Friday, July 25, 2014

UltraMarathon Fashion 101

Running a marathon is quite tough but running an ultramarathon is even tougher and crazy but for some who simply fell in love with running and with distance, they can only laugh about their ordeal and take pride of their accomplishments.

My crazy penchant for running is due to people I run with. With the challenge to just go farther every after race motivates me to go beyond my comfort zone and just try longer distances.

My first  60km ultra marathon was two years ago and I could only scorn that run as injury consumed me after lack of training, bad weather, poor logistics support and game plan. From then, I wanted to run smart.

67km ultramarathon around Camiguin Island landing 10th place

So, my first learning applies to wearing the right stuff for the distance.

  • Head gear. While this may be cumbersome to others, I find this necessary especially when weather is unpredictable. Ultra marathons take hours and hours and natural elements including dust, sun, insects and rain could wear you down. Make sure though that this gear is easy to dry off.
  • Running shirt and shorts. Some would wear compression suit and these too are good but the bottomline is simply to wear stuffs you are used to running and that you are comfortable with. Since I have to wear  my hydration bag that irritates my neck, I have to wear turtleneck max - cool top. 
  • Compression socks. These may be non - essential to short - distance runners but they are quite helpful to marathons and ultramarathoners as they help suppress muscle inflammation. Make sure though that you get the right sizes.You normally do this by getting the circumference of your calf.
  • Running socks. Bad socks can give you disaster. I had my own share of blisters when non - running socks were worn during my first half - marathon. Feeling pain while running is disturbing and one may resort to giving up if pain tolerance is not high. 
    more than 200 ultramarthoners filled the Camiguin road just after gunstart.
    I had to look for my running buddy lost in  the crowd.
  • Running shoes. While we are tempted to try what marketers advertise, the thing is buy shoes that suit your feet's natural arch and gait. Since I am semi - flat footed, I have to look for stability shoes and since I want to stick with midfoot running, midfoot - based shoes like Sketchers help. I love as well Adidas for its bigger toe box that is essential when feet become swollen from long running. Sports stores like Toby's provide running analysis to aid you with your shoe selection. Also, do remember that shoes normally last about 6 months for heavy trainings, so, invest on new shoes especially if you have impending races. I had to endure 5 hours of running my first marathon from heavily blistered feet from a pair of dilapidated  one - year old shoes.
  • Hydration bag / belts.While races do provide hydration points, it is smarter if you bring your own hydration bag / belts to house your hydration essentials. Estimate what you can consume for a given distance interval and simply replenish from hydration points. Make sure too that you have extra money and phone if necessary for emergencies. 
  • Safety essentials. Safety is relative and personal to a runner. While races may assure of marshals and security units,  runners must  only be conscious of their personal safety from incoming vehicle and natural elements. I had to swerve from running on dim roads of Camiguin, a heavily - forested island,  when a two - foot snake crossed the roads. Focus and presence of mind may be far - fetching when you are all tired from running the distances but all these  are inclusive of a race. 
Running an ultramarathon requires strategic planning and hard work. Great ultramarothers don't just cross the finish lines ahead of others without proper training and preparation. So, enjoy the distance, the toil, and the entire experience of ultra marathon because it is indeed life changing. For one, the long hours can make you reflect about life and appreciate your blessings whether scarce or abundant.

Good luck!