You all are my running heroes. And I'm not joking around. I can't tell you how many miles I would have to run out here in the Southern Plains to get the elevation gain you all are getting in your training runs.
My trail running gurus out here tell me to speed-hike the uphills, run the flats and have a good but somewhat relaxing coast on the downhills to conserve energy for the final push on trail races. That may just be a strategy for finishers and not top competitors. That said, I try to go balls-out when I run my uphills because the work factor can only do good things for my legs and heart/lungs.
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Lots of good advice already given here...the Dirty Thirty seems like a great race, and I hope to do it as well this coming year. As some already said, your training kind of depends on whether you simply want to finish the race or get a really good time. If you simply want to finish (which I recommend as a great goal for a first 50k or ultra), then you should probalby abide by the rule of hiking the uphills and running the flats and downhill sections. By hiking the uphills, you will conserve much more energy and probably get a faster time overall since, unless you train super hard, you would probably run uphill slower than you would hike uphill anyway! So, that being said, I found that incorporating super long hikes with lots of elevation gain (such as fourteeners) into your training helps a lot, because it gets you used to spending lots of time on your feet, keeps your hiking muscles in shape (hiking muscles are different than running muscles, and you should focus on both since you will likely be doing both during the race), and gives you the opportunity to work on the nutrition aspect, which, as others have also said, is very important. Once you start doing ultras it's important to get used to consuming more solid foods during the race...it's not really good for your body to consume processed stuff like Gu's/gatorade/etc. for 6+ hours (and why would you want to anyway?). So, figuring out what kind of solid food works for you is key...lots of ultras have stuff like pretzels/sandwiches/chips/m&m's/fruit/etc. at the aid stations (not sure what the Dirty Thirty offers) and in order to keep your energy levels up, it is a good idea to consume these things throughout the race. Some people have issues with eating solid food during a race, but I've found that the more you do it, the more your stomach gets used to it. What else...I like to incorporate sprints uphill while trail running, and make sure you log lots of miles prior to the race with the shoes you plan to use on race day. Good luck and have fun!
Thanks for all the great tips, advice, etc. Definitely a great post to bookmark! Now I just need to get out there...
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