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Anyone here run Ultramarathons?
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By Peter Franzen
Administrator
From Phoenix, AZ
Feb 16, 2011
Belay
I just did my first-ever 50K this weekend. It wasn't an organized race, but I've wanted to run Portland's Wildwood Trail from end to end for a long time and I finally did it.

It was surprisingly doable, and it got me thinking about what it takes to run very long distances. I think that the "wall at mile #22" that so many marathon runners talk about is bullshit; it's all in your head, and if marathons were 30 miles long the wall would be at mile #27. I didn't set any speed records this weekend, but even after 30 miles it felt like I had more fuel in the tank if I had needed it.

I'm curious to know if anyone else here runs long distances, and what kind of training they do to keep it up. I'd love to do another 50K later this year, but I don't know that I want to dedicate the time to regular 15-20 mile runs every single week.

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By Olaf Mitchell
From Paia, Maui, Hi,
Feb 16, 2011
rockerwaves
Good on ya Mate !!

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By Chris Plesko
From Westminster, CO
Feb 16, 2011
OMG, I winz!!!
Peter Franzen wrote:
I think that the "wall at mile #22" that so many marathon runners talk about is bullshit; it's all in your head


You've unlocked the secret. Have fun!

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By AGParker
From San Angelo, TX
Feb 16, 2011
I have done a 50k. I started having cramps 15 miles into the race but there was no way in hell I wasn't going to finish after training for the race for 8 months. It really is just a mental thing. As long as you don't truly hit the wall and deplete your muscle/liver glycogen stores.

I would love to move into 50 milers, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. I used to hate running, but once I got into it, I realized it was really enjoyable. I found a great way to get away from life for awhile, especially with trail running.

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By 1Eric Rhicard
Feb 16, 2011
It is a good sized roof. Photo: Jimbo
I have a buddy who does 50 and 100 mile races. I used to run every day for years. The farthest I ever ran was 7 miles. I never got into the zone and only rarely did I not think THIS SUCKS.

I am impressed with you all.

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By DaveB
Feb 16, 2011
Vitruvian Man (da Vinci)
Peter Franzen wrote:
...I think that the "wall at mile #22" that so many marathon runners talk about is bullshit...

Hmm...pretty strong statement. What was your pace? Have you run a marathon in under 3 hours (6:50/mile average)?

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By Laura Pyle
From Evergreen, CO
Feb 16, 2011
North face, Longs Peak.
DaveB is right - it depends on your pace. I've been doing ultras since 2002, and at the beginning, I also thought a marathon was no big deal. In the last few years, I've been training to run faster, and now I realize how incredibly difficult it is to run 26.2 miles at a pace just a bit slower than a fast 5K. That said, I've had a lot of fun running (not racing) ultras, just to finish and for the experience, not for the time.

Training plans also depend on your pace and goals. If you just want to be able to finish a race without particularly strict cutoff times, you can get away with a less structured training plan. Maybe a long run every week or two. Hiking with a pack is also good training for trail ultras.

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By Brendan N. (grayhghost)
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Feb 16, 2011
My theory is that most casual marathoners don't take the in-race nutrition seriously enough and 20-22 miles is right when you fully deplete your glycogen stores from a big breakfast. Now that I eat every half hour while running my walls have shifted.

Ultras are a cool wasteland where talent starts breaking down and will takes over.

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By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From Los Alamos, NM
Feb 16, 2011
Climbing at the Belvedere crag near Nago with a gr...
Congrats on your 50k finish, Peter. It sounds like you have the right mentality for ultrarunning and that will take you further than you might think.
I've been running trail ultras for 6 years having never been much of a runner growing up but always interested in long days in the mountains...so ultras were very appealing to me. I enjoy 50 milers the most and typically run a 100 each year. Climbing and hiking are great cross-training for me.

Peter Franzen wrote:
I'd love to do another 50K later this year, but I don't know that I want to dedicate the time to regular 15-20 mile runs every single week.


If you want to run ultras fast and compete for the top 10 or 20 spots, the 15 to 20 to 30+ mile/week runs (on top of daily running) are pretty much a necessity. I don't compete or fancy myself a fast runner so this doesn't bother me. In peak summer running season I typically run about 30 to 40 miles per week. This is enough for me to finish 50 milers in respectable time and enough for me to grunt through a 100. It's definitely a personal thing, though, and takes time to figure out how much training you need. Keep up the running!

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By rangerdrew
From Loveland
Feb 16, 2011
Evans Aprons
Laura Pyle wrote:
I also thought a marathon was no big deal. In the last few years, I've been training to run faster, and now I realize how incredibly difficult it is to run 26.2 miles at a pace just a bit slower than a fast 5K.


I believe anyone can finish a marathon. I completed my first marathon in 3:08 without training for it. The 22 mile "wall" was very real for me though. I could barely walk over a curb after the race. Id like to undertake some real training to run the Leadville 100 under 24 hours in the next couple of years.

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By Boodge Nomchompski
Feb 16, 2011
Ancient wall art
I've been an ultramarathoner and triathlete for almost 20 years, with 10 Ironman finishes and dozens of 50-100 milers...and there's one thing I know for sure. Ultras are WAY more fun...much better atmosphere, better people, cheaper.
I'm not saying don't bother with a half ironman, just be prepared for a VERY different style of event (think corporate-produced, money-hungry race production companies)
As far as "training" goes, I recommend keeping everything random and recreational and just doing something everyday, whether it's climbing, running, cycling, etc...don't worry about trying to stick to a schedule - just do whatever sounds fun that day. Just have a few key "workouts" that you do once every 7 - 10 days.
Good luck, have fun!

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By Timmy Fearn
Feb 16, 2011
Heading out of the pod at the beginning of the sec...
I ran an organized event on the Wildwood Trail Last year in May put on by Pacific Coast Trail Runs. It was a fun time. I usually prefer to do rambling trail runs on my own or with a few friends but it's also nice to join a large group, it really helped me to put my own conditioning into perspective. The training that I have done usually depends on what my longer term ambition is. There is a lot of good information on the internet. I think the biggest thing is to experiment and find out what works best for you. I have a fairly physical job and have found that although I am fine the day after a 15 mile run, I have to save the 20-30 mile runs for when I have the next day off. Everyone is different though. I don't know what your diet is, there are some things that can help you recover your glycogen stores much more quickly with the general accepted rule being to eat easily digestible carbohydrates within an hour after working out and then have a normal meal with protein shortly after the hour mark.

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By Laura Pyle
From Evergreen, CO
Feb 16, 2011
North face, Longs Peak.
Boodge Nomchompski wrote:
Ultras are WAY more fun...much better atmosphere, better people, cheaper.


+1. I think many climbers would have a hard time adapting to the Ironman scene.

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By Peter Franzen
Administrator
From Phoenix, AZ
Feb 16, 2011
Belay
grayhghost wrote:
My theory is that most casual marathoners don't take the in-race nutrition seriously enough and 20-22 miles is right when you fully deplete your glycogen stores from a big breakfast. Now that I eat every half hour while running my walls have shifted.


Yeah, that was a breakthrough for me as well. Even on a relatively casual 8-10 mile run a Gu and a couple of Clif Blocks make the last few miles so much better. I never used to eat much while running, but now whenever I go out for longer than half an hour I take something with me.

I'm sort of up in the air about triathlons. I've been a biker for most of my life but I really can't stand competitive road bikers in general, and I don't know that I'd want to surround myself with people I don't really mesh with on a regular basis. I love the idea of it though, and a half-Ironman seems like a pretty reasonable goal for the next year or two.

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By Tony B
From Around Boulder, CO
Feb 16, 2011
Got Milk? How about forearm pump? Tony leads "...
I thought the wall was day #2 after the run, when your knees stopped moving at all... but maybe that was just me.

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By Michael Schneiter
From Glenwood Springs, CO
Feb 16, 2011
Goofin' on the Grand after soloing the Upper Exum ...
I think that the "wall at mile #22" that so many marathon runners talk about is bullshit; it's all in your head, and if marathons were 30 miles long the wall would be at mile #27.

I'm curious to know if anyone else here runs long distances, and what kind of training they do to keep it up. I'd love to do another 50K later this year, but I don't know that I want to dedicate the time to regular 15-20 mile runs every single week.

The psychology of running is incredibly valuable and something I've studied heavily but as a veteran of many years of racing I've been victim to "the wall" on many occasions and at many distances. I usually don't think of it as a wall but for me it's more of a "I lost my fifth gear" kind of thing although there have been some moments where I really "hit it" and got into the death march of sorts. Anyway...

I've run some ultras although my wife is now more of the ultra runner in the family and I focus on shorter distances. In general, it depends on what your goals are, but you can do a lot with the right training plan. When I was running some ultras I was still able to climb 150-200 days a year because I did a lot of my easy runs before work, on my lunch break or other extra time where I found it. Basically, on my non-climbing days I did my big workouts and I dedicated one or two days a week to some longer runs and tried to do a big run once a week or every other week. There are a number of people who choose to do one big run (20+ miles) every two weeks instead of weekly and they operate on a two week cycle. One of the things that many of those people do is do "doubles" where any time you do a sizable run you do another sizable run the next day. So, for example, you might run 10 one day and 8 the next. Another week you might do a 25 mile run followed by 10 the next. I know last year when my wife did a 100 she thought the doubles were really beneficial for her training. I have a friend training for the Leadville 100 now who does 4 week cycles and most of his runs are "short", under 10 miles and then he does long ones here and there with some double days and other ways to get the miles in and the "long run" effect. The elite Brooks-Hanson racing team uses this kind of "double" training theory to get the long run effect people need for the longer distances.

Sorry but I get kind of "geeked out" because I'm a high school cross country coach and an avid runner and I really get into training. I'm happy to help in any way.

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By gravityneverrests
From Lakewood, CO
Feb 16, 2011
I've finished in the top 10 at Leadville 3 times on 15 miles a week but lots of crosstraing. I'd say I'm in the previous poster's "williing to suffer" category...

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By John Korfmacher
From Fort Collins, CO
Feb 16, 2011
Long's
"A willingness to suffer" can compensate for a multitude of shortcomings in one's training.

The wall exists--it is the effect of running out of stored glycogen. Training and nutrition, especially in-race nutrition, can push the wall back a ways. Ultrarunners rarely encounter the same kind of wall as do competitive marathoners because an ultra pace is much slower, and ultrarunners generally make detailed nutrition plans for race day.

There are all kinds of "other" walls awaiting the ultrarunner, including injury, hallucination, navigational blunders, hypothermia, hyperthermia, lightning...not to mention the idea of running for 8+ hours.

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By fossana
From Bishop, CA
Feb 16, 2011
West Overhang
50Ks are a good distance for those not wanting to invest a ton of time training and IMHO the most compatible ultra distance for climbers. You can also get away with alpine days as a substitute for some of your 15-20 mi runs. From experience, in the 50-100 mile range (unless you're extremely talented) it's harder to get maintain a good balance of climbing/running.

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By gravityneverrests
From Lakewood, CO
Feb 16, 2011
overall - 10th, 8th, tied for 7th in 22 hours. Not saying 15 miles a week means you can walk the next day but it can be done (grin)

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By Michael Schneiter
From Glenwood Springs, CO
Feb 17, 2011
Goofin' on the Grand after soloing the Upper Exum ...
JLP wrote:
I've never heard of a tie being called in a foot race. What years? Again, what kind of cross training and running history?


Yeah, I want to hear about this. Do tell.

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By Chris Plesko
From Westminster, CO
Feb 17, 2011
OMG, I winz!!!
It's not that uncommon in ultras. Sometimes when you slog for an entire day with someone it seems a bit contrived to out sprint one another at the finish line.

I'm a little surprised it happened that high up at Leadville but it doesn't surprise me in general.

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By Michael Schneiter
From Glenwood Springs, CO
Feb 17, 2011
Goofin' on the Grand after soloing the Upper Exum ...
Chris Plesko wrote:
It's not that uncommon in ultras. Sometimes when you slog for an entire day with someone it seems a bit contrived to out sprint one another at the finish line. I'm a little surprised it happened that high up at Leadville but it doesn't surprise me in general.


I don't doubt the tie because I've seen "ties" awarded in races such as this but I think we're curious about running 22 hours for 100 with only 15 miles of week of running. I've seen people do some amazing things on low mileage training so I'm generally curious, particularly because I'll be supporting a friend this year in his quest to complete the Leadman (5 race series at Leadville).

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By Ryan Lauck
From Farmington, UT
Feb 17, 2011
Cleaning the Green Adjective on my first climb in ...
anyone else running the moab red hot 50k this weekend? sounds like its gonna be another snowy one

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By gravityneverrests
From Lakewood, CO
Feb 18, 2011
JLP's attitude is why I rarely post on forums. You don't know me - why would you question my race times on my training? Why don't you think ties happen in running races? Idiot...
I was a state-ranked runner in high school and NCAA All American Nordic Combined in college so some deep base-fitness level and ingrained willingness to suffer. I got into Leadville several years later due to Andy Lapkass - a Leadville semi-legend with Skip Hamilton. On my third Leadville, and my brothers second run, we told Ken Clouber that we intended to run the whole thing together and finish together - pretty tough to keep two people together in a race that long with that many physical and emotional ups and downs. We tied for 7th and flipped a coin to see who got 7th and who got 8th - and yes, overall. I've got the buckles and gold pans and ribbons and sweat-shirts to prove it... We are also interviewed for the movie that year at Twin Lakes asking how we were competive on low milage with the elite high-milage runners. My response on film was "Stupidity, pure stupidity!".
We would usually do a couple of 10K tempo runs during the week. We did construction for work (Cross training of sorts if you are working hard and long days) and weekends were usually spent on long alpine rock climbs. Hope this satifies the doubters. If you want more, pm me. Sorry if I am defensive, I just take offense at someone questioning the abilities of a person they have never met...

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By AGParker
From San Angelo, TX
Feb 18, 2011
I have a question for you folks. During the final miles of the 50k I ran about 18 months ago, I started having some knee pain. For about a year after the race I would experience knee pain anytime I ran more than 3 or 4 miles. Obviously my training suffered as a result. I can now run again without pain, finally.

So, my question is...what sort of injuries have you suffered running ultras and how have you dealt with them?

Also, kind of along the lines of completing 100 milers with limited training, how do you think overall training milage affects injury rates? I was up to running about 30-35 miles per week prior to my 50k and felt that I wasn't training enough.

Thanks

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