Over the past several months watching the world of ultra and trail running from the side-lines, has offered a unique insight into this trail / ultra scene. Powered by social media hype and exponential growth of the sport I see common trends and mistakes that many newbies/ and road runner converts make in this sport.
Building an endurance base is the most important thing for an ultra-runner. Running at an aerobic pace develops a runners aerobic system by enhancing fat burning systems and expanding the vascular system in the body. Aerobic training is much lower impact and hardens the runner’s joints and tendons all while reducing the risk of overuse injury. The main problem however is that many people do not do this for a long enough period, or when they think they are doing base they are actually in the gray zone where they actually are running slow at pretty high heart rate. I get it … base building the proper way is really boring, you are running slow, for a long time… It would be great to hit the easy button. But hey if you have no patience to run slow and build a legit base – ie run slow for like 6 months – you are potentially setting yourself up for a pretty solid injury down the line. Building a base is an investment it will help make you a better and faster runner in the future, not doing so is very shortsighted and will bite you in the ass.
PROGRESS UP THE DISTANCES TOO QUICKLY
I get it, you run your first marathon or even a couple, then you are like what if I ran a 50k – an ultra – that just sounds so cool, its addictive, I’ve been there and then next thing you know you are running your first 50 miler. Running for 10 / 8 / 12 hrs although is an adventure it breaks your body down. Going up the distances too quickly also hightens your risk of a huge set back. I ask you this – what’s the rush? What if you did your first 50miler next year. I promise you those races will still be around.
Races are awesome, how could you not get stoked and hyped for cool races? The current running scene encourages signing up for races all year round. In turn many people don’t have a proper off season, and do not let their bodies rebuild after the races. Out here on the west coast people seem to be running and racing year round.
NOT LISTENING TO YOUR BODY.
Doing 20 milers every weekend is pretty awesome, I love it. SFRC runs every weekend are also rad, Strava pushes us to stay competitive with our buddies. If you do that non-stop you will inevitably start getting beat up, tired, and burnt out. Layer this on top of a real job and real world stresses is a recipe for disaster. Please do take days off, sleep in sometimes, cut some runs short your body will thank you for it. When your body gives you signs that it needs to recover listen to it because if you don’t your injury will manifest in the form of adrenal fatigue, PF, Achilles Tendinitis (my personal fave) etc. etc.
Do what brings you joy peeps.