So 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.