Endurance races can be both physically and mentally challenging. Ultra-runner Lucy Bartholomew, talks us through training, preparation and motivation for a long-distance event.
Q. What should I eat?
Pre-race you need lots of longer lasting energy foods to keep you full from the start. It’s a good idea to eat a nutrient dense breakfast at least two hours before start time – I like peanut butter and banana on toast. You can also try fuel that contains more of a filling and sustainable carbohydrate such as oats to fill your stomach – it will keep your engine running for a couple of hours. Energy gels and Shot Bloks give the body quick and easily digestible energy during the race. Post-race is just about anything for me. My all-time favourite is nachos or a good pizza.
Q. How do I keep motivated?
Beak the distance down into check points and just focus on getting from one to another. If you start to feel desperate, look for people on the course or trees to run and walk to. Ultra marathons are all in the head; it’s about being mentally strong and motivated. To pass the time and keep your mind off running, do a form check – start at your toes and work your way up, focusing on your muscles and feelings. This is really beneficial as you can adapt your running form to release pain or unnecessary strain on muscles – reducing injury risk.
Q. How should I prepare?
Long runs are great for teaching you to pace yourself. Start at a slower pace and build up to finish at faster than race pace. You can start as short as 30 minutes and then build up if you want to run longer and longer.
Fartlek training is one of my favourites – it’s simple unstructured speed work and fun to do on a single track trail. Simply pick a point (a tree or a gate) and run hard to it. Ease off the pace once you’ve reached it. Recover, choose another point and go hard again. It’s a really fun way to train fast.
Try core training 3-4 times a week. It’s easy and you can even do it in your living room. Do 20 minutes of planks, sit ups, hip bridges, crunches, bicycles and V sits. You’ll really notice the positive impact on your posture once you start doing it.
Q. Is it important to rest?
Yes! Your body needs to rest physically and mentally so that when you are training you can push hard. It’s very common for Ultra runners to overlook the need for a rest day, but this is the day that makes you strongest. Rest and recover as well as you would train. Running uses everything in the body – it’s pretty amazing, but don’t forget to listen to your body and nourish it.
Q. Which other activities can help with my training?
Swim once a week on your rest days – it’s a low impact workout and moves the muscles around in a different way. You can also try Pilates 1-2 times a week to stretch and build strength in the muscles.
Q. What should I wear?
I’m proud to be a female Ultra-runner and love to wear skirts which are light, comfy and look super cool. I suggest a slab tank on top – they’re light weight, comfy and get rid of sweat quickly. It’s also important in Ultra running to have happy feat. Try Injinji socks – they prevent blisters and rubbing. I wear Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 shoes on trails. They are a minimal shoe with good grip on the soles for the more technical trails and fit my feet nicely.
Lucy Bartholomew (19) is an Ambassador for Australian Adventure Festivals and the 2014 Junior World Champion in the Skyrunning World Championship.