Ultra Race Preparation: Training, Gear, Nutrition and Hydration for Running Javelina Jundred
Training for a destination race can be challenging,
especially if the terrain and climate differ from where you live and train.
Why Javelina Jundred?
Javelina Jundred will be my first 100-mile race.
My personal goal for Javelina Jundred is to cover the 100 miles (160K) in 24 hours or less.
One of the reasons I chose for the Javelina Jundred is because it’s a very well organized loop race with great aid stations and lots of fun and excitement along the course. I won’t have family, friends or a coach around to give me support and kick my ass on race day, but I’m sure the volunteers, music, joy and smiling faces will keep me going:-)
Another reason to choose for Javelina Jundred is that it’s a qualifying race for the Western States Endurance Run (WSER), the oldest 100-mile trail race in the world.
The third reason is that I love the sun. I’m not sure how much I love the desert sun and heat, but it’s an interesting challenge!
I signed up for Javelina Jundred 2017, a 100-mile race near Phoenix in the hot, dry Arizona desert, but I spent the first few months of my training in the much cooler, humid Netherlands. Here’s why I chose for Javelina Jundred.
I was thrilled when I got the opportunity to stay with family in Austin, Texas, two months before the race.
Austin is not as hot as Phoenix, but much more humid, which is harder to run in than a dry climate, because you sweat a lot, but it doesn’t evaporate. The challenge of the desert though is dehydration. So I trained on drinking lots of water before, during and after the run, and I also trained on walking and jogging with many layers of clothing.
I also had access to an infrared sauna, which helps to recover from training, to get used to the heat, and to build running endurance. Researchers concluded that the deep penetration of infrared heat in conjunction with milder temperatures and lower humidity is ideal for promoting the neuromuscular system to recover from maximal endurance activity.
Sleep and recovery
Although performance is said to be optimal with 7 to 10 hours of sleep on a daily basis, it is not always easy to put into practice. And there are many examples of high performing runners who sleep a lot less than 7 hours.
“Running God” Yiannis Kouros, the number one Ultra Marathon runner, who has broken more than 160 world records, slept 30–60 minutes per day while studying, building a house, taking care of his family and running ultra races of 12 hours up to 10 days.
Most of us need more sleep to feel rested though and prefer other sleeping habits.
The night before race day can be short and restless because of an early start of the race and last minute preparation.
So the previous nights I’ll relax and go to bed a bit earlier, to sleep and feel as rested as possible.
I avoid electronic devices after 10 pm and coffee after 3 pm.
Setting a routine to complete small daily tasks helps to feel accomplished by the end of the day.
I also like to do some strengthening, stretching and breathing exercises to clear my head before I go to bed.
If my mind keeps spinning or when I wake up and can’t get back to sleep, I listen to podcasts with one calm low voice (no conversations).
Fortunately, there will be an awesome crowd to keep us awake and kicking at Javelina:-)
Running gear for the desert
Running in the heat for 24 hours on dusty trails with a mix of hard packed granite, rocks and sand, ass for specific gear and accessories:
Trail running shoes
I like minimalistic shoes and used to run in Nike free shoes. For ultra road races I prefer the Hoka One Clifton.
But for the desert trail I needed more grip. I bought two pairs of shoes,
the Merrell Mix Master Move Glide Trail-Running Shoes and the Altra Superior 3.0 Trail-Running Shoes
Both kind of shoes are comfortable and lightweight.
The Merrels do well on roads and light trails and I use them for most of my training.
The Astra Superior is qualified as “light enough to qualify as a minimal shoe but sturdy enough to use for longer runs in a variety of terrain (sandy, rocky, gravelly, muddy, somewhat icy, snowy trails, and road). I will wear them during the race and bring my Merrells and Hoka one Clifton as a backup.
I follow the advice of Fellrunr: “My favorite combination is to wear the Injinji lightweight sock with the thinnest Cool Max Wrightsock. This gives me toe protection and three layers of material. I find that this pairing is much better with blisters than any other option I’ve tried. I found that this combination works under the most extreme conditions of heat and humidity. The combination is also remarkably cool, much colder than you would expect for two socks with three layers of material.”
I could not find this exact same combination of ankle height socks in my size, but the merino Smartwool is said to be a great alternative for the synthetic Coolmax:
The fine, itch-free fibers of merino wool have virtually replaced the scratchy rag-wool socks previous generations used. Their biggest advantage is that they are thermostatic (temperature-regulating), so your feet stay comfortable in a wide range of temperatures. Wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in water, which helps feet remain dry in most conditions.
I bought the Smartwool PhD Run Socks to keep my feet dry.
The Injinji Liner Crew Socks seamless “toe socks” help to prevent between-toe blisters.
I bought an extra pair of both types of socks to replace them in case my shoes fill up with sand or other discomfort.
To keep the sand out of my shoes as much as possible, I bought gaiters as well.
Running a message with the #GlobalGoals dress
As I explained in the blog Training for a 100-miler when it’s your first, I will be running for a bigger reason than to finish the race for myself.
Every day I run I am grateful that I can. Grateful for my health, the lovely weather and beautiful nature, and to have the time and freedom. Although it feels natural to enjoy the outdoors, it’s not self-evident.
That’s what I remind myself of when I have to dig deep. It’s what keeps me going when I feel like giving up:
Stories of people who don’t have the freedom or right to enjoy the outdoors. Stories of preserving nature. Stories of achieving impossible goals. Stories of grit and perseverance. Stories of people who run for those who can’t. Stories of running for a better health and a better world.
That’s why I run for #GlobalGoals. In September 2015, 193 world leaders agreed to 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. All these goals are related and impact our quality of life. If these Goals are completed, it would mean an end to extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030.
To create extra awareness I decided to have a dress designed in the colors of the Global Goals. RunColor makes sportswear tailored to your wishes. RunColor supports me in my goal and made the dress for me.
Feel free to contact RunColor if you want to support Global Goals with a similar or the same outfit, or if you want another personalized design.
Running at night with a headlamp
Running Javelina Jundred by the end of October means running 11 hours in the dark desert. There comes a lot into play when looking for a headlamp that gives such a view that you run as comfortable at night as during the day. It took me hours of research to find a proper, durable and affordable headlamp, but after running once without proper light it became clear how important it is.
I ended up buying the Black Diamond Revolt, based on reviews and because I prefer rechargeable batteries or a usb-charged headlamp. Fortunately, regular AAA batteries can be used as well, in case of emergency.
The first headlamp I bought gives more focused light, so I decided to put that one around my waist to have some bright light near my feet as well.
The Black Diamond Revolt has a wider beam angle, so I’ll put it on my cap to lighten the path in front of me.
Nutrition and hydration
I’ll fill a 2l Camelbak Crux hydration bladder with coconut water and a bit of apple cider vinegar. I like salty and sour, not too sweet flavors. Coconut water replaces electrolytes. Apple cider vinegar gives a bit of a bite, keeps the energy level high and contains calcium and potassium, which helps to prevent and relieve muscle cramps.
I like it a lot more than the sweet sport drinks and gels, and my stomach can handle it a lot better.
I’ll carry it in my North Face hydration pack and will store extra coconut water and apple cider vinegar in the aid station to refill the bladder.
I’ll use a Nathan 18oz and 9oz handheld to carry and refill water. I’ll carry 2 extra Nathan 9 oz flasks in my hydration pack pockets.
I also bought 6 MiraCool Neck Bandana’s to keep my neck and arms cool in the heat without needing any ice.
I’ll bring some salt tablets, although I don’t think I’ll need them if I drink enough coconut water and eat enough salty real food.
I’ll stick with fresh fruit, avocado and potatoes with salt, provided by the aid stations. I’ll bring some dates, cliff bars and sour candy to have some variety in flavors.
I’ll bring home made energy bars as well. Here’s the recipe, shared by CTS Coaching:
Banana Espresso Cookie Dough Energy Bites
Ingredients for Banana Espresso Cookie Dough Energy Bites (Makes 28 2-ounce servings)
3 Cups Oat Flour (Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oat Flour)
½ Cup Gluten-Free Oats (Nature’s Path Gluten-Free instant Oats)
½ Cup Hemp Seeds
2 Tbsp Instant Espresso (Medaglia D’Oro)
2 Tbsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
½ Cup Dark Chocolate Chunks (72% chocolate)
½ Cup Sprouted Almonds, chopped
½ Cup Banana Chips, chopped
½ Cup Protein Powder (Jeff uses whey protein powder)
¼ Cup Almond Butter (can substitute peanut butter or cashew butter)
2 Bananas (very, very ripe)
¼ Cup Honey
Hemp Seeds (to roll bites in as finishing touch)
In a bowl, combine dry ingredients: oat flour, oats, hemp seeds, instant espresso, cinnamon, sea salt, chocolate chunks, almonds, banana chips, and protein powder.
In a separate bowl, mash together bananas and almond butter. Stir until combined.
Add honey to banana and almond butter mix. Stir thoroughly.
Gradually stir dry ingredients into banana/almond butter/honey mixture. Add a small amount of the dry mixture, stir to combine, then add some more, etc.
Once ingredients are all combined, remove dough from bowl and knead by hand on a hard surface.
Place dough in a ziplock bag and flatten/press to desired thickness (typically 3/4 inch to an inch thick).
Refrigerate bagged dough for about 30 minutes.
Remove from bag, slice into bites of desired size, and individually wrap.
Nutritional Information (per 2-ounce serving)
Total Calories: 240
Pacing / measuring data
I hardly pay attention to my pace while running a race. I just have a quick look once in a while to check my average pace, especially if my race goal is a specific time or distance.
But for an ultra I trust mainly on the endurance that I built up during my training; I just know the average pace that I can keep up with for hours without raising my heart rate too much.
As this is the first time I’ll run a 100 mile race and the first time in the desert, there’s a lot unknown.
It will be interesting to analyze the data after the race, and I really liked to have some insight in my progress while training, so when my Garmin Forerunner 610 broke down again, just a few weeks before the race, I decided to replace it with the Garmin Forerunner 935, after checking the review of this complete GPS running/triathlon watch with wrist-based heart rate. So far it seems to do the job!
My goal is to run 100 miles within 24 hours. To be able to do that my average pace should be on average 14.40 minutes per mile to cover 4.16 miles per hour, including climbing, walking, toilet breaks etc.
I’ll try to keep moving at a steady pace all the time, and to avoid standing and sitting. I will try to walk only on the uphill parts and passing the aid stations.
The ultimate race preparation; learn from other runners
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I will also share my race experience and lessons later in this blog, so sign up below if you like to get updates:-)
You can follow me along on race day via live results. My Bibnr is 458.
Originally published at Running Your Life.