Making a commitment to ultra running

It’s now day 3 of my sickness-enforced rest. I am starting to feel much better and will probably head out tomorrow morning for a light jog to get my body moving again before the Tre-X off-road duathlon on Sunday.

Today I have used my rest day to evaluate my 2012-13 season goals. Over the past few weeks since the Oxfam Trailwalker Brisbane I have been thinking about how much I would like to complete a 100km trail run and work up to a 100 miler. My 100km bicycle ride on Saturday and meeting with the team I am support crewing for at the Kokoda Challenge 96km walk only increased my thirst for endurance events.

I started searching the internet to find trail runs in Australia and found there are a huge selection of exciting events to chose from. We have everything from the 3 Marathons in 3 Days event in tropical Cairns to a wide selection of alpine and beach ultras, including the famous 6 Foot Track and North Face 100. I felt rather like a kid in a candy store as I trawled through pages and pages of trail running options, most of which were ultras.

I subscribe to the online Trail Runner Magazine and every time I get a new issue I start to long for the trail. I am drawn by the freedom of single track mountain trails and long miles of beach stretching out in front of me.

I am not a fast runner. In fact, I am not even passionate about the act of running. I have not run a road marathon and the thought of doing so doesn’t entice me. But I like to explore. I like the simplicity of exploring on foot. I like the friendly social atmosphere of trail running. And I love how it feels when I find my running zone. My favourite thing about trail running ultras is that the sport is still young enough in Australia that it’s acceptable to ‘run-a-bit, walk-a-bit’ in many of the more low key events.

So today I made a commitment. I am going to work towards my 100km and 100 mile goals. And I am not going to wait until next season. Today I paid and entered the following events and set the following flexible goals:

  1. 12 August 2012 – Lake Manchester Trail Run (22km) – goal time < 2:45
  2. 14 October 2012 – Washpool World Heritage Trail Run (50km) – goal time < 8:00 – entered
  3. 9 December 2012 – Kurrawah to Duranbah Road Run (50km) – goal time < 6:00Β  – entered
  4. 21 April 2013 – Water World Red Rocks to Coffs (45km trail run) – goal time < 7:00Β  – entered

I based my goals on my results in the two half road half marathons (2:10 barefoot & 1:46 shod) I completed in January and March 2012, and my 7:32 for the 45km Rainbow Beach Trail Run in November 2011.

I have also scheduled other races for the coming season for which entries have not yet opened. I think the goals are realistic without forcing me to start training ridiculously hard. It just means that my weekend sessions will be more focused on endurance, whether running or cycling.

Here’s to backing myself. The 2012-13 season is going to be the year I become an ultra runner. And the year I qualify to enter a 100km event next year (most 100km events require entrants to have completed at least one 50km event in the previous 12 months but often don’t have time limits for those events).

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8 responses to “Making a commitment to ultra running

  1. Andrew, It seems you and I are indeed tracking along very similar paths. I have entered the Surfcoast Century this year in September. That will be my first 100. The organisers have not required participants to qualify to try to make it more inclusive for first timers. Your aims seems quite reasonable, though I have no idea how you can do barefoot running, my calves just don’t seem to like the forward posture as much.

    • Oh wow. The SurfCoast Century is high up on my 2013/14 season short list. I live up in Queensland so need to balance my desire to travel the country participating in events with the reality of my bank balance πŸ˜‰ … If only I would win the lotto πŸ˜€ . I will be running the trail runs in shoes … my feet aren’t tough enough to handle gravel. Though I will do the two beach runs on my list in bare feet because sand is manageable.

      I am looking forward to reading your Surf Coast Century review.

      The other run I really want to do is the Razor Ridge Run up at Feathertop. I want to do the 58km option … hopefully I can get down there for it next year. I love alpine running – it’s so far removed from what we have on option here in the subtropics that it’s totally novel.

    • I have decided to up my commitment too this year. I want to see if I can get a spot in the NorthFace 100 race for May 2013. I think entries will open in October or November (based on their website). My realistic goal will be to complete it in less than 24 hours with an ‘I smashed it goal’ of beating 20 hours.

  2. Wow, my hat is off to you! I have done a 25k trail race here in Pennsylvania twice, and my legs hurt so bad that I was unable to walk for a week. I’m always impressed by people who tackle the 50k+ distances on the trail, especially the 100 milers. Unreal! Best of luck to you, I will be following along.

    • G’day Brian πŸ™‚

      I think it depends a bit on how fast you run too. For me, short races and road marathons are scary and difficult because I feel pressure to run them quickly at my threshold. However, long distance trail events don’t have the same fear factor for me because I know that, for me, they are just about completing them – not pushing myself at my aerobic threshold. So, for example, while I try to run road events up to half marathon at 4:40 – 5:40 min/km pace (depending on the event), I am only hoping to run the long distance events at 7:00 – 8:30 min/km pace. That feels less scary to me πŸ˜‰

      I think it also depends on your body too. Mine likes long days in motion but hates short sharp and fast. I must have a lot of slow twitch fibres. And I have a high Hb count so my blood is very thick. Maybe that helps with long distance events … I don’t actually know but it would be interesting to find out.

      • that would be interesting to see. I used to be an 800m runner, so moving up to the marathon for me is like moving up to an ultra. I can’t fathom going further…at least not yet

  3. Andrew,

    Awesome stuff! I love the ultramarathon goals to run a 100K and 100 Miler. Running trails is much different than running roads. Trails are more enjoyable and more addicting.

    • Thanks Dallan πŸ™‚ Yeah – I much prefer trail running. It comes more naturally for me. πŸ™‚ I’m totally excited about the season ahead … I just can’t wait.

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