You’ve Signed up for UTA, Now What?

You’ve Signed up for UTA, Now What?

UTAlogoSo you just signed up for an ultra. Congratulations if this is your 1st you are about to experience something really amazing especially if you are one of those lucky people signing up for Ultra Trail Australia one of many iconic trail events in Australia.

That was the easy part now begins a journey of self discovery. If you signed up for the Ultra Trail Australia 50km or 100km you have 6 months to prepare and the sooner you start the better.   So where do you start?

  1. Build your base. In an ideal world you will ease into training in January and February, have 8 weeks of uninterrupted training in March and April leaving you to enjoy the sharpening period in May as we cut back on the workload. BUT we don’t live in an ideal world and it’s quite possible that you will get sick, you will have work or family commitments and you might miss some critical training sessions. This isn’t going to matter too much if you have a solid base to draw on. So start now, maintain your habit of running or if it’s a bit haphazard sort out a training routine that fits around your life.
  2. Address any niggles, injuries or weaknesses you might be carrying. To make the most of your experience aim to train consistently right up to your event. As soon as your training load increases these weaknesses will be revealed and could result in injury and the last thing you want to do is blow your investment and it is a significant investment. While you might be able to trade your race entry you won’t get back the time you have invested in training, mandatory gear and other training and racing kit.
  3. Start thinking about your training routes. Not every training run needs to on the course and while it would be nice it’s not a reality for many of us. Your training routes do need to replicate the course as best as they can. Which for UTA means it will be trail, it will include some stairs, it will be technical, it may include some road and it will include some stairs, did I say stairs, yes I will say it again you will do a lot of stairs up and down so find some on a trail if you can and include them in your training routes. I ran this event in 2014 and I hadn’t run the course beforehand but I did find training routes that replicated what I would experience on race day and I was adequately prepared and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
  4. Start accumulating the mandatory gear. If you haven’t checked already you should now have an idea of what you will need. There is quite a lot of mandatory gear that you are required to carry and for good reason. The course takes you through some remote and isolated areas and conditions can change quickly so you could get into a situation where survival could be critical. You have just forked out a lot for race entry but you can pick up some bargains on the equipment you need and the last thing you want to do race week is stress about having the right equipment, having to buy it at a premium and then whether it will, in fact fit in your pack.  Morning run cartoon
  5. Don’t be scared. Yes it is scary but that’s what makes it great. There will be times when you will want to quit, when another early morning start or a long hilly run is just not what you feel like today, you will ask yourself why you do this to yourself. Trust me when you cross that finish line at Scenic World in May it will all be worth it.
Connie Beattie finishing the 2015 The Northface 100 Australia 50km in 7:56:49. She certainly doesn’t look like she has been on her feet for 8 hours. Image retrieved from

The journey has begun and every run you do now gets you closer to achieving your goal at UTA. Sure have a few days off from running over Christmas and/or the New Year but don’t let two or three days become two or three weeks.

UP Coaching will again be involved in the coaching and training of athletes who have one of the Ultra-Trail Australia races as a goal in 2016. From those attempting a race for the first time, to those wanting to improve on a previous performance, through to individuals who hope to crack a top 10 spot we have excellent coaching support available.

Here is a link to a video capturing my experience from 2014 the photos are either official race photos I have purchased or amateur photos taken by my family who were my support crew on the day.

What was I thinking?

What was I thinking?

I am often asked what I think about when I run for so long.  What I think about during a race such as the 100km World Championships and what I think about on a training run differ.  For a bit of fun prompted by my cousin Jakki Dodds and an image she posted and tagged me in I thought I would document some of what I thought about while I ran on this occasion. A link to my activity on Garmin Connect can be found here.  See if you can work out where I was for each thought.

  1. What’s the time, 7:30am, I’m just going to miss the ferry to cross the river.
  2. Yep there it is, is it leaving? Damn the deckhand is pulling up that gangplank thingy, yep too late. Oh well, I’ll just run down the road and back the next one will only be about 10 minutes.
  3. Actually I always run down the road and back maybe today I will run around the block.
  4. Look house for sale, it’s sold I wonder how much that one sold for. I like that Queenslander it looks like a big one compared to the others.
  5. I wonder if the next ferry will be there when I get back.
  6. Yep there it is. Cool I can walk straight on.
  7. C’mon ferry driver lets go already, okay good we’re moving.
  8. Across the river now hmmm looks like there’s rain coming, good that will cool things down a bit.
  9. Got a wolf whistle woohoo, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t meant for that cyclist.
  10. C’mon that’s not rain I want a proper shower damn it.
  11. Oh well at least my socks aren’t soggy and it’s still kind of cool.
  12. I need to go to the toilet shall I use the one on the New Farm park ring road or the ferry terminal one.
  13. Ferry terminal one, that one’s nicer
  14. Look at that sign it reads “Thanks for noticing this notice, your noticing has been noted”
  15. I wonder how many people have noticed that sign I might post that later, shame I haven’t got my phone to take a photo.
  16. I must take a photo of that sometime.
  17. Damn I’ve been running for 45 minutes and I am only supposed to be running for 60 minutes today and I just want to keep running and it’s going to take me way longer than that to run home.
  18. What’s that guy doing he has a clipboard and it looked like he checked me off.  I wonder if he is surveying how many people use the Riverwalk.
  19. I wonder how many people do use the Riverwalk, there’s hardly anyone on here right now.  I wonder if it was busier earlier.
  20. Maybe I should catch the ferry from Riverside.
  21. No I would rather run I don’t want to wait for the ferry and then sit on the ferry all sweaty for that long and then I will have to run or walk home from Hawthorne.
  22. Shall I run over the Goodwill Bridge that will make this run really long, but I could catch the ferry at Southbank, nah.
  23. I will just run over the Story Bridge but that hill is so steep.
  24. This hill isn’t that bad, I wonder how much this slow jog up the hill will affect my overall pace.
  25. Is the western side path on the Story Bridge open?
  26. Nope that sign says it’s closed until early November, noted.
  27. I wonder if I should catch the ferry from Mowbray Park.
  28. There’s no sign of the ferry I am going to be well over my 60 minutes now I may as well just run the last few kilometres home.
  29. Wow the traffic is still pretty bad on Wynnum Rd. I must tell Tim if he is home in case he is thinking of driving into the city.
  30. Woohoo a red light I am going to overtake that truck stopped at the lights,
  31. Damn lights changed before I could get in front of it so he could see me.
  32. Last hill this isn’t so bad I feel good I could just keep running but I will be glad to get to the top of the hill.
  33. How far have I gone, crikey almost 18 kilometres whoops this run should have been about 12km.
  34. There’s Kira’s school I wonder what class she has right now.
  35. Should I get a coffee at the Hawthorne Garage, I’m not sure if I really feel like a coffee, yeah why not.
  36. I hope the line for coffee isn’t too long.
  37. Is that car going to stop at the crosswalk for me? Nope but that one did phew.
  38. I will stop the Garmin now and walk to the Hawthorne Garage for a coffee it doesn’t look like there is much of a line for coffee 18.5km is a nice number to finish on.

Feature image courtesy of The Oatmeal.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 2.53.10 pm
Cartoon courtesy of The Oatmeal. I obviously have a more optimistic thought process. While my demons occasionally torment me it’s a rare occurrence.