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Tag: Running tips

Pine Creek Challenge 100 – Friends make all the difference

I have figured out the formula for finishing a 100-mile race. Pine Creek is the 3rd time I have completed the 100 mile distance. The key to all 3 finishes was one underlying theme. Surround yourself with incredible people! I know that’s not easy, and it can be total luck. Don’t get me wrong, there is lots of training you need to do, but that is just a matter of putting in the miles. If you can make friends with complete strangers on the course, find an incredible pacer, or put together a great support crew, you greatly increase the odds of finishing. I have been lucky enough those things happen each time. You are going to be battling your thoughts in the race. Having somebody there to talk with eases the pain. They are there to help push the pace or slow things down if you’re going too fast.

Why is it that in an ultra can you make friends with complete strangers? Is it the fact that you are facing a common goal and you both want to succeed? You create an instant bond because of the shared suffering. So the biggest thing I did RIGHT was to make new friends. It has helped me EVERY SINGLE time in a race, except for Vermont 100 where I was gifted the ultimate pacer by chance.

The other thing I really liked about this race was having a pace chart handy. From this point out, if it is a 100-mile race, it is critical to have every single detail of your race in an easy-to-look at Excel-like grid that is laminated. I am going to create one of these cards for every race at this distance.

Race charts like this make you feel like you are actually making progress in a 100-mile race. Somehow, Michelle, had the entire thing memorized!

The other benefit of running with a friend is you hear about new podcasts and books that are worth checking out. You learn about books and podcasts that might interest you and would never be exposed to. You hear about the most impactful material that is in that person’s life.

Michelle, Amy, and myself at mile 50.

I wouldn’t say I helped Michelle as much as she helped me. We completed it together. In my first hundred, 2 people stayed with me to get me to the finish. I remembered how much of a difference that made to have people to chat with. It helps with your mental state and I couldn’t imagine doing it alone. It was nice to go through the night with someone on their journey.

I am 100% sure Michelle was more than able to have completed it alone, but she was also kind enough to share the experience. Having someone to run the race with also keeps you honest about the pace. We would take turns alternating between a run-walk when combo in the later miles to keep under our pace target. It’s one thing to run 100 miles on your own, but an experience shared is so much more enjoyable.

Some of the things that I would say went wrong in the race were little slip-ups.
I skipped a shoe/sock change at mile 30-40 miles. There was gravel and dust that was getting in the top part of my socks that started to cause a rash. I should have cleaned and swapped socks sooner to prevent that. I also didn’t have enough caffeine intake later in the race and I was struggling to keep my eyes open. I finally got a cup of coffee at mile 90 and it made a huge difference. Maybe I can bring my own instant coffee?

I should have had a drop bag at BOTH aid stations, not just the Blackwell. There is something about having access to YOUR stuff that gives ease of mind. Something in the bag you can look forward to that is not at the aid stations. I struggle with knowing what to put in each bag so I opted to put it all in one, which really didn’t work out.

I ran out of water between the longer aid stations, be mindful of a hot hundred and ONLY using handhelds, they actually might not be able to hold enough water if it’s greater than 8 miles between aid stations. I am just grateful the weather wasn’t too intense that day.

What would I have done differently? Not too much, my feet took a beating and I am glad I went with the shoes that I did. I switched out 2 pairs of Altra Torin 5s which felt great and caused zero hot spots. 100s can be extremely lonely, and if you get lucky enough to find a person running a similar pace it is worth staying together. You motivate each other to push when the pain can be unbearable. If I had to do anything different I would have lowered my expectations of a finish time when on a new course.

How would you know what to expect? My “A” goal I realized was going to be almost impossible to hit. My “B” goal was under 24 which I achieved. My “C” goal is to make friends and have fun, but my “C” goal was actually the most important goal. I am GRATEFUL for the experience and will be smiling for the next few weeks with the wonderful memories replaying in my mind. I still feel new to the 100-mile distance and feel like I have a lot to learn. Finally, don’t put your number on your shirt, I was an idiot and switched shirts and forgot to move my number. It should always be on your pants! How could I forget that!

Michelle Goldberg and myself right after the finish.

Final thoughts: I should have never told people it’s going to be easy because it was all flat. I completely underestimated the distance and the terrain. The course was beautiful as you can see from the photos. Would I do the race again? I am not sure… I think I enjoy a more rocky and technical terrain over the endless flat roads. It was great, don’t get me wrong, but I enjoy an actual hill every now and then.

More videos and photos can be found here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/eA6UWL9FSdMsfC1F6

Loopy Looper 2021 – Mistakes you do not want to make in your looped Ultra race.

Loopy Looper - Patrick Durante
Photo Credit: Glassjar Productions
Loopy Looper 2021 – Photo Cred: Glassjar Productions

Recap of my race of the Loopy Looper 12 hour event at Cooper River Park in Pennsauken, New Jersey. The reviews consist of 3 topics, what went right, what went wrong, and what I would do differently. I call it the RWD race review.

right:
1) Brought lots of ice to the event in a cooler so I could soak drinks and towels.
2) This race was the closest I ever came to dropping. Taking in some salt and just waiting until I recovered save me from a decision I would have regretted for eternity. I took in food, talked with some people, and tried to regain my reason to get back out there once my initial goals had failed. Thank god the guy working medical at the event gave me some S-caps.
3) Bringing a chair for my air station. I would also have brought something to be in the shade. The sun was VERY intense.

wrong:
1) I didn’t realize how much the weather would affect me and I blindly followed a plan without accounting for the weather.
2) I didn’t put ANY sunscreen on so my body didn’t deflect any of that heat and it made my body work harder than it needed to.
3) Food strategy didn’t work, I didn’t like what I brought and ended up NOT eating it. It didn’t have enough salt in it. I didn’t eat enough at their aid stations.
4) Small pop-up tent would have been useful for my aid station, but unsure if its worth the investment. GET TO RACE EARLY AND GO TO SHADE UNDER TREES!

Differently:
Take salt, start PAINFULLY SLOW.
Racing in the heat = PAINFULLY SLOW START WITH NO RECORDS being broken. We all enter a race with a preconceived plan, but it’s our EGO that keeps us going on a path that might be a mistake.
Better food intake with MORE salt on a hot day.
I have had hot races before and I should have started painfully slow. Remember 2019 Vermont? I don’t care what pace other runners are going, just worry about yourself and what feels right. Have more than 2 shoes to rotate! I only had 2 road shoes and wish I had more and one with MORE cushion. I picked up a pair of Altra Torin 5’s to try out for the next 100-mile race. No negative thoughts. Stop asking people how they feel when you run with or by them. What do you really think they are going to say? Most will just complain about something and bring negativity into the race.

Don’t invite the devil inside your house by talking or thinking negatively.

-Patrick

Final Thoughts: This race was run in direct sunlight/heat, and I didn’t manage my pace and salt intake properly. I didn’t have any S-caps and I didn’t realize how much the heat would affect me with lack of taking in salty foods. It started with water building in my stomach that I could feel sloshing around. Once that started to happen I didn’t feel like eating. I made it back to the start and waiting until I felt better. All I could think about was dropping from the race. I had 2 chewable S caps and waited. It was like somebody switched off the pain/suffering. I knew that If I dropped from the race I would regret it for a long time.

The pain cave was SO bad that I almost quit. Using the sit and wait before you make any big decisions worked well. It gives you time to regain your thoughts.

Would you do the race again? I am unsure how I feel about the course and looped races in general. I need to get over this failure first before I can come to a decision. I might take one more crack at this race before I give up looped races. Overall it wasn’t that bad of a result. I still made it for 52.5 miles.

Useful tips and quotes for running

Here are some useful running tips from the professionals I have heard over the past year.  The majority of them were taken from Trail Runner Nation or some other podcast that I have downloaded.

  • Training
    • If you wake up and you don’t have spring in your legs you shouldn’t be doing anything fast.
    • Stomach can only process 300 calories and hour but you burn 1000(this varies per person).
      • Carbohydrate is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver. You can store about 400g of glycogen in your muscles, and about 100g in your liver (though, as we shall see, these can be increased with training). This means you can store about 2000 kcal as glycogen – enough energy to run or walk about 20 miles.
      • You need to learn to burn fat as an energy source. Getting your body to burn fat means you won’t hit “the wall”, or it comes a lot later.
    • Training is 80 low intensity or aerobic and 20 high intensity or anaerobic.
    • Learn to love other things besides running.

      • Choose cross training so you work other areas of your body.
      • Bike, swim, or do the elliptical machine, that’s the secret to keep you running for years.
    • Every run should have a purpose.
      • Tempo
      • Speed play
      • Fun run
      • VO2Max or the newer VVo2Max
      • Interval
      • Long Run
      • Hill Repeats
    • Follow another person’s training plan who has completed what you want to accomplish. This will give you mental confidence in knowing someone else has completed the distance/race following the same plan.  
    • H.I.T.T causes your body to make adaptions with running at a faster pace.
    • Most pros are running high mileage, I.E. 100 miles per week.  The more you run it will develop a rhythm.  The more you practice something the less you need to think about performing the action.  If you can perform the action with greater ease then there is less mental effort.  It takes time for our bodies to adapt so it needs to be gradual.  The more mileage you do the more your body is forced to adapt.
    • Running long distance is like flying a plane.  You are constantly checking all the nobs and making little modifications.  Keep asking yourself:
      • Am I too hot or cold?
      • Am I eating enough?
      • Am I running the downhills too fast?
      • Did I take enough salt tabs?
      • Is my effort sustainable?
  • Race Day
    • There is a 20 percent boost in performance when running with a person vs running alone. Try to stick with somebody in a race that runs a similar pace.
      • You still need to run your own race, but it is mentally easier to follow than lead in a race.
    • Go into each race expecting it to hurt. Mentally prepare yourself for the pain but know it is finite.  It makes it easier to accept.
    • Don’t run out of your shoes the first time doing a new race distance. Just get it done so you know what it will be like for next time. Smile.  It will be a long day if you are hating life.
    • After every race write down 3 things
      • 3 things done right.
      • 3 things done wrong.
      • 3 things you would do differently next time.
    • Run your first mile at the pace you would like to run your last mile.
      • Run a pace that you can maintain.  This is crucial in marathon distance or higher.
    • Perform a mind map the day before a race.
      • Close your eyes for 20 minutes and picture the finish line.  Think about all of the positives in the race and the worst things that could happen.  How would you handle those situations?  If you do the mental training you will require less energy if something happens on the run.
  • Running Form
    • Lean like you are trying to give somebody a kiss. This causes you to lean from the ankles not the waist.
    • There’s a hand foot connection. Don’t extend far out in front of you. Your hand should track from your hip to your chest and close to the torso, but not across it.
    • Use the big muscle groups to run. They heal quicker and can not be injured as easy, I.E. Run from the glutes / hips since they are less likely to be damaged.
    • Strengthen the foot muscles to avoid injury.
      • Spend more time barefoot and do quick squats and leg exercises throughout the day.
    • Stand tall when running.  Don’t slouch.  Remember to check your posture if it is late in the race.  Extend your arms high above your head as a way of confirming you are not slouching.  Don’t drop your chin.
    • Elbows shouldn’t come past the hips. Most runners have too much arm swing which causes over striding.
    • Fix your form and keep it strong late in the race.
      • You will have a better time and not have to work as hard to run.
    • Run with a breathing pattern
      • Every foot strike is linked to either inhale or exhale.  Follow the orders below.
        • SLOW PACE – 3 inhale -2 exhale
        • FACE PACE – 2 inhale – 1 exhale
  • Sleep and Rest
    • Waking up multiple times over the night is not normal. Even if you drink a large amount of water you should not wake up. Your stress levels may be too high or could be dietary issues. Odds are this is the result of over training. Make sure you workout schedule is on a 3 week cycle so you get enough rest.
      • 3 weeks on / 1 week off for training cycle.
      • I noticed I have had bad nights sleeping after very stressful runs.
    • Your body will wake up when it is ready to wake up. You shouldn’t need an alarm clock to wake up.
      • This really isn’t possible when you have to work in the morning.  This could be saying that you need more sleep.  Enough that you would wake up naturally around the time your alarm goes off.
  • Motivational Quotes
    • Every person has a pain threshold.  Learn to push through it to achieve the next level of performance.
    • You are twice as fast as you think you are.
    • If you want something bad enough you will find a way to make it happen.
    • You’re only as good as your best day and your best day could be yet to come.
    • Thinking about how you will think— how you will react— when those highs and lows come along is a key to success in both racing and life.
    • If something scares you it means you are on the right path. Fear should be there as you are progressing.
    • “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”   – From the book Who Moved My Cheese
    • Find your carrot in life. There may be multiple, but chase the things that truly motivate you.
    • Choose either between the pain of suffering or the pain of regret.
    • Be someone who confronts structured suffering on a regular basis.
      • The fog of malaise will lift the more you do.
      • Make the pain and pleasure of self-progress your true lover.
      • Hunger/experience is what everybody is attracted to, you want to be one of the few actually going out to get it.
    • You never touch the physiological limit of our bodies we just hit the mental limit.
    • There’s nothing that separates you physically from other people who have achieved something great. They just didn’t let fear hold them back.  They are using either past experience or dedication to continue achieving great things. People who succeed the most at life are good problem solvers.  They know how to remain calm when they hit a road block, and that is what you need to learn.