Friday, February 24, 2017

Breaking Through Pre-race Jitters

My pre-race jitters before UTMB felt as massive as the Alps.

Like many athletes, I get my fare share of pre-race jitters. Judging by the number of articles on this issue, there's a real war on event anxiety going on.

Let's face it: your body is not an idiot. The race course seems to have an insane amount of distance and elevation. It's not going to be easy, and everyone knows it.

If you feel powerless against mighty mountains, realize your fears are like ripples on the surface of a lake.

Deep down the water remains cool and calm. Take challenges as a chance to explore your possibilities.

Ultras are 90% mental, and the rest is up to your head. A scared mind can play dirty tricks on you.

I believe The Barkley Marathons RD Lazarus Lake calls this phenomenon Quitter's Talk. Get over it.

Some of my best performances have occurred after horrible (but hilarious in hindsight) preludes. When you break through threatening obstacles, that's when you really grow.

Listen to your body, but don't believe all your thoughts. Don't worry too much. The pre-race jitters will soon pass after the start. Focus on executing your race plan and have fun out there.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

10 Easy Tricks to Suffer More in Ultratrail Running Races

80km du Mont Blanc in Chamonix provides a lot of suffering for such a short distance.

Let's not kid ourselves. We ultratrail runners like to suffer. Why else would we bother racing at all? There's not that much money and fame for the champions in our sport - let alone midpackers.

Not only do we love races, but we tend to choose the longest, highest and toughest courses with the most elevation gain. Race organisers almost boast how extreme their event is.

We love tough challenges. Races are the ultimate sufferfests. They draw us like a light moths. Why is that?

Maybe suffering leads to clarity and some sort of illumination or happiness. Looking back, those hardest spots often seem like the best parts of your life.

These guys are still grinning after suffering 200K in mostly terrible weather (Irontrail 2016).

So here they are - my ten tried and tested easy tricks to suffer even more in your next ultrarunning event:

1. Arrive at your destination as late as possible. No need to recover from the travelling or acclimatize to the altitude. Sightseeing is absolutely unnecessary.

2. Minimize sleep the night before the start. Stay nervous, check you gear all night long and repack your backpack.

3. Race injured or sick. Never give up no matter what. If you DNF once, you'll always DNF.

4. Start the race too fast. Stay above your comfortable threshold even if it makes you throw up.

5. Get lost. Take the wrong way and keep going forward when you don't see any route markings. Never study maps of the race course.

6. Take yourself very seriously. Stare at your GPS watch. Never chat or joke with fellow competitors. Don't shoot any photos or videos.

7. Hurry through aid stations. Time spent on eating local goodies is wasted. Forget to fill in your bottles. No need to thank the volunteers.

8. Don't stop for anything. Fail to remove debris from your shoes or take care of your feet. Whose afraid of blisters? Never nap. Run past those who show any weakness and might need help.

9. Fall down. Go faster than you are capable of. Run a technical course like it was a track. Trip and face plant. Act like it doesn't hurt at all. Don't seek medical help.

10. Use cheap gear - or no gear at all. Why pay extra for quality. Poles and waterproof pants are for losers.

Tip: use minimal low-quality gear and don't prepare for stormy weather (Eiger Ultra Trail).