After having completed the 26.5 miles and then 56 miles back to back days in my first week. I quickly learned that I have the aptitude and the heart to do the entire distance since I can will myself to do pretty much anything within reason--to me. On the other hand, while studying and reading a tremendous amount of information on how to train properly for an Ultra-marathon; I have learned that doing that much training back to back days is completely confounded and is not recommended at all. Since it usually takes a week or so of proper rest to regain the energy needed, amongst other things such as time it takes to heal, replenishing nutrients, etc. So that was my first mistake which was not repeated.
Following the purchase of a runners guide, I was able to hone in on target areas to work on to prepare for the daunting 100 mile run that was then less than a month away. First off, I would have to increase my training and the methods in which I trained exponentially. Usually I followed a circuit pertaining to a number of hours just running, followed by an hour of full body weight training and finished with an hour of swimming. Not always in that exact order but you get the gist.
Secondly, I know what you are thinking and yes, I was mindful of supplementation and nutritional guidelines. I packed all my food before I left for the gym in the morning and tailored the times I would eat a small meal, relative to the amount of miles I would have to run to reach the aid stations. My ultimate goal, run as far as I could at a solid, energy efficient pace and eat at the checkpoints. I also remained hydrated as well. The rest was simply putting in the hours of conditioning.
Once finishing with a few weeks of long drawn out days of running at the gym, I had managed to condition my legs pretty quickly while at the same time maintaining body mass-as I read that my primary source of energy should not be glycogen but mainly fat and a good amount of glucose that I will be constantly attempting to replenish while on the trail. I also factored that knowledge into my training as to implement it effectively during the actual race.
The next part became the real fun part. I now had to prepare myself to acclimate to the weather as most people are projected to finish the race within 20-32 hours. This means that there could be significant weather change within that time which will directly affect my performance. So, running outside at all times of day and night it was; Most of the time running the course I will transverse this weekend so while there I could scout the terrain and get a feel for the area.
Fatefully so of the areas were marked as private property, not that it stopped me from running them but did dissuade me from going the direct route, having to find alternative paths. Still being able to make it quite a long way, I eventually turned around when I realized I was in another city outside my own town—standing in a neighborhood, off a highway I had just run—that I had never known existed. Trying to find my way back, I went a separate route to get back on the mountain which was blocked by a large fence informing me that everything I had just run was in fact, also private property. So running along a rocky ditch trail it was—for a very long time until I reached a path I recognized. From then on out, I stayed on a 5 mile loop that resided on the same mountain, going up and down dropping in elevation and climbing again as I gradually watched the same scenic routes go by in my preparation. After awhile I was able to make it out onto other long marathon trails in my city, which for most were quite beautiful. While for others, turned out to be incomplete, unfinished, very crudely marked borderline deathtraps—I considered those to be better training motivators, as the fear of having my car stolen prompted me to run the trails faster.
Take a day off or so after doing those trails every other day and now I am here, two days away from the actual race. Do I feel prepared? --As much as I can be for such a short amount of time. Am I ready? I will myself to believe I am. In my mind fear settles in the spaces not marked by preparation. I can only do so much with my body but what I can do with my mind has limitless potential. I have studied the maps, the trails, the weather patterns (heavy rain and wind speeds ranging from 40-60mph), meal plans, purchased equipment (as well as field tested the equipment), have collected every bit of information I can about how to operate my body, manage my mind and above all, fuel my inner drive to overcome such gut wrenching obstacles.
As it is right now, I cannot prepare anymore, not for lack of trying but more so-due to lack of time. I have told myself nothing will hold me back, not even my own thoughts. The only thing that can hinder or stop me is injury and even then, I will go until my legs are incapable of moving. This is the creed I have set myself to and will bind myself by until I see myself to the finish—in victory.
I will let you know how it goes.
Insight: The first and most important thing is scheduling. You have to stick to your schedule 100% of the time and more importantly, do not let your friends have the option of deviating you from your intended goals. Your schedule pertains to training times, meal times, times to supplement, times to rest, times to stretch, times to study and research all possible opposition you will or may face. Everything else comes secondary to your goal. When it comes to your friends, they can eat out and drink all they want, they are not going to be competing in a competition that could send them to the hospital if they are not properly prepared. Mainly, follow your schedule, listen to yourself and tell your friends to hush their yappers, they can see you enjoying a burger and beer with them on a cheat day (if you have one) or after the competition is over.
Learn from yourself. The greatest teacher you have is yourself and your experience. It is good to learn from others and see what works for them but then you must take that and implement it into your own new and improved way of doing things, your ‘plans’ as they would say. You should critique techniques, methodologies, equipment, training and everything in-between to your liking; then after, test it to make sure it is the more efficient way—only then, do you have the option of doing it comfortably or the option of doing it efficiently. Everyone enjoys having options, albeit not everyone likes you having options—even yourself sometimes.
I always try to make an emphasis on this point. You need to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY! It will tell you everything you need to know! If it says I want ice-cream, you might not want to give it that specific food category but for good measure, get the ingredients that go into it in much healthier, manageable quantities and eat it. Your body maybe craving carbs so entertain it with a proportion size that fits your height and weight so that it can have the nutrients it is telling you it needs. Think of it as an extension of yourself. You must keep it well maintained in order for it to work properly, especially during preparation for a competition.
Devise new and creative methods of achieving tasks. Do you have a new idea that maybe no one has thought of? Good, you may have just found a competitive edge, use it. Share it if you must as most likely someone else may already be implementing something to benefit you as well, exchange ideas. Either way, your new method is not the norm and deviating from the norm can be a good thing—unless you are on a predetermined race course, in which case, you should stay on track. A hint I have for aiding your sore knees after miles of grueling running is to get some tippy cups (or in college terms, disposable shot glasses) fill them with water and freeze them. When they are frozen, rip off the top portion and start applying them to the sore and aching areas of your knee(s) for at least 20 minutes. You have no idea how much better they feel after doing that.
Do your homework! Research is good! Knowledge is power and power is control over your destiny! This one is pretty simple to explain. The more intellect you have on a matter, the more knowledge you have to draw from/towards it and the more experience you can correlate with that information, the faster you can be proactive to inferring exactly what you will be facing and how to overcome it. Remember that anything you have towards reaching your goal is one step closer to actually obtaining it. After that is gathered, you can pool your resources, make a plan of action and begin setting yourself to the task of completing it. Mostly everything set in theory is usually never the same as in practice. Even the most experienced champions within any given field of competition or even expertise can tell you this advice. You will usually have that ‘Z factor’ present. The thing you overlooked, miscalculated, underestimated, forgot, etc. It happens more than you think. BE AWARE OF IT and know you must be quick and decisive when this occurs. Remember that one part does not represent the whole. It may make the task less easy to complete but all the same, you will find a way around, over, under, or through any new obstacles that might place themselves in your way.
Have fun! That’s about it. Or in some cases, focus intensely and obstinately on your goal, force it into submission and then realize how much fun it was afterwards—whichever one comes first really. There is much more insight that I would very much like to provide to you but I have a feeling that most will not read this update due to the length that it is, simply taking a look at it and thinking to themselves it is too much to read and that they will find something shorter which may helpful to them. Though that may be the case and there might be other information more concise. This is still good for you, mainly because within reason this shows that you are already willing to put in some effort of time to obtain information that your competitors are unwilling to look into. You are willing to spend the hours needed to have a full grasp on a subject which you seek to master. I would say that trait of yours is the most important trait anyone serious about what they are planning to accomplish should have—the willingness to throw themselves into a cause 100% and seek resources out wherever they may be. Your desire to know is a good thing, use it! In conclusion, the improvement of self is a lifelong journey my friend. If you are constantly striving to be better than you were yesterday and stronger tomorrow than you are today; then you will always have a place in the hall of champions. You will not always succeed but you will be better off for making the attempt than anyone who decided to be an onlooker. All talk aside, spectators comment, chastise, envy, brag, critique, opinionate and boast while having nothing to show for it. Challengers suffer through all means to obtain an end and will always gain the most from it. You must be ever vigilant in your efforts and though you might sometimes fall to the wayside to take a rest, you must never ever forget to keep transcending to new heights unseen. Not because you have to but because you want to. In the end, you must reward yourself for the effort—no matter the final outcome. No matter what is said. You are a champion for making the attempt. If you do not succeed the first time, you are still a champion for showing an effort as many times as is necessary, no matter how long it takes you to complete your goal, and learn a lesson from it. Experience and wisdom are a strange couple, one is there to tell you how things really are so the other one can remind you how things have been and how they could be.
Again, I will keep you posted on the final outcome,
Bryant Scott 2011 Body-for-Life Champion