By HPRS Race Director “Sherpa” John Lacroix
You believe deep down within yourself, that you can actually run 100 miles. You’ve decided what race you want to do as your first and all of a sudden you’re faced with an important question that you’ll ask again and again; Now What? Now comes the hard part. The part that stumps many and forsakes them from even finding the starting line. Commitment.
According to Wikipedia, Commitment is defined as: “…the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.. It is also known as a pledge or an undertaking. A commitment is never supposed to be broken, if it is broken; that means it was never a commitment rather was just a pretention and lying.”
That’s some pretty heavy stuff right there. “A commitment is never supposed to be broken..” Think about that for a moment. I agree, it makes your endeavor a bit scarier doesn’t it? That’s what this post is for though. To try and help you commit to this endeavor of running your first ultra. Below are some tips to help you commit.
Tell Everyone You Know
Let’s put those social media websites you belong to, to good use. Get on Facebook and Twitter and let the whole world know your intentions. Tell them what race, what distance, and when it is. Then, ask them for your support. In fact, I suggest you save yourself some trouble by starting with something like this; “Many of you will think I’m crazy, but today I announce my commitment to running the _________.” Finish it off with, “I know many of you are runners yourselves. I would very much appreciate your company as I train. For those who don’t run, your unwavering support is greatly appreciated.” Then sit back and watch while half of them call you crazy, and just about everyone offers you words of support and encouragement. Keep tabs of who seems the most supportive. You’ll certainly need them along the way. For those who are married, now is a great time to talk to your spouse (you should have done this before actually) and the rest of your family. Explain to them your intentions. Tell them why it is important to you. Lay it all out for them, that you’re going to be training a lot and it’s going to take up a bit more of your time then they’re used to. Don’t just ask them for their support, lay it all out for them in a language they understand. Tell them how they can help support you on your journey, and find ways to include them. For example: Make your long runs a family adventure. You run, while the family follows on their bikes.
Start A Blog/Document Your Journey
Document your journey by starting a blog or vlog, yes.. MAKE VIDEOS of your journey and share it even if you’re not comfortable with it. Think about how inspiring you’ll be to the mere mortals in your life… or at the very least start a journal. Continue to tell the world about what you’re doing, how you’re progressing, and always where you plan to go from day 98 to day 99. Share things that you’ve learned. Things you’ve read online or in a book. Tell people where they can find the info too.
Ask questions, be them to yourself or to others. If you’re writing a blog, share the link on your Facebook page or Twitter account and be sure that family and friends see it. It will help them support and encourage you along the way. Now is not the time to be shy. Your intentions are bold enough. Let this be just another piece of the puzzle and a way for you to vent, discuss and learn, and gather support from others along the way. Hell, gather your own little audience. In the end, you’ll find a nifty homemade morale booster.
Register For The Race
Some folks do this before they let the world know. This is an incredibly important step. If you haven’t all ready, investigate how the registration process for your goal race works. Remember that EVERY RACE IS DIFFERENT. You really need to investigate if your race is just a pay and play, a lottery, or if there is a qualifying process, etc. Don’t get left out just because you didn’t think ahead. With that in mind, if the race registration opens at 7:00am Mountain Time on December 20th and you live in New York; you better have the website up and ready to go by 8:55am Eastern Time so when it hits 9:00am you’re paying and in. YES, some races do in fact fill in 30 seconds or less. So be ready, you’ve been warned. The bottom line here is this. If you are going to commit to a race, there is no better way to commit then shelling out the money to do it. Then, you and your wallet are tied to the event. No excuses now. You’ve all been warned about the race registration processes, go investigate and figure out your plan. Then execute!
Remember to Progress
As I’ve said before, I am incredibly against jumping from 26.2 right to 100 miles. If you’re planning on a running your 1st 100 miler, make it a point to find a 50 miler 4-6 weeks out from your big race. Make sure that this 50 Miler has terrain and a difficulty comparable to the 100 you plan to run (or easier!). Sign up for this event as well and commit to run this race as a training run and not a “race.” If you’ve yet to run a 50K prior to that 50 miler, I recommend you try and run a 50K some 4-6 weeks prior to that 50 miler. The same rules apply for your first trail marathon as well. Be smart! Plan ahead. Figure out when races happen, what races you plan to run, how you plan to get there. If you’re a traditional road runner who’s decided they want to take it to the next level by running an ultra, you better teach your body to enjoy trails rather than roads.. and in a hurry. Though, this shouldn’t be hard for most. Progress!
26.2 -> Trail 26.2 -> 50k -> 50mi -> 100mi.
Create Good Habits
Now is a time for you to get into good habits. Be it your diet or your training regime. Find out when the best time to run is and Run! Figure out how your diet may be altered within this time as well, and slowly start to alter it. We do these things so that when we start to train in earnest, we’re warmed up, have created a schedule, and good habits to help us along the way. This will make it easier for you to keep your commitment as it’ll prevent the “All-In Crash and Burn.” As I write this post, I am following my training plan for the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 (in July). I started following that plan on January 1st. Yeah, that early. For the entire month of December I was creating my training schedule and running when I planned to run (what days and times). I’m also getting my diet figured out so that I’m ready to put my nose to the grindstone when training. But hey, don’t take my word for it. I mean.. I’ve finished over 50 ultras since 2005, injury free.
Don’t get into the habit of creating excuses and justifying your short comings. Either you want to be an ultra runner, you’re committed to the process of what it takes, or you’re not. Either you’re going to live the life of the sedentary and come up with reasons why you can’t, won’t or shouldn’t.. or you’ll live by the belief that you can and WILL do everything you put your mind to. If you fail to plan, then plan to fail. If you’re going to come up with excuses, reasons, or justifications for not getting it done.. you never truly believed you could. So buckle in and commit.
Commitment is one of the toughest parts of running an ultra. This is the time in your life where you put your chips all in and lay your cards on the table. Now is the time where you truly start to create a plan and let the world know about it. Hold yourself accountable and allow others to hold you accountable too. In the end, you’ll reap the benefits of being well prepared and even better supported. Now get out there and run!