“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Thanks for simplifying it, Mike Tyson.
Physically preparing for 100 miles is simple. You run. A lot. More than you want to. When you want to, you run. When you don’t want to, you run. When you can’t run, you walk. You fit it in when you can, however you can. On lunch breaks, at o’ dark 30, after copious amounts of O’Charley’s rolls, in 0.2 mile loops around playgrounds. Your head converts time to miles. I sit in traffic and think… I’ve been in my car for 4 easy effort miles- aka 40 minutes. You stay on your feet as much as possible, always moving forward and with intention. Everything ties into training. You sleep to train. Eat to train. Relax to train. Recover so you can do it again and again. You learn to baby your body so it can handle the constant load. And it will, as long as you’re smart.
Long distance ultras make me feel really slow. 90% of my workouts are “zombie paced” runs. The pace I can sustain for hours and hours and hours. It is mind and body numbing, but it’s the price you pay when you know you’ll be running for 20 plus hours. I never feel lean and fit like I do when I’m training for a faster race. I don’t feel accomplished when I finish an easy effort. I hate it that I barely break a sweat sometimes. I love the adrenaline rushing through my muscles on a maximum effort workout. I want to push my limits and go until I can’t force it anymore. I love the fast benefits you get from that power you’re exerting. I want to see fast splits. It is so satisfying. I still get to feel this- in that itty bitty 10% window, but it always leaves me wanting more. At Compass Endurance Coaching, Josh and I always make sure our athletes understand the “why” behind not gutting out every run. We see it time and time again, that some people try to get by with going hard all the time. Some, much longer than others. But it catches up, and when it does- it’s pretty catastrophic on the long term running plan. So I tell myself this all the time. I explain to myself during every run, the “why”. I remind myself that I signed up for 100 miles, not a 5k.
Going back to Mike Tyson. The punch in the mouth… I’ve learned that during races, especially ultras, you have to plan that hypothetical (hopefully) punch more than anything. Yes, plan to get punched. Plan for it to hurt. Plan for it to knock you on your ass. Plan for it to make you quit. Plan for it to be unexpected. Plan for it to be repeated over and over and over. You can go into a race prepared, disciplined, positive and centered, and that is necessary too, but you have to plan for the punch. You will go dark. It will get ugly. And when it does- knowing that you expect it will take away some of the sting. It will get you through. You have to feel the lows to feel the highs. You have to go through the dark to get to the light. You have to let go of trying to control the circumstances you can’t and learn that as long as you keep progressing, those circumstances will change. You have to know exactly what you want, and understand that it won’t be all sunshine and rainbows and mf’ing balls of positivity. You have to remember that your emotions are liars. If you feel like you’re on top of the world, you’re not. If you feel like you’re in pure hell, you’re not. Shut down what you feel. Embrace what you know. Stay in a constant state of equanimity- where you’re calm and composed and calculated. If your coach tells you that you trained correctly, you did. Don’t question it. Head down and grind.
Coach Josh tells me I’m ready, I’m ready. I will have +/- 24 hours on February 2nd to repeat all of the above in my head, over and over and over. Almost game time!
– Rachel Groves