ENDURANCE AND COMFORT ZONE FOR ULTRA TRAILS TRAINING
If you want to run endurance races you must be ready to exit your comfort zones!
The Ultra Trail races over 100km races push the athlete’s body to the extreme: unnatural biorhythms, sleep deprivation and modified daily nutritional scheme. There is a moment, during these races, in which a profound crisis arrives, even for the most trained. In the state of extreme discomfort, the most immediate thought you will have would be to withdraw, forgetting all the sacrifices made in the previous months of training and the money spent for your Ultra Trail.
The “excuse” that many trail runners find is that, after all, they are not professional athletes so they can let it go. This decision is induced by the mind that tries to push you back into a “Comfort” situation. After few hours, lying in your bed, often you realize that it was a bad choice and that, gritting your teeth for a few more hours or tens of kilometers, you could have reached the finish line …. But unfortunately, it is too late!
How can you try to keep concentration and maintain your capacity for rational choice? Here are some tips from the experts that will help you to manage your Ultra Trail races above 100km:
- BUILDING ENDURANCE REQUIRES TIME. When there are only 2 months left to your Ultra Trail you should already be at an advanced level of training, focused on building endurance. You will have already completed 1 or 2 races over 100km and at least 2-3 multi-day long run sessions. If this is not the case and you still have many problems managing these distances, it will be a good idea to consider postponing your goal to the following year because, unfortunately, it will be difficult for you to finish the race.
- NUTRITION MUST BE TESTED. The nutritional problems during an Ultra Trail are often due to an absent or incorrect strategy and to the lack of nutritional tests while training or in intermediate races. Nutrition in races like the Tor, the Adamello or the Ultra of Mont Blanc must be adequately studied because it will have to sustain your body during an extreme effort. Not sure if you have to eat more carbohydrates or proteins, solid or liquid, or how to manage hydration? Stop for a moment and dedicate the right time to think about your previous experiences, which products you used and what kind of macro and micronutrients they contained and what you ate at the aid stations. Avoid repeating mistakes and finding yourself without energy, with cramps and muscle problems that will force you to withdraw.
- YOU MUST PREPARE YOURSELF TO EXCEED DIFFICULTIES. In the most difficult ultra trails, it is easy to experience some adverse conditions such as a weather change; the onset of intense physical pain or sleep deprivation with hallucinations. These three conditions in 80% of cases can be overcome if you have already experienced them several times with less intensity and you have convinced your mind that they are not so “dramatic”. In the case of adverse weather conditions, you will need to be able to understand the extent of the storm or snowstorm, carry with you tested technical clothing. If necessary, you will also be able to decide if it is useful to find an adequate shelter for a short period and you will have studied the track, type of terrain and distances. Pain must be recognized and analyzed. Many problems that arise during an ultra trail, muscular, stomach or physical such as blistering can be solved. Have you already prepared your emergency kit and a protocol? If not, it is time to think about it and look for information about how to manage these situations before finding yourself facing them for the first time! Finally, sleep should be trained, simulated in training and managed. At this point, you need to know your sleep cycle and when and how much you should sleep.
- EXIT FROM ALL AREAS OF COMFORT. When you are training for an Ultra you have to get out of all your usual comfort zones. Here are a few examples: train in places you don’t know, get out in the middle of the night and climp up the mountain, go back to sleep and go out again after 2 hours; train when it rains hard; sleep on the floor in your living room, etc. If you don’t train in different situations you won’t have the ability to react quickly, especially when you find yourself in a state of extreme fatigue …. And the mind will have the upper hand!
What is written here is only a small part of what you need to face some races, but everything will contribute to make you a FINISHER!
WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE AN EXPERT SUPPORT FOR YOUR PREPARATION…. Look at our FULL IMMERSION programs, the TRM Endurance Camps, here is the link TRM CAMP MONT BLANC
Digital Strategic Marketing Director – certified Innovation Manager – in multinational companies, she is still today the only Italian female athlete to have ran 900 km and 55,000m D+ in the mountains in a single stage race (Transpyrenea 2016, 3rd women overall). She counts numerous Podiums and international Victories on races over 100k. She holds a SNaQ CONI certification as a Trail Running Coach, Athletic Trainer and in Nutrition and Sports Supplementation. Since 2014 she is President and sports executive of innovative technology startups and companies, including Trail Running Movement and Digital Sport 360. She trains elite trail running athletes and she teaches in trail running coach certification courses. She is an author of sports articles on training, nutrition and supplementation in trail running and running, both in Italian and in English and Spanish. She manages relationships and collaborations with Federations and Race Organizers.