Troubleshooting on the Run, Half One – iRunFar

Races not often go in accordance with plan. Regardless of how a lot we put together for our subsequent occasion, there’ll undoubtedly be some sudden hurdles. The longer the race, the larger the prospect of mishap. I’ve actually had my share of trailside glitches, as have lots of the athletes I work with. Under are among the extra frequent points we’ve confronted and a few secure and wise options, together with:

[Editor’s Note: This is the first in a three-part series. Here are part two and part three.]

Katharina Hartmuth - 2023 Trail World Championships 80k - running at 24k

From the entrance of the pack to the again, troubleshooting is a part of the ultrarunning recreation. Picture: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

The Rebellious Abdomen

A rebellious abdomen is probably essentially the most ubiquitous race-day illness and reason behind most ultramarathon DNFs. As soon as your abdomen begins going south, it’s exhausting to soak up sufficient energy to gasoline the trouble. In consequence, the tempo slows drastically and motivation sometimes evaporates.

  • We are able to normally blame nausea on hydration and electrolyte imbalances. Karl King, the President of SUCCEED! Sportsdrink, has developed an exquisite Water/Electrolyte Steadiness Desk. Use this desk to find out the place you might be developing quick on race day so you possibly can alter your consumption accordingly.
  • Excessive altitude can destroy what’s normally a sound hydration and vitamin regime at sea degree. At oxygen-poor elevations, slowing your tempo and consuming smaller parts might fend off queasiness. For races with course profiles just like the Leadville 100 Mile and Hardrock 100, your abdomen ought to decide on the descents that comply with the excessive peak and move crossings.
  • Be cautious of spoiled drink mixes and meals merchandise. Combine powders solely when wanted and preserve opened dietary merchandise refrigerated or on ice. In the event you’re utilizing drop baggage, make certain they comprise solely these provisions that gained’t spoil if left uncovered to the warmth and solar.
  • Meals allergic reactions are frequent. Test the substances of the merchandise you utilize towards identified meals teams that irritate your intestine.
  • Drugs and dietary dietary supplements can have an effect on the digestive system. Ask a specialist about any pharmaceutical results on dietary uptake.
Anne-Lise Rousset - 2023 Hardrock 100 - Maggie Gulch

Working underneath management can assist forestall nausea at high-altitude races. Picture: iRunFar/Eszter Horanyi

Dizziness and Weak spot

Nothing might be extra irritating than a weakening stride or extra horrifying than inexplicably dropping your sense of steadiness whereas on the path.

  • Once more, confer with King’s desk. Are you consuming sufficient and the way’s your electrolyte consumption?
  • Are you racing within the mountains and never acclimated? Altitude illness often is the perpetrator. If the signs are accelerating, sit down and permit your physique to recuperate or ask a passing runner to ship again assist from the subsequent assist station.
  • You can be experiencing the legendary bonk. How is your fueling? Decelerate and get some energy in rapidly. Easier carbohydrates, like maltodextrin (the principle ingredient in most gels and sports activities drinks), will snap you out of it rapidly. A cup of soda, if out there, will do the trick too. Be sure you proceed to gasoline correctly to forestall the bonk from rearing its ugly head once more later within the occasion.


Issues are going nicely after which all of a sudden your hamstring, quad, calf, or foot clamps down involuntarily. Runners have been dropped at the bottom mid-stride due to violent cramping.  See Joe Uhan’s complete iRunFar article Cramping My Fashion. Extra particularly, learn Uhan’s seven methods famous on the finish of his piece underneath “The Listing: Methods to Deal with and Forestall Muscle Cramping in Coaching and Racing” with a view to forestall and overcome cramping throughout your subsequent race.

2023 San Juan Solstice 50 mile - 2 runners on ridge

Caring for your self is an important factor of operating an ultramarathon. Picture: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Sickness Earlier than Race Day

Getting sick forward of 1’s race is a typical incidence. We’ve spent numerous hours of coaching and cash on race entry and journey solely to turn into sick every week or two earlier than our competitors. Can we nonetheless go for it?

  • The number-one precedence is to make use of the time you could have earlier than race day to recuperate out of your compromised well being. Every week or two of missed operating is not going to considerably have an effect on your race, however exhibiting up sick actually will. Don’t attempt to prepare by a fever. The energy, velocity, and conditioning you’ve gained over the prior months is not going to all of a sudden disappear. Use the tips and tips in my Working and Restoration article to assist get the higher hand in your ailment.
  • In the event you wind up on antibiotics, ensure you’ve accomplished the complete course no less than one week earlier than race day. Your physique is working double time to combat off an infection. Competing whereas on antibiotics spells catastrophe. It’s going to depart you weak and might result in abdomen points, dehydration, and, relying on the antibiotic, coronary heart issues.
  • If the bug you contracted affected your potential to eat and drink, perceive that you’ll begin your race at an obstacle. Your gasoline shops will probably be depleted initially line. Rectify this by slowing your tempo and consuming extra on race day.

Leg Soreness

It’s not a query of if, however reasonably a query of when your legs will get sore throughout an extremely. Most ultrarunners have skilled no less than one excruciating case of “quad lock” throughout a race.  How can the identical athlete be crippled by muscle injury throughout one occasion and effective on the subsequent?

Sudden Race-Day Climate

It’s Murphy’s Legislation. The yr you determine to run an occasion, it’ll be the most well liked, windiest, coldest, wettest, iciest, smokiest, or snowiest on document. What can we do to counteract the truth that we’ve skilled in an acceptable local weather for the occasion, however race-day situations are record-breaking?

Tyler Green - 2021 Western States 100 - Rucky Chucky

Tyler Inexperienced cooling off within the American River at mile 78, on his technique to taking second on the 2021 Western States 100. Picture: iRunFar / Bryon Powell

Getting Misplaced

Subsequent to your abdomen going south, getting disoriented or veering off track can fill even essentially the most skilled path runner with concern and dread. Your due diligence begins nicely earlier than race day, very like your coaching. Right here are some things you are able to do upfront to reduce your probabilities of getting misplaced.

  • Attend any pre-race briefings by race administration. It’s throughout these conferences that very important last-minute course alterations shall be revealed. Examples after all markings are sometimes displayed, so that you’ll know what to search for on the course.
  • Carry a map, use an app like Avenza or Gaia GPS with the course route, or familiarize your self (just about or in individual) with the course format. Pay attention to key landmarks, turns, climbs, descents, and distances between assist stations.
  • By no means assume that the runners in entrance of you know how. Don’t watch their again, as an alternative look ahead to course markings and turns.

Nonetheless, if you happen to do end up off track:

  • Don’t panic or get indignant. You’re going to want this vitality to get your self again on observe.
  • Retrace your steps. Don’t depart the path or highway you’re on by taking a cross-country route. Chances are you’ll rapidly end up surrounded by unfriendly vegetation and terrain or much more misplaced. Comply with your individual footprints again from the place you got here till you come across course markings or one other runner.
  • When you’re again on observe, don’t attempt to make up for misplaced time by operating too exhausting. Preserve a degree head, objective race tempo, and ahead momentum. Misplaced time can’t be made up. Doing so will simply depart you haggard and annoyed. Take consolation in the truth that you’re again heading in the right direction!

[Editor’s Note: As one of iRunFar’s best training articles, we’ve worked with author Ian Torrence to update this article before resharing it.]

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  • How have you ever overcome issues like these?
  • Are there different race-day issues and options that you simply’d add to this record?

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