I am training myself to run two 100 km races this year and UTMB next year i.e in 2018. That means I will need to train a lot and be consistent.
To put the matter into perspective, I would like to bring out at the outset that I am not a pro-athlete who gets paid to run. I am a normal next door Sameer, Vikas or Sam, who leaves the house in the morning for work and has a family and other commitments. I mean I am busy like everyone else and I take out time to train.
Read : Life Is So Difficult
Now, anybody can train and run an ultramarathon. Really, anybody can do it! But if the environment around is not conducive to train, one will probably toe the start line, broken – mentally, physically or with a broken up family or one may never toe it ever.
Initially, there were a lot of rifts in my family with everyone trying to have a piece of me, while I was constantly trying to get away from everyone to train. The result was that I was anxious during long runs, my recovery was not adequate and I was feeling guilty about picking up this sport. In short, I was not mentally motivated to train. And that was just one aspect of the turbulence!
What was the solution? I looked for answers here and there. I read books, I listened to podcasts, I spoke to fellow runners for encouragement. And over the span of many years, I seemed to have arrived at a sweet spot where I don’t feel guilty of going on a run, while neglecting my family. Or having to fear about adequate recovery.
The answer was that as ultra runners, we have to construct a conducive life around the training. It is the part of the ULTRA LIFE! I identified some key areas where we can work upon to achieve the best out of the training.
1. Speak Up
In the top floor of yours aka the brain, you are cooking up an adventure for yourself. You are imagining yourself running in the midst of a lush green forest atop high mountains and puking once in a while on the side of the trail!
But the time period leading up to the race is dreadful. Mainly because your family doesn’t approve your being away from them on daily basis. And when you are with them, you are tired and unwilling to participate in family affairs.
Have a sit down with the family and convey your adventure plans and offer them a BRIBE! Have something up your sleeve to tempt them into agreeing. It maybe an exotic vacation or an expensive gift. Remember they are sacrificing their comfort by letting you have fun everyday.
However, even when you bribe them with mouth watering offer, conserve your energy to be useful to them even after your training. You may have to adjust your training a bit. For eg, instead of running 70-80 miles a week, try doing 40-50 miles per week. You will be surprised that you will still rock in the race. Constantly improvise and don’t follow the training plan to the ‘T’, otherwise you will keep freaking out on not meeting the laid down numbers.
If you follow Rich Roll’s podcast, then you must have heard his Coach saying that fitness is not what you do on one day, but on next day and next day and next day. That means the recovery to train at a consistent level needs to be a priority. One of the best ways to recover is to watch what we put inside our body.
If you have been following my journey of training for this year’s 100 km race on this blog and on my YouTube Channel, then you may know that I have turned vegan to lose weight and improve my recovery. In short, to improve my performance.
Watch : I Have An Announcement To Make
If we put unprocessed and whole foods in our body, it responds positively by bouncing back effectively every day. That means that the down time is minimum and we can train at a consistent level, thus improving our physical ability to train.
Since the time I have turned vegan, I have felt a great difference in terms of recovery. I am recovering fast for a guy of the age of 34. I used to suffer from bouts of allergy every week during my training. But now it seems like a thing of past(knocks on the wood)!
Think before what you eat and analyse what is it going to do for you. Have a cheat day but be disciplined on the rest of the days. Remember the goal is to train efficiently and without throwing life out of gear. MODERATION!
Science says 6-8 hours of sleep is essential for optimal human performance. And for ultrarunners, who perform insane feats on day to day basis? I will say sleep as much as you can.
Michael Arnstein aka The Fruitarian said once that if he could sleep 10 hours a day, then he can run a 50 miles everyday.
I have a lot of sleep issues. I mean there used to be a lot of disagreements on this with my spouse. Let me explain.
I am an early bird and she is a night owl(that’s why she even got a tattoo of an owl on her back!). So, technically we live in different time zones. At 9.30 or 10 PM, when I am in a zombie state and looking towards the bed, she is at her energetic best. Hence, CONFLICTS!
Over a period of many years now, we have come to an agreement wherein I stay up or try to stay up on weekends(I would have done my long run). However, the terms keep changing, so it’s a balancing act. You know how a woman love the company of the husband when he wants to sleep badly!
Read ‘SPEAK UP’ again. I spoke to my wife and told her my goals and ambitions. She seemed to have understood while putting forth her conditions. I accepted them with a pinch of salt.
Well, now I can go to sleep at 10 PM without guilt and wake up at 3 or 4 AM. I then send her to sleep.
Make sleep a priority.
4. Stay active
Staying active is super important for success in ultrarunning. By the way success is relative. For me it’s finishing strong and for others maybe something else. So, success means differently for different people.
Being active throughout the day helps in endurance and as well as recovery. The famous ultrarunner celebrity, Dean Karnazes, is said to not sit throughout the day. He also keeps taking burpee or push ups or pull ups break during the whole day.
I, generally, try not to sit too much at work. I will take walk breaks or do a set of squats here and there. I go for walks in the evening and found them to help in my recovery and is very addictive. I will, though, be starting to do evening runs as well from next month onwards.
Life is like a garden. Ultrarunning is a path, bang in the middle of it. We love the path and if the garden is full of colourful flowers and carefully trimmed grass, then the walk on the path becomes much more enjoyable.
The 4 issues highlighted above are the flowers and grass. We have to nurture them to enjoy our walk on the path.
Hope the article made sense!
Till then, stay fit and keep running.
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How have you constructed or designed your life to support your running?