How to Balance Ultramarathon Training with Life.

So I’ve written a post about finding a balance when you are training for a marathon (which can be a task in itself) but what about when you are training for an ULTRAmarathon? It can be tough to try and increase your workouts and/or your mileage with a busy career and social schedule. BUT as someone that actually enjoys running BEYOND the 26.2 distance I am here you tell you…than it CAN be done! And you don’t have to lose your mind, either. So for those ultra unicorns out there (or those of you that are thinking about training for a 50k, 50 miler or 100 mile race) here are a few things you can do to maintain your balance (and your sanity) while training for an ultra.

Be realistic about your training. Not everyone can run high mileage without injury. Bottom line. It takes patience, persistence and lots of ego free easy running to build it up slowly and safely. It has taken me years to be able to run 80-100 miles a week on a consistent basis. I never thought I would be the type of ultrarunner that I am today. Yet here I am. But, do what your body is capable of doing. Not what your friend’s body can do.

YES, you can run an ultra if you run 50-60 miles a week. Supplement some of those run days with cross training days. I know a lot of folks that do Ironmans and triathlons that dabble in ultra races. They can handle the workload and stress of ultra running, even though they may run less. Why? Because they are used to the endurance part of it. So, bike if you want to bike, swim, do YOGA. Strength train. The stronger you get your body the more you will be able to do without breaking down.

Put in the WORK. OK, keep it real time. Sometimes I may post on here and I may make it look easy in terms of how much I run. But trust and believe I work my ASS off. I (usually) never bitch about it. I have a good attitude about it. I actually LOVE what I am doing (imagine that?) I am not running because I want to look good in a cocktail dress (okay maybe sometimes) I run a lot and I teach classes at the gym and I work hard because I love it. I thrive off of it. Because I am competitive by nature and I like to kick my own ass. You have to have a certain type of grit I think to actually enjoy ultra running. Develop that GRIT and that mental capacity that it takes. Get up early. Run alone sometimes. Run when you don’t want to, on a day when it is cold and rainy and you would rather be in bed. Those are the days you will remember when you are running an ultra, or when you are on the trails ALONE going at it for 50, 60, 100 miles. Believe it.

Mix up what time of day that you run. Do you ALWAYS habitually run in the morning?? Go for a run at lunch sometimes. Can’t run at lunch? Go for some sunset miles. Run twice a day to get used to how you feel at certain times of the day when you are running. Especially with any distance over 50 miles (100k or 100 miler) you need to change it up to mimic how you will feel when it gets dark on the trail or whatever ultra race that you run.

Give yourself a BREAK sometimes. I mean this in all aspects of life. Take a rest day at least once a week. Go out with your friends WHO DON’T RUN. Talk about other shit that has nothing to do with running. Go to a nice restaurant and treat yourself to a good meal. Enjoy food! Enjoy life! Live is for living. Life is the reason why I run ultras, frankly. I love life and I love running and I want to be able to do it, for a long time. That is why I’m thankful for the trails, to be able to enjoy nature and soak it all in.

Where my ultrarunner unicorns at!? How do you balance ultratraining with life?

Race Day Pace Day…Cowtown Ultramarathon Recap.

Yes, you are getting not one but two shiny posts from me today. Kind of annoying, right?! Well if you know anything about me you know that I really enjoy recapping races. So, let’s chat about the Cowtown Ultramarathon today…and recap!

This was my FIRST TIME ever pacing a 50k race…which was super exciting. Last year I paced the 26.2 distance so this year was super huge for me. Actually this race alone is so special to me simply because I’ve run it so many times. This was my 6th year running it and actually the place that I raced my first ever 50k road race 2 years ago. Actually, 3 years ago I was signed up to run the 50k, it got canceled because of ice on the ground…and I ran it on my own a few days later. Literally, I got off from work early that day, went straight to the park and ran 31 miles till it got dark all by my lonesome. Who does that?! Me I guess. And I finished the whole thing, mostly because I trained for it and I’ll be damn if a little bad weather is going to change that!! Yes, I am stubborn as all get out. Anyway, I attribute that to the reason why I’m so gung ho about ultra distances to this day. There was just something about running beyond that 26.2 mark that TRANSFORMED my heart and soul. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Anyway, I was looking forward to this race all week long. I admittedly did no tapering whatsoever, really just used this pacing opportunity as a training run for the 50 miler that I am scheduled to run in May. So, I knew it would be a high mileage week and also that my legs needed to be tired to run a 10:30ish pace. As most of my readers know in the last year…I’ve gotten significantly faster and really a lot of my training has been more within the 7 minute to 9 minute mile range. Even my slow easy runs at this point are well under 10 minute miles. So, going into this I knew it would be a challenge to maintain that pace and not feel like molasses. But, I went ahead with it anyway and was excited for the ride.

Half pace bunnies in purple, full in white. ULTRA in yellow. 

Sunday, I got my pacer stick and met up with my pace bud, Jon. Jon and I actually both ran Rocky Raccoon 100 last year and I had done some running with him before. We are even Strava buds!! So, even cooler that I was actually pacing with someone that I knew! As a pacer, sometimes you are paired up with people that you have never met, and at times that can make it hard to mesh well and plan out your pacing strategy. I’ve been pretty lucky too in the last few pacing ‘jobs’ I’ve had, I’ve paced solo so I kind of could do what I wanted. But, this ended up working out great because Jon and I were on the same page.

We had a few runners along with us for the ride that actually ended up staying with us for a majority of the run. One gal (actually a girl that reads here!) Rebecca ran her first 19 ish or so miles with us until she found her friends before we hit Trinity Park. So it was really cool to run with her, and really kind of chat with all of the runners to hear their stories. Another girl that ran with us ran the ultra last year, and finished well over the 6 hour mark so she was looking to have a major PR. And that she did, she stuck with us up until mile 30 or so and she took off to victory.

I felt really good during this run, of course the legs got pretty tired past the 20 mile mark but I expected them to be (see previous post with weekly running recap here). Also it got pretty warm in the back half of this race, when we do a little out and back to get the extra 5 miles in before heading back to the finish line. Those last 5ish miles were basically ALL IN THE SUN, so we had banked a little time to take our time during this portion of the race. As far as the hills went, they didn’t really feel that difficult this time. I attribute that to doing lots of hill training and of course doing lots of trail runs in the last several months. It is amazing how when your fitness improves, things just feel a ton easier.

I took one salt tablet throughout the race, a few Gus and some gatorade. I also had a lil shot of beer (yes they were passing out lots of that) towards about mile 23 or so. The girl that PR’d had one too. HA…I was a great influence. But yeah, at that point in the race I have to say a little shot of a fizzy alcoholic beverage kind of helps. Especially when you are running an ultra.

We booked it to the finish line and actually had a little time to spare – 5:28 finish time right under 5:30. I like to leave a little wiggle room there especially for the runners who run with us so it turned out just perfect. Jon and I made a great team! He commented that it was the best he ever felt during an ultra race. And honestly, I feel that way too!! I really enjoyed pacing this distance and part of me kind of wants to do it all again next year. This was one of my most favorite pacing experiences to date.

50k – 31ish miles, dunski.

Thank you, Cowtown for showing us a marvelous time.

Pacers gonna pace. (yes that is my new favorite saying now, someone said it yesterday during the race and now I can’t stop saying it.)

See you next year. Congrats to all.

Any other Cowtown Ultramarathoners out there?? How was your race? Tell me all about it!!

Oktoberfest 50k Trail Race Recap.

Hey there! Oh yes, you get not 1 but 2 stinkin’ blog posts today!! Say what?!! As promised I told you all I would deliver with the Oktoberfest 50k race recap. So here it goes!

Last Saturday was a fun morning on the trails. Lately I have really been enjoying getting off the beaten path and getting into a little deep woods therapy. Trail running for me is a totally different type of challenge, and one over the years that I have really learned to enjoy. It is SO different from road running and the mindset is one that not everyone can really adapt to. Often times, I hear road runners saying ‘oh, I don’t do trails’. But man, are they missing out!! Not only are you getting an amazing agility workout working different types of muscles that you don’t work on concrete, but it makes your legs stronger and actually translates to making you stronger out on the roads. Who woulda thunk it?! But yeah, once I learned that pacing and terrain was so different and really it is not even ABOUT pace at all…I started to really love this thing called trail running.

So back to Saturday, I actually won an entry to this race after winning 1st place overall female at the Piney Woods 100k a few short weeks ago. The race director asked me which distance I preferred and I knew at that moment that the 50k was where my head was at. Lately I’ve really loved the longer distances on trails, and because also I can be a tad competitive I typically want to do the longest distance offered. HA. So 50k it was. I signed up and was good to go. I knew my training was pretty much on par with this race especially since I’ve been running higher mileage. Also I was so excited to do an October race as I absolutely love the festive fall season.

I drove out to the country town of Farmersville, Texas and made my trek out to the trail. The start actually wasn’t so bad, 7 a.m. start for us 50k and marathon folks, and for the shorter distances a 8:00 a.m. start. This was actually the 2nd year that Ultra Expeditions has put on this race. The directors are wicked cool and surprisingly super organized. I absolutely loved Piney Woods so I knew no doubt they would put on a good Oktoberfest run.

7 a.m. & we took off. The first 2 miles of this route are actually paved until we hit the trails in the country, kind of in the middle of nowhere. This particular trail system, I was told they are supposed to be stretching out to go 100+ miles out which was pretty cool. So it was fun to be a part of that. The 50k course runs 15.5 miles out and back. I actually thought this would be incredibly tiring but it was fun and went by fairly quickly! Plus coming back we got to see lots of runners so that always helps because you can high five and say good job and all of that jazz.

I actually joked to a friend of mine who was out there running this race that this was probably going to feel more like a road race because it was described to us as ‘flat and fast’ and running along some rail trails. But boy, was I proved WRONG! After the 2 miles out things got REAL rocky and real rugged. I’m talking loose rocks and just lots of uneven terrain which proved to be tiring on the legs. So again, I had to re-adjust my mindset, get out of speedy road runner mode, and back into hippie trail run mode. Which was okay with me, especially after coming from running a 62 mile race not long ago. I took it easy out there, stopped at aid stations to refuel and such. And really just enjoyed the country scenery.

I made my way back to the start of the trail in over 5 hours, again, very fine with me. Once I finished the race director informed me that I came in among the top overall females! So fun and very happy with 3rd overall out of all of these ladies who completed the 50k course. It was a small race but there was some decent competition out there. So I felt good about that 31 mile finish.

The icing on the cake – my favorite cider, and having a bite of a grilled bratwurst afterwards. Absolute heaven.

So what is next?! Well, I am still playing on the trails but I’m back to some road races for the remainder of this year. I scored a free entry to run the Rock n Roll San Antonio half (thank you, Brooks Running!) and then running the BMW Dallas Marathon the following week. I am looking forward to being back on the roads and working on my speed again. It should be a good time.

How is your week going? Run any marathons (or ultras) lately?

The Many Emotions of Ultra Training.

As you know running can evoke many different emotions…mostly those of euphoria and happiness…but it has its highs and lows! I did a post on this not too long ago but since training for the ultra marathon I have a few other emotions I’d like to share! See below.

The feeling of tired legs after running doubles. You’ve gotta love those double run days, right? Because every day is leg day. Frankly…high mileage running/ultra training requires your legs to not always be springy and fresh sometimes. It just comes with the territory. Cry me a river, build me a bridge and get over it.

The feeling of intense RUNger after that 10 or 11 mile weekday run. Yes, I’ll have eggs and bacon and all of the foods for breakfast. Thankyouverymuch.

The emotion of signing up for that hot new trail race in a beautiful location. Because you must get that shiny new buckle to add to your collection. Who needs medals when there are so many amazing belt buckles?! I am just saying.

Knowing you have a big back to back long run weekend coming up. Back to back 20 milers?! NBD. Eat, sleep, RUN, repeat. Exactly in that order.

That feeling of hitting your highest weekly/monthly mileage YET. That feeling I must say is pretty darn incredible.

The feeling of always wanting ALL OF THE HOURS of sleep. Can’t get enough sleep. Can’t stop won’t stop. Work hard nap hard.

The emotion of running because you truly do LOVE it…not because you want to win a race, or to prove something to someone else. Because the simple act of running brings so much joy into your life. Body, mind and soul.

What are some of your emotions of ultra training, or just running in general?

8 Things No One Tells You About Ultra Running.

Running is such a glorious sport and even after many years I still feel like a student learning something new every day along my journey. But today, we are going to delve into ultra running a bit and discuss a few things no one really tells you before you start exploring distances beyond 26.2! So here it goes…

1. Ultrarunning is the ultimate test of your mental will. Honestly you can train your tail off but if you go into the race with even just a drop of insecurity, not completely sure that you are capable of finishing…well guess what? It’s very likely your race will result in a DNF. Believe in yourself and your abilities. Your stubbornness is what is going to get you to that 100 mile finish line. Believe it.

2. You will learn what your stomach can and cannot handle REALLY quickly. I learned during my 100 miler that I prefer more savory/salty foods than sweet. Pickles were my best friend. And so was sausage fresh off the grill. Yes, they made HOT food during that race and in the evening when it got cooler it was the best thing ever.

3. Hallucinations are really crazy/fun. You haven’t really done a race until you see trees floating in the distance.

4. A fresh pair of socks or a change of shoes mid race can truly be a game changer.

5. Sleep? What’s sleep? When you are racing against a clock in a 100 miler there is no time for such an activity.

6. You will meet some of the most amazing people you will ever meet in your life out on the trail. The trail and ultra community will truly treat you like family. Everyone is so down to earth, laid back…and they will help you get through those tough moments when you want to throw in the towel.

7. The longer the race, the more it will affect you emotionally. After running beyond 50 miles, being out there in the dark will just take a toll on you and really mess with you. You will fight whatever demons you deal with and even the most positive optimistic person will have those highs and lows.

8. But the highs and lows are what is the most amazing part of running these distances. You come out the other side a different person. And it makes you want to go back again and again. It’s kind of like a self discovery.

Any ultra runners out there? What are some things you wish you knew before you started running beyond 26.2?

Crazy Things Ultrarunners Say.

So yes, we all know about the quirky things runners do. But if you have been in the running community for a while, you KNOW this other group of runners. The ones who run the crazy distances, the trail races, the races in the mountains etc. This is a very small but interesting group of people! To say the least. Ha. Here are some things, in random order, that ultra runners say.

I’m just running a marathon to train for this ultra. Because running 26.2 miles is clearly not enough.

This weekend I will run back to back 25 milers, no big deal.

Just hydrating for this weekend’s trail race. Let’s go get some craft beers. I need the carbs.

50k? Oh that is just a few miles more than a marathon. It’s a baby ultra.

Let’s sign up for a 100 mile race just for fun.

It’s okay to use the bathroom in the woods. Everybody does that.

Is that a deer? Snake? Coyote? Oh just keep going…they won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.

What are some other crazy things ultrarunners/runners say?

4 Ways to Nail Your First Ultramarathon.

So I know some of you have been eyeing some races past the 26.2 mile distance..well if so, this post is for you! I thought I would share a few pointers that have worked for me when it comes to training for and racing ultras.

Mile 30 something of the Rocky Raccoon 100. Say cheese for the camera!

Here are some ways you can and will totally dominate your first 50k, 50 miler and beyond.

1. Stay consistent with your training. I wrote another post here about this very topic. I think this is kind of the number one thing that will make you successful not only in running but in life. Sure, we have days where we are not feeling well, too tired and need to sleep in, what have you but consistent training will always bring you results. Believe it.

2. Don’t worry so much about how fast you are going. It’s all relative anyway. As runners we tend to be pace obsessed but in the ultra marathon world pace is really not all that important. Time on your feet is definitely more crucial than how fast you are going. There are days for those quality workouts, tempo runs and etc but easy mileage and just being out there for long periods of time will get you where you need to be. Plus, not all ultras are created equal…trail races in the mountains vs a road race, totally different animals. Effort definitely trumps being speedy when it comes to running crazy distances.

3. Take the time to take care of yourself. That means ample sleep, eating the right foods for performance and etc. We all have to have a balance but making sure you are getting good sleep at night if you are running so many miles should absolutely be your top priority. I actually turn my phone off or on silent mode after a certain time of night and most of my friends and family know this about me. I do value my sleep simply because when I’m in training mode I’m all about getting up early.

4. Baby steps will produce results in the long run. Pun intended. So you have a handful of marathons under your belt? Well it would be a great time to sign up for that local 50k. A 50k is only a few miles more than a marathon so it is realistic and doable. Have you completed the 50k distance? Then perhaps you could start doing back to back long runs on the weekends, up your mileage safely and run a 50 miler. Each distance is an excellent stepping stone for the next one. Respect the distance and it will respect you.

Any ultrarunners out there with tips for the group?

Hachie 50 Mile Race Recap.

Hey there! How was your weekend? Hope you were able to do some fun things and kick back and relax a bit. I ran the Hachie 50 miler out in Waxahachie, TX and lived to tell about it! Let’s get right into it, shall we?

As some of you know I ran this same race last year, and I truly loved it so much I decided to go again this year! And of course, I had a time goal – which was to beat my previous finish time. I knew I would have to buckle down and focus on staying consistent with my pace despite the heat. It would be hard seeing as 50 miles is no easy feat but my training has been pretty on point lately so I went into this race fairly confident.

Saturday morning we lined up to the start and the gun went off around 5 a.m. It was super dark out still but we all had our headlamps and blinky lights flashing in the woods. It was kind of cool and fun to see all of the lights galavanting in the darkness.

So this race is a total of 5 loops, 10 miles each. I don’t at all mind looped courses, it is boring for some but for me provided that the loops are long enough it helps to be able to count down how far you have to go. Plus the aid stations were close to one another so that helped with the fuel and hydration etc.

The temps were probably what I fought with the most this year. It was nice and cool in the morning but warmed up to about 80 degrees during the later miles. Mile 45 in the straight up heat with the sun beating down my back was a killer. But I was absolutely so thankful for the amazing volunteers and how organized this race was. They made sure the water/gatorade on the course was nice and cold for us and they also provided us with icy cold towels to put on our backs.

When it was all said and done I basically blew my previous time out of the water with an 8 hour and 28 minute finish! A new 50 mile PR for me and good enough for 2nd place overall female! They gave me both a medal and a belt buckle for being a top finisher. Winner winner chicken dinner.

I have to thank my amazing pacer also for helping me out towards the end with the heat.

How was your weekend? What did you do?

A Few Reasons Why You Should (and Shouldn’t) Run 100 Miles.

So today I thought I’d chat about something near and dear to my heart. The 100 mile distance! It’s definitely not an easy feat but I thought I’d share some reasons why you should (and shouldn’t) run a distance of this magnitude. Just some things to think about if you are thinking about hitting that registration button!

You can check out my 100 mile ultra experience here and here.

Do it for you and only you. I definitely think running this distance is not for the faint of heart. You have to go into a race like this knowing without a shadow of a doubt that you WANT to finish. Sure, it’s not going to be easy. But mentally, you have to just be ALL IN. You can train your ass off but frankly if it’s something you are not sure you want to do, it’s not going to happen for you. There are no bones about that. Be confident in your abilities and know that you are capable of making it to that finish line.

DON’T do it for social media or for bragging rights. Because let’s be honest, most people on social media do not even really understand why someone in their right mind would even want to accomplish such a feat. It takes a special kind of crazy to run an ultra, specifically a hundo. Hey, if you are looking for likes on instagram, just go run a marathon. You will probably get more likes doing that anyway. 100 miles is not about bragging rights. It’s about proving to YOURSELF that you can push past those limits and achieve something incredible. It’s an accomplishment that no one can take away from you.

Do it to immerse yourself into nature. If you are a true nature lover like myself you can totally geek out on God’s great masterpiece. You will see the sunrise, sunset, trees and if you’re lucky maybe even some wildlife. It’s freaking amazing and makes me want to sign up for another one just to go explore some more incredible parts of the world.

Don’t do it to compare yourself with your fellow runners. It should always be you vs. you when it comes to running and racing. Because at the end of the day, there will always be someone faster or who can go longer than you. Sizing up yourself against others will get you nowhere. Be proud of every milestone that you make and keep moving forward.

Do it for the experience that you will truly remember for the rest of your life. When I signed up to run the 100 miler, I truly had no idea the impact it would make on my life. It’s truly like living a lifetime in a day. More than 24 hours of being out on a trail will really change you from the inside on out. It brought out emotions and feelings in me that I did not know I had. I made best friends with total strangers and remember so many amazing people who made my experience worthwhile. All of that is what makes this distance so special.

What are some reasons why you would sign up for a 100 mile race or an ultra?

Mother Nature Was Showing Off and Ultrarunner Staples.

Hey there! My morning started out a bit rainy and stormy but it quickly cleared and gave way to absolutely beautiful sunshine. Mother nature was just showing off today! 10.02 miles done.

So here are a few foods I absolutely love and think are great ultrarunner staples! When I was training for my 100 miler I made sure to include many of these in my diet! So if you are contemplating running an ultra (and staying healthy while doing it), take notes.

Avocados/nuts/etc. Healthy fats are the way to go. I love almonds (and almond milk!!), pistachios and generally could just eat avocados straight. Sprinkle a little sea salt/lime on there and boy you are good to go.

Lean protein. Grilled chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon etc are generally my go tos. They just keep me satisfied and full. Generally dinner will be chicken with a veggie and a complex carb.

Leafy greens- Spinach and kale are my two faves. Typically I’ll throw ‘em in a smoothie or will have a huge salad for lunch with cherry tomatoes and raw broccoli thrown in.

Greek yogurt. Typically I go for the nonfat kind and will throw on a bunch of fruit/maybe a few nuts or some granola. I love having this especially after a run. For some reason I crave things like yogurt/acai bowls and cold things post workout.

Sweet potatoes and butternut squash. I love everything spiralized and having these handy really helped me to not go crazy on the pasta and white refined carbs. I will throw on on some ground turkey and avocado, maybe some goat cheese and go to town.

Kombucha- I think it’s something about the probiotics I’m really digging with kombucha. As you know probiotics are fantastic for your digestive system. Plus it just gives me a ton of energy and makes me feel good. I drink kombucha probably twice a week…it can be pricey!

What are some of your go to runner superfoods?