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Trails and Ultras

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Trails and Ultras

Post  Julie on Mon Apr 09, 2012 11:24 am

I would like to eventually get more into ultras. I ran a road 50K but never a trail anything. I realize most ultras are on trails and that also means they take a lot longer to finish. So I am wondering how to work my way into running a trail 50K and possibly eventually a 50M. Just start heading to the trails for more of my long runs? I have the Relentless Forward Progress book and that is good, I'm just wondering how I will know if I prefer trails vs road or why any of you have chosen what ultras or types of ultras you run. Maybe I should start with a trail marathon or shorter distance?
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Re: Trails and Ultras

Post  mountandog on Mon Apr 09, 2012 11:25 am

I have much the same questions. Will be interested to see what the sage ones have to say.
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Re: Trails and Ultras

Post  Reina on Mon Apr 09, 2012 11:28 am

Me three ... as I'm starting to move that direction in my training/racing focus as well!

Thanks to all in advance!

--Reina
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Re: Trails and Ultras

Post  Mike MacLellan on Mon Apr 09, 2012 11:35 am

I've been told that you really only "need" to train on the type of terrain you'll race on once or twice a week. That said, I was doing ~5 runs/wk on trail (including all 3 [yes, 3, it was overkill!] long ones) and 3-5 on asphalt. I found that my pace on trails (read: mountains) was up to or more than a minute slower than on asphalt.
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Re: Trails and Ultras

Post  Julie on Mon Apr 09, 2012 11:50 am

So realistically if I went to the trails for my long run Sundays I might be OK?
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Re: Trails and Ultras

Post  wrichman on Mon Apr 09, 2012 1:47 pm

Short response: run on trails at least once a week if you can - long runs on trails are great and key to do for ultras.

Long response: It's always good to get some running experience on the type of terrain and surface you'll be racing on. However, that being said, when I did my first ultra - the Ice Age 50K, which is hilly dirt, grass trail with some technical parts - I had only run on hilly road and flat limestone (like the lakefront trail in Chicago). I did very well on the technical forest trails and adjusted easily - a 5:20 finish I think. Speed depends on the type of trail. There's flatter, crushed limestone trail that your pace may be a tiny bit slower (10-15 seconds/mile), and then there's rugged, hilly, dirt/grass trail that you pace will def. be at least a minute slower or more depending up how hilly the trail is. I think an important thing is to make sure you have a strong core and ankle strength - which running trails will help. After that 50K, which was a lot of roller coaster hills, I had a lot of pelvic stability problems b/c my core and pelvis were so jarred by the up/down/up/down. I couldn't run for almost 2 months afterwards, and had pelvic/lower abdominal pain for over a year, and ended up with Osetitis Pubis. NOT fun. This year I'm running the 50 mile version of this race. I did a 50k training run on part of the course a few weeks ago and it went very well (with no pelvic problems after). So I know all the core/pelvic stability work I've been doing over the past year has helped a lot. Just from past experience, my advice is to really make sure your entire core is strong before tackling really hilly/technical stuff.
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Re: Trails and Ultras

Post  Mike MacLellan on Mon Apr 09, 2012 2:01 pm

Julie - It really depends how hilly your goal race is. I found that by hitting some massive hills on those 3 long runs, I turned my quads into tree trunks and could beat pretty much any local runner up any hill in the area. However, my goal race was going to have over 10k' climbing. So... there's that. If your goal race isn't quite as mountainous, yes, I think your Sunday long run would be a good day to do that. You can practice your pacing, time on feet, and terrain acclimation all at once for a "race-like" experience.
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Re: Trails and Ultras

Post  Julie on Mon Apr 09, 2012 2:06 pm

I don't have a goal race in mind, but I can sure look for a non-mountainous one. Any suggestions? We have crushed limestone trails I could run to and more traily trails within easy driving distance.

ETA thanks for the core/stability tips! I can start doing Pilates again, among other things. That is definitely a weakness of mine.
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Re: Trails and Ultras

Post  wrichman on Mon Apr 09, 2012 2:19 pm

where do you live? how far do you want to travel?
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Re: Trails and Ultras

Post  Julie on Mon Apr 09, 2012 2:35 pm

I'm in Nebraska but I'm working on a 50 state goal so honestly if it were further away and we could make it a family vacation, that would be fine. So far I've done, ND, SD, NE, TX, IA, MN, WI, IL, FL, MO, KS but if it were a good race I'm willing to repeat a state. Montana or Wyoming or Oklahoma would definitely be more drivable than most I have left but if it were further away we could make the trip.
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Re: Trails and Ultras

Post  charles.moman on Mon Apr 09, 2012 2:48 pm

I am still very new to running and trail running, but . . . here are my thoughts.
I think the suggestion about core work is very good - for any running, but especially trail running.
Specificity in training is also quite wise.

My first ultra event was the Danville, IL "Howl at the Moon" and was a great introduction because of the ease of most of the route and the laid back atmosphere. I did the Tecumseh Trail marathon and it wiped me out because I had not been specific enough in training - not enough hills.

My first 50-miler is this summer in Michigan at the North Country event - Schuey is doing it too.
It is supposed to be a great event for first timers - 50 miles, full and half marathons.
No huge hills - all in the woods.
http://www.northcountryrun.com/index.html

I am not "fast" on any surface, but dirt roads and trails of any kind will slow most humans down.
Well, probably not Wendy and Tim, but they are competitive in any race they do.
I just like being outdoors, especially in the woods and I like the vibe at trail running events.
Many of the runners are like me - out for a good run in the woods and not overly worried about the time.
Don't misunderstand me - there are always some very serious runners at all of these events.
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Re: Trails and Ultras

Post  Julie on Mon Apr 09, 2012 2:57 pm

I'm not fast either, Charles. Thanks for the link, maybe that would be a good marathon for me to run to get me initiated in the trails?
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Re: Trails and Ultras

Post  T Miller on Mon Apr 09, 2012 4:35 pm

Thanks for the mention Charles. I think that you should try to make it to the trails as often as possible. For our recent ultra, we made it to the trails for our long run once every week or two. Also, it probably wouldn't hurt to do some shorter trail races before progressing up to ultra distances. It is a completely different atmosphere and quite enjoyable. Watch it, you'll probably fall in love with trail events and ultras. Smile
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Re: Trails and Ultras

Post  grennifer on Mon Apr 09, 2012 10:40 pm

I guess the only way to know is to try both.

I much prefer the trail. For me, I would much rather be running in nature than concrete jungles. Also, running on trails means less impact on knees and joints.

Sure, you may sacrifice on time, but it is all about the journey. Why not make it a more scenic one.

Go for the trails!

Greg
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