with dread?

Does looking out the window before a run and seeing this fill you with dread?

Clients often ask me what to do if the weather is “bad” for a particular training session. I’m not exactly sure what “bad” weather is. If you are looking for a sport that’s only played in “good” weather then you should have taken up cricket!

Trail races are run in the heat, through snow, in freezing cold, pouring rain, gale forced winds, blast furnace heat and oppressive humidity. Performing well in these environments means you have to be comfortable in those environments. Continue reading »