I am officially in taper for the North Face Endurance Challenge 50k on September 16th. 15 days away. WHAT. I will not panic, I will not panic, I will not panic! This was my second training cycle for an ultra marathon, my first one being earlier this year when I trained for Ice Age 50 mile. Here is what I’ve learned this training cycle.
1. Back-to-back long runs are harder in the summer
Historically, I finish my runs dehydrated because I don’t drink much while I’m running. It was fine in the winter, but when you add in the energy-sapping heat and humidity of the summer I was toast. I had a much harder time this summer on my longer trail runs because I couldn’t keep up with hydration.
This training cycle, I learned that if I don’t pay attention to drinking then I won’t do it. My solution? I set an alarm on my Garmin watch to ring every 30 minutes to remind me to drink.
2. I really like running on the treadmill
My first training cycle for an ultra and I just wanted to finish. I focused on the distance and got very comfortable with back-to-back long runs. This training cycle, I focused on elevation. By the end of Earth Day 50k and Ice Age, my legs were jello because I hadn’t practiced enough climbing.
My solution? The treadmill! It’s amazing how much climbing you can do in a short amount of time. Instead of running up and down Cricket Hill and netting an elevation of around 600 feet in 10 miles (amazing for Chicago), I turned to the treadmill and would do upwards of 1200ft in 7 miles.
I discovered that I really liked running on the treadmill when I would play around with the inclines. It broke up the run into little mini manageable chunks, and I felt more confident in my preparation for race day.
3. I like lemon flavored things
Last training cycle, I experimented with real food to fuel my runs. I created sweet potato cookies, blueberry turmeric muffins and cherry energy bites. This training cycle I wanted to broaden my food options and experimented with other recipes.
I discovered Lemon Coconut Energy Bites and fell in love. I now eat them even when I am not running! Which, has gotten me into trouble when I realize at 8pm on a Friday night as I’m getting ready for the trails that I have eaten through my entire supply. After making the recipe I also went on a lemon kick, adding lemon to my water, smoothies, smoothie bowls, even cashew cheese! It was so refreshing for summer.
4. Training for an ultra marathon can be lonely
This was something completely new to me this training cycle. When I trained for Ice Age, I knew at least 5 other people from EDGE running it. We would go on trail runs together a lot in the winter. There was a large group from EDGE who would always meet at the trails on Sunday to run.
But this training cycle, it seemed like I was the only one out there. Of the 8 weekend days a month, I ran with someone maybe on one or two of those days. I think summer travel plans and marathon training groups led to the absence, but there were quite a few times where it was lonely. My solution? Next time I do an ultra, I am signing up with someone else. Any takers???
5. No matter how many times I run on the trails, they always look different
The trails change daily. When the leaves began to fill in, it was like running in a whole new place. After summer storms, the trails would change as well, with fallen trees calling for detours. I loved seeing the changes and it kept the scenery fresh.
What I love about running is that each training cycle is a new learning experience. I am discovering new workouts, new routes, new techniques, and new things about myself with each run. I view every workout as an opportunity to grow. What have you learned in your training cycles, whether current or past? What do you think of my training cycle takeaways? Comment with your thoughts below!
Can you believe it September already? School starts again on Tuesday! Only 9 more days until my birthday! Only 15 more days until my race! And only 23 more days until my first athlete is runs their marathon! This is going to be a busy month! What are your goals, plans, big events for the month of September?