Blog by Dalene van Staden
In the final weeks of preparation for Ultra-Trail Drakensberg this month, Altra ambassador, Dalene van Staden, asked some of her Altra teammates for some tried and tested 100 miler advice and tips.
This is what they had to say…
Training and Preparation
Photo credit: Alfred Thorpe
1. Actually do some training. Running 100miles is hard enough without being unfit!
2. Train on similar terrain to what the race will be on. Karkloof you can do all your running on the road if you want. But that’s not going to work out for UTD 100miler or the new UTCT 100miler.
3. Medium length (35km & 25km) back-to-back runs for training. Runs longer than this are taxing on the body, and you usually need a few days to recover. This strategy of medium length back-to-back runs isn’t too hard on the body and allows you to train again much quicker.
4. Train in the heat: i.e., midday runs for Addo or Karkloof prep.
5. Train in the dark: Practice with your headlamp and ensure that your equipment is 100% ready for a long night by yourself (if needed). Ensure you get new batteries in the head lamp.
Photo credit: Marzelle van der Merwe for Ultra Trail Drakensberg
1. Start slow. It is always better to pass people than be passed, so try have some reserves left for the end.
2. You eat an elephant by taking small bites at a time. Focus on sections of the event at a time and not the whole event.Run aid station to aid station or break it into 5km blocks. It helps to carry an aid station distance chart with you in the race.
3. Making different strategies for different times of the race is another way to break up the race into segments. So just before it gets dark, have a reminder that, as soon as the headlamp goes on, you chase hard for 3hours.... Then for 3 hours focus on that. Same with midnight, you might say at midnight until sunrise your goal is to move, no stopping for long durations, just shuffle until sunrise. Then when sunrise comes you have another strategy etc.
4. Just eat. There will come a time in a race where you won’t be able to get anything down and you’ll be happy you managed to eat before that.
5. Take care of your feet! If a tiny stone has managed to sneak into your shoe, stop and take it out. Small irritations over a long time can lead to hotspots and blisters. Extra shoes and socks in drop bags are also good to have in case your current pair lets you down.
6. Comfy shoes. But also find a pair of shoes that are comfortable to hike/walk in. Unless absolutely everything goes to plan you will find yourself walking for hours on end. So may as well be in a good walking shoe.
7. Walk with purpose when you do walk.
8. Lube everything. EVERYTHING! And don’t share (unless you must).
Smile, for yourself, the trail, and the cameraman. Be grateful to the spectators and the aid station crew.
9. Team-up with other runners during the night. The light of a couple of headlamps helps a lot more than just following your own little spot of light on the ground, also the stories and chatting can make the night fly by.
10. If you have a pacer, get your pacer to constantly ask if you are eating and drinking. If you don’t have a pacer set an alarm every hour to eat something.
11. Don’t waste time at aid stations. Get in and out quickly and keep moving.
12. But finally, you must know that before it gets any better it’s gonna get a lot worse!