This post goes out to my friend Elise, who I just recently runabled into signing up for her first 50k. Congratulations! Welcome to one of your best bad decisions!
Ultras are awesome. They are also terrible. You’ll hurt. You’ll end up in some pretty dark places, mentally. But you’ll also be completely exhilarated, see beautiful landscapes, and feel like a total badass. Also, finish line beer is the best beer you’ll ever have. You’re going to totally hate it and me sometime around mile 18 on race day, but you’re also going to love it (and by extension, me)!
Things you should know/do/get when getting into ultras:
Running packs aren’t cheap, but they’re worth every penny for the miles and hours you’ll spend out on the trail. Get one you love and that fits well, because you’re going to spend a LOT of time together. I particularly love the Ultimate Direction Jenny Ultra Vesta (more lightweight) and Wink (my go-to pack of choice). The Jenny Adventure Vesta is also great. Those are the go-to ones for tons of the female ultrarunners around here, and they don’t disappoint.
Put together a small trail med kit with bandaids and blister stuff. Keep it in your pack at all times.
Do the same for a bio bag. “What’s a bio bag?” you ask. Why, it’s a little sandwich baggie covered in duct tape (so you can’t see into it) for you to pack out any used tp, etc. for when nature inevitably calls on the trail. Trailrunners are big supporters of Leave No Trace.
If you haven’t already, get fitted for a pair of trail shoes at your local running store. Trail shoes have stiffer soles and more aggressive treads than road shoes, which makes a big difference with how you’ll feel after those long miles.
Don’t expect to run everything. Ultrarunners power hike a lot. Embrace power hiking and do a lot of fast hiking with a lot of gain to increase your speed while still walking. If you try to run up every uphill, you’re going to burn out pretty early in the day and have nothing left for later when you really need it.
For good ultrarunning inspiration check out Ginger Runner and Billy Yang on YouTube. They are two of my favorites for great ultrarunning films. Some of the ones I watch regularly when I’m on the treadmill:
- Life In A Day (Billy Yang) – Documentary about some incredible female ultrarunners competing at Western States
- Amongst The Evergreens (Ginger Runner) – The story of Ethan’s (Ginger Runner) own experience with his first 100 mile ultra, the Cascade Crest 100
- Run My Race (Bryce Boron) – 2 hour documentary about Bob Fargo, a typical ultrarunner (i.e. NOT an elite racer) as he finally realizes his dream of racing the Hardrock 100 miler
- The Unknown (Billy Yang) – Coverage of Tim Olsen’s comeback 2016 Hardrock 100 race
- Wonderland (Ginger Runner) – The story of Gary Robbins’ FKT (fastest known time) attempt circumnavigating Mt. Rainier (93 miles)
- Altering Expectations (Ginger Runner) – The story of Kim’s (his wife and a badass trailrunner in her own right) first 50k
- The Squamish 50/50 (Ginger Runner) – Ethan’s attempt at the 50 mile/50k back to back races
- A Decade On (Ginger Runner) – The story of Brian Morrison’s redemption at Western States
- Western Time (Billy Yang) – Sally McRae’s story of the Western States 100
- My Fourth Hardrock 100 Run (Run Steep Get High) – Jamil’s story of his 4th Hardrock 100. I particularly enjoyed when he got caught in the hailstorm.
- Mont Blanc (Billy Yang) – Coverage of the Nike Trail Running team at the CCC UTMB
That’s probably good for starters. 🙂 More to come!