Deciding to complete or compete in a race of any distance can be a very taxing process, and much like life the more outlandish the race the more complicated the decision process becomes. I am writing this as a mini-guide to how I chose my 1st 100 mile trail race (Bighorn Trail 100 Mile) in hopes that it simplifies things for you. I figure you need about 1 minute per step, there are 7 of them. As always this is my warped thought process so utilize the steps that make sense and disregard the rest.
Step 1: Decide to run 100 miles.
For me this process was easy, I wanted to run 100 miles. Why you ask, why not! Word of advice disregard all commentary that ends in (xxxx’nt), such as “I wouldn’t do that, you shouldn’t do that, and you can’t do that.” The preceding statements are all crap and designed to deter you from achieving something meaningful!
Step 2: Choose a race.For this I say choose something that scares you, A LOT, so it motivates you to train and finish the race. One example of how a race could scare you would be, “I chose this race in Europe and it cost a ton of money to get here, if I come home with a DNF (Did Not Finish) my significant other will kill me in my sleep” ie… you will finish the race. Or in my case choose a race that is at altitude and has an elevation gain profile so big, I couldn’t specifically prepare for it, that’s scary! (ie.. Bighorn Trail 100 Mile)
|This is the elevation profile of the Bighorn 100 from JoeyLuther|
Step 3: Start running.This means you need to be healthy enough to consistently train (run). No weird aches or pains or anything broken. I don’t care what Karl says, a hundred miles is that far! To ensure I not only started running but kept running injury free I decided to get some assistance from a coach, which leads to #4.
|My Coach Ian Torrence|
Step 4: Get a coach!!!If this is your first hundred or the first one you want to race, I would highly suggest getting a coach. My advice in choosing a coach is, “Get one who is not afraid to argue with you!” What I mean by this is your coach first needs to be able to understand what your goals are and if they are realistic. Second, they need to be able to argue with you when you are acting crazy. You know you have found “your coach”, when you can have a heated argument/discussion 1 second, then be laughing with them the next. Really, it’s no different than a significant other. Also if your coach scares you a bit that is good as well. Here is an example of the 14 days prior to my 9 day taper for Bighorn. I was more frightened for these than the race!
Step 5: Figure out your stomach.This boils down to practice your race day nutrition/hydration during your long hard runs. Rule number one, if it makes you soil your shorts or vomit uncontrollably DO NOT utilize this strategy or product during your race. Rule number two if you feel like a rock star and are killing your training run, determine how to replicate this nutrition/hydration strategy during your race.
Step 6: Choose appropriate gear. (But not too much!)
This step can be as complicated or simple as you choose. My vote is to keep it as simple as possible. Look at the weather forecast, aid station distances, race time splits if available, course map, and elevation profile. All of these will help you determine what you may need for the race. Much like your nutrition, whatever you plan on using should be practiced beforehand. A good example is, if it makes you bleed or pass out, probably not the best choice. If you barely notice it’s there, use it again.
|My Basic 100 Mile Gear|
Step 7: Determine if you need an entourage. (ie.. Crew & Pacer)This is a personal choice. For me I feel a pacer would be a distraction, I would be more worried about them and not focusing on me. As far as a crew, although I’ve never had one, I feel it would be awesome! (Any future volunteers.)
Step 8: Show up and race smart!
Congrats you’ve made it now have fun!
All in the above steps took me about 5 minutes to work though mentally and looked something like this:1. I am going to run 100 miles,
2. Bighorn Trail 100 Mile scares me and I can drive there for free!
3. I feel good to start running, even if it is -50 degrees out! (Wisconsin winter)
4. Ian Torrence, with McMillan Coaching only made me cry a little ;)
5. Try and Try again, eventually I will have something convenient and stomach friendly!
6. Keep it simple! (Not quite Anton simple though)
7. I am driving to the race for free and dirtbagging it, not really sure who would like to do that as well ;)
8. I am at the start line for the Bighorn 100 and I feel both scared and ready!
Actually getting them done took a bit longer and was all part of the wonderful journey to The Bighorn 100!
Stay tuned for the Race Report!!