Whether they’re good or bad, we all have our favorite ultra moments. Remember that painful bliss after crossing the finish line of your first ultra? Or the disappointment and heartache of your first DNF? Maybe it was the stressful task of pacing your friend through the middle of the night. Those are the moments that shape our sport. Our favorite memories will carry us to the next race where we will continue to make more. However, as we begin to train for races in 2022, it’s necessary to remember how important those moments really are.
Signing up for races is easy. We get overzealous and with the click of a button, suddenly our Ultrasignup profile includes race entries for each month from March through November. Then it’s time to begin training.
Unfortunately, the actual training never offers many significant memories because each run, short or long, is integrated into a daily routine that, over time, builds the framework needed for running an ultra. Those training days are what you’re really committing to when signing up for a race, and if the course description said, “100 miles plus six months of training 300 miles per month,” we might think twice.
In this issue, you’ll find training advice that ranges from specific to not so traditional, including three critical variables to remember when planning your training from Jason Koop on page 10. Gary Cantrell writes about using a journey run as a way to dig deep in your training regimen on page 25.
A new column by Liza Howard tackles trail safety and how to be prepared when setting off on a solo trail run on page 14. Anton Krupicka offers personal training advice in his new column, “In Stride,” on page 19. And author Jared Beasley tells the story of an ultrarunner who pushed the limits of his physical ability and was dangerously close to a mental break in his new column, “Detours of the Lost and Found,” on page 64.
Some of my favorite memories are from pacing our publisher, Karl Hoagland, along the final miles of the Western States course to his 10th finish. The dirt was so fine it formed clouds of dust in front of my headlamp with each step. But that didn’t matter once we reached No Hands Bridge and turned off our lights to take in the stars above before his final push to the track in Auburn. Or the time I struggled with stomach issues on the final climb to Foresthill during the Canyons 100K. Both were vastly different experiences but memories that will stay with me forever. Those are the moments that I look forward to making more of this year.
As spring weather brings extended time on the trails and more miles in the bank, don’t forget those ultra moments from the past. All the training and hard work isn’t just for a shiny new buckle, it’s so you’ll make a whole new set of memories at your next race. Because those are what keep us coming back for more in this wonderful sport.