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Advice for First-Time 100 Mile Runners

by Roxanne Vogel, GU Nutrition and Performance Research Manager

 

Here at GU, a big part of my role as Nutrition and Performance Research Manager is to support our athletes with nutrition advice and planning for races and adventures big and small. From running across the Sahara to setting the hour world record in cycling to racing the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational, I’ve come to embrace the challenge of fueling breakthrough performances.

This weekend, it’s my turn to step into the unknown as I toe the line at the iconic Leadville 100, a mountainous trail race that starts at over 10,000 feet elevation and crests 12,500-foot Hope Pass. Twice. Having never run a one-hundred-mile race, I reached out to the best group of mentors I could think of: the seasoned athletes I’ve been privileged to work with from GU’s Team Roctane and Salty’s Squad. I wanted to know what sage wisdom they could impart for a relative newb like myself. Here’s what they shared.

 

(Edit: Since this was written, Roxanne completed Leadville 100! Not only did she finish in less than 24-hours, but she was 4th female!!)

 

Advice on handling taper/pre-race jitters?

"Pre-race jitters are generally good, but don’t let them get out of hand. Spend some time reviewing your plan and then focus on relaxing. All the work is done, don’t worry about the uncontrollables and unknown, savor having got to this point." -Luke Nelson (Team Roctane)

 

Worst advice you’ve ever received?

"I’ve experimented with a lot of stupid stuff in training but not while racing!  I will say that super glue on the nipples has the opposite of the intended effect." – Anonymous

Best advice you’ve gotten?

"Stay on top of doing the right things consistently. This is basic, but it’s routinely drinking and fueling and taking electrolytes, if necessary. In my first hundred, I picked up my pacer at mile 60. I was really out of it. Weak, delirious, and barely moving. My pacer asked if I was eating and drinking, to which I gave an emphatic yes. We went for a while, a mile or two, and he said give me your bottle. So he took it and saw that I had not had more than a sip in well over an hour or two. He slowly began building me back up by getting me to slowly drink and snack a little in aid stations. By mile 75 I felt like I had just started the race. If I didn’t have a good pacer chances are I might not have finished because I was so depleted." -Steve H. (Ageless Athlete)

"Don't go out too fast, run your own race, and keep up on your nutrition and hydration."  – Max King (Team Roctane)

"No matter the pace, just keep moving."  -Luke Nelson

"Eat early and eat often…even the most knowledgeable experts in nutrition need to be reminded of it." – Magda Boulet (Team Roctane)

Surprising tips/tricks that have worked for you?

"The most recent learning I had was locking in a race intention, not a goal or measurable objective. At Hardrock my intention was gratitude. Whenever things got tough, or when motivation waned I could lean in to the intention and get myself centered. The race was not without challenge, but despite that my mental status throughout was the best it has ever been."  – Luke Nelson

 

Funny first time 100 miler stories?

"I left my bib at an aid station when changing shorts and had next aid station call back to find it. In the confusion, the RD and a whole bunch of other good folks thought I was running around without any pants on." –Peter H. (Salty’s Squad)

"The weather got a little rough for my first finish and the aid station volunteers abandoned ship! I had to shelter for the night in a porta john instead of risking 30 mph winds in 30 degree temps on an exposed ridgeline before reaching my warmer clothes at the next AS." –Ken M. 

 

Favorite real food nutrition options during 100 milers?

"My favorite ultra food: salty mashed potatoes and miso soup, especially when it’s chilly at night and the temperature drops drastically in the big mountains." –Magda Boulet

 

Anything else you’re willing to share?

"I think the most important part of running and racing 100s is to not think about how long/big/hard they are, but to rather chunk them in to small manageable pieces. I truly believe that our brains are not capable of processing what it takes to run 100 miles if considered all at once, but it has no problem thinking of 10 miles, a mile, or just running to the next tree. Also, if you are grumpy-eat, if you feel tired-eat, if you are overwhelmed with doubt-eat, if you feel good-eat, if you feel bad-eat, if you are sad-eat, if you are happy-eat. Eating solves just about every problem out there." –Luke N.

"Show an appreciation & respect for the land you run with. You are privileged to run on these sacred trails so take the time to say hello to them and tell them how grateful you are for the opportunity to make this journey." –Magda B.

"Remember that this is what you do for FUN!!  Smile, especially when you don't mean it. The brain doesn't really know the difference between real and fake smiles, and you will feel it!" –Ken M.

 

There you have it, folks. Good luck to all you first-time 100 mile runners, whether you are running Leadville this weekend or have another race in your future. Be sure to share your journey with us along the way. #GUforIt