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    Ultra Lessons

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    Running an ultramarathon is a daunting challenge. Chances are, though, if you’re a rower free of injuries, you can handle it.

    In 2015, I participated in the Grant-Pierce indoor 50K ultramarathon. The race was my first foray into ultras, and it was a perfect way to get a taste. Since it was indoors, the conditions were controlled, and since it was on a track, the course was flat. Better yet, throughout the race, we had access to a bathroom with running water!

    That being said, the race wasn’t all fluorescent lights and rainbows. After about two hours of running around the track, I realized that running in circles constantly puts excessive pressure on your inside ankle. It wasn’t the worst disaster I’ve experienced in an ultra, but it was unexpected and caused me to start down a path of negative self-talk. 

    Such things are what you have to watch out for when preparing for a race that’s nearly impossible to replicate while training. When they compound over multiple hours, they can be race-enders. 

    My recommendation: Accept that there will be problems during an ultra and do your best to minimize them. This is something you can practice during training, and it will help in not only prepping for an ultra but also rowing. Who hasn’t had an unexpected cramp during a 6K test? 

    The workout:

    Hope for the best; plan for the worst.  During a long training run (20 plus miles, if preparing for an ultra), visualize how you’ll respond to an unanticipated problem. If you’re dehydrated, what steps will you take to rehydrate and get back into the fight? If your equipment fails, do you have a crew following with backup gear? What else might go wrong? 

    By visualizing potential tough spots, you’ll be not only better prepared but also more likely to regard hiccups not as failures but as inevitable bumps in the road. During a long race, this will benefit your psyche.

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