Ultra Marathon Training and Travel

Last year, I ran the North Face Endurance Challenge Championship 50 Mile. This was my first 50 mile race. My first race longer than a 50k. I ran into the unknown and I was able to find my way to the finish line in a fashion that thrilled me. It was an amazing experience…transformative really. I was so moved that I signed up to run the 2016 edition as soon as registration was open.

Fast forward to today. It is less than two months until race day and I have just recently learned that I will be traveling four times (FOUR!) between now and the race. All four trips are work related. Not vacations. And I return from one of the trips the day BEFORE the 50 miler.

Yes, I did freak out when I realized this. Yes, I have since calmed down…a little.

So, how do I continue my training when I am going to be away from my gym and my trails and my home for such a huge amount of time right before a race?

The short answer? I don’t know.

I have never done this before. I have never traveled so much in a two month period in my life. I have never had to shoehorn training into life in such a desperate and unknown manner.

How am I going to do a four-hour trail run in a city I’ve never run in before? How am I going to drag myself to the hotel gym for a treadmill session and still be “at work” by 6am? How am I going to maintain my eating regimen when I am away from my grocery store, my kitchen, my normal food?

Hotel food? Yikes! I shudder at the thought of steam table eggs and mountains of empty carbs.

Sleep will be lost.

Weight will be lost…or gained.

And my race will probably suffer for it. The stress, the travel, the discomfort of being away from my usual training environment WILL have an effect. I cannot deny it or pretend it’ll be okay. Sleeping in strange beds, eating strange food, and being on my feet for 14 hour days seems unlikely to improve my race results.

But, the thing I can most maintain in the midst of all this chaos is a positive attitude. I must remind myself that I run because I love it. I love the mud, I love the hills, I love the challenge, the distance, the gravity of 50 miles passing below my feet one step at a time. This is my idea of fun and if I embrace it, nothing else matters.

I will survive. I will make it to the starting line. And I WILL make it to the finish line.

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