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Preparing for ultra trail

July 7, 2009

Preparing for an ultra trail race there are a few things you need to consider.

First: staying healthy and injury free. Getting enough rest and sleep. Getting high quality nutrition and enough calories. Drinking plenty of liquids, not forgetting adding the minerals. And there are ways to avoid injuries during training by variation. In my case I need to change some running sessions to biking, swimming and strenght exercises like squats and running stairs – to save my legs from the pounding. Ideally this is the way I always should do my training. Because I want to run even when I’m 60, participating in ultra marathons – just like Marco Olmo, 61. “The Runner – One step beyond” is the movie about him due to be released in august 09. As I have written here before he is truly inspirational, still competing on top level in ultra trail races, winning the UTMB as recently as 2006 and 2007.

Fixing the feet is very important preparing for a long race. You want to have soft skin to avoid deep, painful blisters. At least 2 weeks before race day you need to start to get rid of the calluses. Best way is by using a cream for hard skin (Scholl has one) 2 times daily (rub it into the skin) and work the calluses just a little with a smoothe foot file. But be careful with the file, if you overdo it the skin will protect itself by growing thicker. Before the race you also need to get a good anti-chaffing cream, like Sportslick, which will prevent blisters. Apply plenty between the toes, under forefoot and the heel. If you have special problems talk to staff in special stores (like Scholl) or even better book a session at the foot care specialist.

Chosing the right socks is also crucial for chaffing and blister prevention. Generally  a thicker sock gives better padding and protection, like Smartwool PhD Trail Running, or if you want to avoid debris in your shoes – why not a sock with integreted gaiter, like Inov-8 Debrisoc.

Chosing the right shoe for an ultra trail:

1. You want room for your toes, so not too narrow
2. Not too heavy, rather lightweight, protective & stable (with enough cushioning)
3. Big enough to allow some swelling (at least half a size bigger)
4. Enough outsole pattern for wet conditions
5. Extra benefits with a fast drying shoe with quick lace
Check out the race website and mandatory equipment list. Experiment with lightweight gear alternatives for hydration system etc. and try out your race food & drinks during long training sessions. Many times experienced runners have lots of good advise on their blogs / websites. Here are a few:

Anton Krupicka’s blog

Scott Jurek’s blog

Kilian Jornet’s blog

Matt Carpenter’s blog

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