I’m not a veteran Ultra Runner but there is a way to mitigate this weakness a little bit. “Proper planning and preparation prevents piss poor performance,” as the saying goes. Every bit of information you could wish for has been shared in some form on Facebook groups, various blogs, YouTube videos, or podcasts. If what you are looking for is not available already, there are thousands of people you can ask about it. For example, here is Part 1 about my WTM race strategy and how it played out.
Here I want to share the results of my research, how it worked out for me, what factors to consider, and what I would do differently next time. I strongly encourage everyone to never rely on only one source of information but to seek out the advice and opinions of several people. What works for one person might not work for the other.
- Read and watch every piece of material that WTM veterans have shared on their blogs, Facebook, or YouTube. The various Facebook groups are a gold mine of information as well. Check out the “Files” tab in the groups for additional documents.
- Test gear and fuel during long runs or other races (e.g. Ultra Beast) before using it at WTM
- Taper off of coffee for a while, down to zero caffeine at least a week prior to WTM (decaf if necessary), no other caffeine either
- Be ready for piercing headaches, depending on how high your daily coffee intake was to start with
- Not really carb loading (personal preference)
- Having a few hundred calories more in your glycogen stores will not make a big difference if you are staying on top of your caloric intake during the race. Carb loading makes me feel bloated and heavy.
I truly believe that your mind is what drives your body and it will tell you to stop long before your body has reached its limits. Your mind wants to protect the resources available to it and does not want you to literally run yourself into the ground by running for 24 hours like a maniac. One of the methods to override this part of your brain (call it Central Governor or whatever else you prefer) is to have mantras at hand which you can repeat to yourself again and again. Here are some of mine:
- Flow, not force. Bend, don’t break. Determined, not desperate.
- Conquer yourself.
- “Be great in act as you have been in thought”
- “Warriors don’t slouch into battle”
- “Focus on the process, not the outcome”
- “Not being able to govern events, I govern myself”
- Ugly but effective. It’s a good bad day.
- Triumph can’t be had without struggle.
- Positive, patient, persistent. Cool, calm, collected.
- More machine than man. Forge ahead.
- Visualize being something unstoppable.
Here are some visuals Taylor created to throw in my face should I need it during the race:
Mental Focus during Racing
- Stay injury free, even when you are ambitious. A broken body can’t move.
- Stay on pace, even when you feel strong. It won’t last. Stick to the plan.
- Stay lubed, even when you don’t think you need to. Once you notice, it’s too late.
- Stay fueled, even when you don’t think you need to. Once you notice, it’s too late.
- Stay hydrated, even when you don’t think you need to. Once you notice, it’s too late.
- Stay in the fight, even when your mind tells you to quit. Run through your mental checklist. Pain does not equal injury.
- Going out too fast during initial Start
- Keeping a too fast pace during Sprint Hour
- Not adjusting pace to the terrain appropriately
- Hydrate/Eat too soon or too late on course (esp. considering the only water station was about 2mi in)
- Hydrate/Eat too much or too little (some pointers on this can be found in Part 1 of my WTM blog posts)
- Wasting time with unnecessarily long pit stops
- Applying to little lube or not thoroughly enough
- Putting the wet suit on too soon (very rarely a severe issue) or too late (potentially fatal mistake)
- Putting additional gear (windbreaker, neoprene cap/hood/gloves/socks) on too late
- Not having a clear plan/order of operation/communication with your pit crew
Whatever gear I could not test during other races was tested during specific simulations. For example, I did run in my wet suits at the beach in Santa Cruz as well as on a running track.
Two is one and one is none. If anything gets lost or broken you will want a backup. This is especially true for essential items like lights and wet suits. If you purchase during deals or go hunting on REI Garage Sales you often find gear a lot cheaper than at normal retail prices. Wetsuit Wearhouse is a WTM community favorite for sure.
This table shows all of my gear as far as I remember but the pictures below show the full load out of gear I brought with me.
|Baselayer||Neoprene Head||Neoprene Body||Neoprene Legs/Feet||Neoprene Hands|
|2XU Longsleeve compression shirt||2mm Billabong Solution Neo Cap||5/3mm Xterra Vector Pro Fullsuit||NeoSport Polyfleece pants||3mm NHS Maverick Gloves|
|Nike Pro Combat compression tights||2mm Billabong Furnace Carbon X Hood||3/2mm Orca SwimRun Core Shorty + arm sleeves||2mm NeoSport Neoprene Water Socks||5mm HyperFlex ACCESS Wetsuit Gloves|
|Injinji Compression OTC 2.0 Socks||1.5mm SUPreme COLD STROKE Beanie Cap||2mm Hyperflex Cyclone Short John||1mm WETSOX Thermal Round Toe Wetsuit Sock||6mm Hyperflex Mesh Skin Oven Mitt, X-Large|
|Salomon S-Lab Sense 5 Ultra SG||1.5mm SUPreme REACH Wetsuit Jacket – Front Zip|
|Quicksilver Heater Longsleeve Polyfleece|
|Lights||Running Accessories||Wind Protection||Foodtime|
|Black Diamond Storm 2016 headlamp||Running belt||Cheap Windbreaker jacket||Snickers|
|Black Diamond Storm 2014 x 2 headlamp||Garmin Fenix 3 HR GPS watch||Cheap Windbreaker pants||Beef Jerky|
|Strobe Light (3x)||Oakley sunglasses||Clif Bars|
|Paracord to tie the lights to the bib||Kind Bars|
|Petzl e+Lite headlamp||Bonk Breaker Bars|
|Extra batteries||Tailwind Naked Flavor|
|Tailwind Berry Flavor Caffeinated|
|Warm weather clothes||Personal Care||Tent/Pit||Cellucor Amino Acid|
|Mad Grip Gloves||Gurney Goo/Trail Toes||REI Half Dome 2 Plus||Clif Shot Bloks|
|Mechanix Gloves||Aquaphor/ Yellow Gold Bond powder mix (1:4; until it’s gray)||Sleeping bag||Run Gum Caffeine Gum|
|Buff||Chapstick||Air mattress||Succeed S-Caps Salt Pills|
|Goggles||Sunscreen spray||Heavy duty space blanket||GU Energy Gels|
|CWX TraXter tights||Baby wipes||Post-race clothing||Honey Stinger Gels|
|Towels||Post-race shoes||Hammer Gels|
|Tums Antacid||Post-race jacket|
|Anti-nausea||Black Diamond Apollo lantern|
|Naproxen (painkiller)||Hand warmers|
|Turmeric||Space blanket with hood|
|Roller stick||Space blanket|
|Band-aids||Thin emergency blanket|
|Hydrogen peroxide (disinfectant)||Camping chair|
|Medical scissors/Trauma shears|
|Labeled bags for night ops, storm, day ops, etc.|
I didn’t change out of this for 14 Laps:
- Salomon S-Lab Sense 5 Ultra Soft Ground
- Injinji OTC 2.0 Compression toe socks
- Nike Pro Combat tights
- 2XU compression long sleeve top
- Fuel belt
Standard Gear plus the following:
- Orca Core SwimRun wetsuit 3mm
- Cheap REI windbreaker
- NRS Maverick neoprene gloves
- Billabong Solution Neo 2mm neoprene cap
- Black Diamond Storm headlamp (paracord already tied to headlamp)
- eGear Guardian strobe light (clip taped shut to headlamp)
I changed completely for the final lap:
- Salomon S-Lab Sense 5 Ultra Soft Ground, half a size larger than normal
- Injinji Trail socks
- CWX TraXter tights
- UA compression short sleeve shirt
- Hyperflex Cyclone 2 Short John 2mm wet suit
Tape & Lube
I taped 8 toes and the inside of my ankles based on my long run/Ultra Beast experience with Leukotape. Then I generously slathered Trail Toes on my feet everywhere else. Finally, I applied Gurney Goo to my private parts, armpits, and where the compression shirt meets the neck. I re-applied this layer of Gurney Goo every other lap after Lap 5. Chafing is like staying Fueled: If you start to feel the need for it you are already behind the curve. The goal is to stay ahead of the game.
Single use latex gloves are ideal to apply Gurney Goo. Since the stuff is so slippery and hard to get off of your hands (which obv