By signing up for the TMBT 100 km ultra marathon, purchasing flight and hotel accommodations 9 months in advance, I solidified a goal for myself. No backing out! I am excited by the challenge and I’m looking forward to the experience. But from the testimonies of those who do such things, I’m likely to come face-to-face with some deep soul searching while ascending some unmerciful ravine slope somewhere around 1:00 or 2:00 am after having been on my feet for the past 17 hours. They say you learn things about yourself you never new existed. While I’ve run a few marathons, I don’t know much about ultra training, so I’ve tried to read up on and research as many resources as I can. I’ve joined several Facebook pages: iRunFar.com, Ultra Running, and Ultra-Running Singapore. I joined Runners Connect for weekly running tips and interesting podcast interviews. After attending Malaysia's most renowned ultra runner, Seow Kong Ng's barefoot running clinic in Penang, I've followed his ultra exploits which reads like an ultimate running world travelogue – Mt. Fuji 100, Inca Trail marathon to Machu Picchu, Chiang Mai 24 hr run, Sakura Michi International Nature Run 250 km. During last weekend's LSD I was entertained by the details of a local running friend's recounting of his previous week's 87 km adventure at Comrades in South Africa.http://francisyeng.blogspot.com/ In my mind, I’m ready to be on the starting line of Badwater, Mount Everest Marathon, or the creme-de-la-creme, Marathon de Sables – a 6 day 250 km trek across the Sahara.
Yea, I’m there, ready to burst into the ultra running world and never look back. I’ve got this! I’m going to tour the world’s most fascinating destinations via ultra and adventure running. I’ve discovered my new passion in life.
Then reality sets in. I’m 47. I have a wife, 2 kids, a dog, a day job, and limited financial resources. Unfortunately I don’t seem to be blessed with an unusually high percentage of long-fiber/slow twitch muscle tissue, so there is no chance of winning prize money or a sponsor. From what I read, ultra training is measured in years not months. Training is more than just time and miles on your feet. There is recovery, nutrition, sleep, essential vitamins and minerals needed to keep the body fit and muscles rejuvenating. Then there is the most dreaded inevitability of INJURY which can wreak havoc with training and mental preparation. Yes, this last one is what hit me recently, though only a minor inflamed tendon issue in my right forefoot, it is enough of a pain and annoyance to cut back significantly on my LSDs the past 2 weeks. I would rather rest now and let it heal than aggravate it and make a small issue into something big. So the past couple of weeks I have put in fewer hours of training and more time on recovery.
I have also added Chai seeds to my diet for their Omega 3 and other nutrients, as well as the hydration benefits for long runs with their gel pockets. (They are great with yogurt and fruit.) Magnesium supplements are also a necessity. Most athletes are not getting enough magnesium and it acts as the lubricant to getting all the other vitamins and nutrients to the muscles fibers and is most essential for reducing muscle cramping.
Of course there is the obligatory whey-protein shake 15 minutes post hard workout to help muscles repair more quickly, and a good healthy meal to follow.
Spinach and green leafy vegetables are increased to add iron and natural vitamins.
I’m experimenting with a spoon of coconut oil a couple of times a day, Manuka honey, and squeezing an extra lime in my morning cup of orange juice for increased vitamin C. I’ve also started taking a Yoga class to help learn deep diaphragm breathing and to improve core strength and flexibility in addition to its meditative relaxation qualities.
Even if I don’t make it to the starting line of Badwater or the Mt. Everest Marathon, ultra running training is already transforming me into a more holistically healthy person. These little things will aid in recovery and keep the body at optimal performance level, but the key to success will be quality training time on the road, hills, and trails!