I asked 11 Bataan Death March Ultramarathoners (see their profile here) for their top 3 tips for wannabe ultramarathoners. Here’s what they said:
ATTY. JON LACANLALE:
- Read up everything you could on ultra. I mean everything you could get your hands on. Knowledge and preparation are everything. Everything is intertwined. For example, you messed up in your fuel or hydration intake during a race and you wish you did not join.
- You simply have to love pain. You have to be crazier than the ordinary mortals out there to join these kinds of races! Can you endure running with blisters (the size of golf balls) under the balls of your feet for several hours and not cry mama? You just have to have high tolerance for pain but please remember the glory is in the difficulty.
- Have an inspiration. Run for others whether for family, friends, enemies or even your pet. There has to be selfless side to it.
- Plan and organize your training program then gradually build up your mileage and try to hit your target weekly mileage
- Train for the elements: know what the environment/ weather the race presents then train appropriately for it
- Taper well and do a lot of mental training: taper week is a good time to do more mental training because usually as the physical training goes down, mental training goes up). the last half of the race becomes purely mental almost!!!
- You gotta train and prepare properly, joining an ultra is no joke which is why those who have done long runs/races that test physical endurance capabilities are in the best position to know how their bodies will respond when faced with more similar and daunting challenges.
- Never ever forget to constantly hydrate and refuel (this is what kept me going)
- You have to be a little crazy or dizzy to join an ultramarathon, ENJOY IT that’s the journey and the experience.
- TRAIN PROPERLY — An ultra is not a race that you could cheat. If you come unprepared, you will feel the toll as early as the first half. Build on your mileage. Go long on your runs. And prepare yourself mentally that this wouldn’t be easy.
- BE PATIENT –Learn to pace yourself. Don’t go all out at the start of a race. Bear in mind that this is a very long run and all energy should be conserved so as to take you to the finishline. There are no shortcuts. At the end of the day, you need to go through all the kilometers you are racing. Start slow, finish strong.
- LOVE WHAT YOU ARE DOING — Training for an ultra takes 100% commitment. You need to balance work, family, and social life with your training program. You need to learn how to give and take. If you see this as a chore, chances are you would not enjoy what you are doing. In the end, you will find yourself skipping your training days. And you will find yourself wondering, “Did I train right for this?” or “What am I doing here at this start line?” If you love what you are doing, you would be able to diligently follow your program, and you would be able to confidently stand along with the other runners and say “Hell yeah, I can do this.”
- TRAIN for it, the distance is a huge challenge to many, even experienced marathoners. Do run up to 50km at least prior to the race to get used to the fatigue.
- Nutrition is essential, constantly taking in fluids & gels, ensure your body electrolyte storage is not depleted.
- Enjoy the run, enjoy the sights & sounds(I have never seen such a beautiful sunrise before (: )
- Develop a good physical stamina and build-up endurance gradually so that your body has enough time to adapt and get accustomed to the stress imposed. This will also help you stay injury-free.
- Mental imagery coupled with actual practice of race conditions so that both body and mind is trained and prepared for what is to come. Develop a game plan and stick with it.
- Have a strong support group and running buddies who will give you a push when you need it. In my case, my boyfriend Kevin Fule of Gold’s Gym was there for me through and through. He offered all the support I needed in finishing my first ultra.
You know how realtors say location, location, location? Well, for aspiring ultramarathoners, it’s train, train, train. I’m the last person they should listen to because I did everything wrong. I didn’t deprive myself of anything, my lifestyle didn’t change all that much. And I realize, if I want to do better, things will have to, there is no other way.
- Train real hard.just remember that it is in these training days that makes the race easier come d-day
- Train your mental side as well.you can’t simply finish an ultramarathon by merely training your legs to endure the distance.it is the homestretch that will test all your limits-physically,mentally,spiritually and emotionally
- No matter how hard the race gets going,enjoy each and every step,however small,painful and slow, because everything will be over even before you know it. Besides,every step you make will lead you to where it matters the most in the end.
- Always have a plan, bawal ang “bahala na si batman”. If Plan A doesn’t work, make sure you have plan b c d e…. well it’s a long race. Part of the plan is nutrition. Thanks to Harvie of Hammer for giving me a nutrition program that enabled me to race all the way to 102.
- Visualize the outcome of crossing the finish line and getting your medal. You have to believe.
- When the going gets tough and you can’t run or walk anymore, chop runs into small repetitions by targeting objects on the road. In my case, I would run 3 posts then walk 1. Run up to the Pajero then walk till the salmon colored house. This was my plan until the final 10km surge of running to the finish.
- Train for the long haul. Increase your mileage gradually to avoid injury. Don’t rush things.
- Incorporate working out the whole body and core; do cross training like bike or swim for endurance. An endurance runner needs a strong core.
- Rest. Once a week give your body time to recover and heal.
- A proper race plan (which includes rest planning) is as important as the training you go through.
- Never believe you can’t do it!
- Enjoy your race!