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Ready to expand your training?

It has taken me 5 years to return to a special place. A place in the mountains I felt completely drawn to the moment I arrived there during a photoshoot for Inov-8 in 2010. Life somewhat got in the way of going back to Chamonix, Mont-Blanc any earlier. If anything, I kept finding reasons why I could not make the trip. So the years went by.

Do you know that feeling that you would really like to try and do something different in your training? Feeling stuck in a rut of work, training, family and juggling it all? But something holds you back to take some time off for yourself?

Even if you realize that time to yourself doesn´t necessarily involve a lot of costs but your absolute will to expand and taking your training to new heights?

But I know, something else always takes priority over one or more of your deep(est) desires, wishes, ideas and dreams as an ultra runner.

What would happen if you just did it?

Last week, actually whilst cycling along a nice path with my kids, Chamonix and the trails around the Mont-Blanc suddenly popped up in my head. So sudden that I got goosebumps all over. Up to that day the experience of running in such a remote area which had fueled me with incredible amounts of energy back then had never gone.

Boom, it was all there again and I decided to go back. Instantly and without hesitation.

I took inspired action in response to the vision I had of myself running on those rugged trails that so beautifully surround Chamonix and called up a friend who warmly welcomed me at his place a mere four days later.

I ran over twelve hours in 3 days, completely surrendering myself to the mountains. Every step felt so safe, no matter how narrow the trails were, no matter how hot it was and no matter how many people let me pass by. I was flying along lightly on my feet and was happiest during the hours where I did not see a soul. Just hearing the gravel crumble underneath my shoes was like music to my ears, so pure. I felt infused with abundance.

The weekend was a turning point for me. I sensed what is still in it for me as an ultra trail runner. That even though I had not run past and beyond 1,5 hours the past couple of years and had focused more on horse-riding instead, my endurance, core strength and running spirit have not faded at all.

If anything, I´ve returned back on the trails stronger than ever before simply by expanding my training at last.

Developing your skills as an ultra runner and discovering your true virtue is not done in a day. But you´ll be surprised what you can take away for yourself by changing your routine just once in a while by just getting out there and lifting yourself slightly out of the comfort zone.

On day 3 of my mountain running adventure I finally got passed by a French gazelle-like male runner who slowed down and started to talk. We were hiking fast up towards the Nid d´Aigle when he asked me how many kilometres I had set out to run that day. I said that I was heading up to the top and then taking a different route back down to Les Houches.

However long that would take me.

He proudly announced that he was running 33 K and guess what happened: During that second he had given away his last reserves, his power and his last mental energy he would have needed to keep up with me. He was blown. I decided to take the lead, never looked back and never saw him again.

Shame as I was initially happy to have a training buddy for an hour or so. But his competitiveness spoiled it for me.

On any ascend in an ultra, a race is often decided! The mountain can be a real devil that evokes negativity of it being too steep to run up.

Instead, surrendering to its beauty and the gift within you to be capable of winding your way up to the mountain top is what can leave you with an amazingly rewarding sense of achievement and gratitude.

Don´t waste time on the I-have-to-beat-him or her! That game always ends up in a dead-end road. For you!

It´s when you decide to view other runners in a race as your allies to help you have your best day out on the course you can have the race of your life.

That attitude wins mentally over any negative, competitive thoughts of having to beat the shit out of the others runners in the field.

Discovering such like-minded game players in races is key!

When did you last expand your training? What benefits did you get out of the experience? I am super curious to know your story and thoughts.

Please leave your comment below!

 

 

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Is The Vegan Hype Worth It?

I had the chance to interview an expert in her field, barefoot runner and journalist Caity McCardell, former radio host of runbarefootgirl.com. We did a podcast together a while back and now it was time to turn things around. I was thrilled to have the honour to ask her some pressing questions I have had on my mind about vegan diets.

The vegan diet is still highly promoted in the ultra running scene.

Is it really so much more effort to make more conscious choices each day about the foods you eat? And start feeling even better about yourself, experiencing higher levels of energy, better overall body feeling, needing less sleep, recovering quicker from running, shedding excess weight…the list of benefits is long.

Sometimes influences and opinions from the people around you can throw you back into those old habits that knowingly die hard. Sometimes even to the extent of sensing social pressure of “fitting in” with the main crowd.

Remember, though, that being an ultra runner is different from what the main crowd considers normal.

Discovering some aspects of the vegan diet will help you discover that a different way of eating spreads into other areas of life.

Small steps lead a long way as Caity shares in the interview.

It may just be the answer to many of your considerations about the vegan diet. What´s the hype all about?  😉

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How To Best Prep Your Feet With One Simple Method

An ultra runner´s feet would not necessarily win a beauty contest.

By the nature of it our feet are in many cases prone to blistering. I belong to the group of people whose feet are easy to take care of and rarely suffer from blisters the size of a tennis ball – as seen during the Marathon des Sables.

There is one remedy that can at least prevent you from the worst troubles. And is super-easy to get hold of, easy to apply and seriously fool-proof.

 

If this magic tape called Leukotape can withstand the rather hot conditions in a desert then it will surely help on a day to day basis for those living in cooler places.

The key is to go simple – my favorite approach all things considered ultra marathon training. It´s worked many times over. The tape functions as a protective layer on the skin. Unlike most products that are pricy and in most cases boost blistering.

What do you do to prevent blisters during long runs and in races? What´s your #1 tip you´d like to share?

Join the conversation and let me know what you think. I look forward to read your comments.

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What The Top 2% Ultra Runners Eat For Breakfast

It´s almost too hard to believe what the top ultra runners eat for breakfast. But why complicate things when there is an easy way to prepare your body for the next long run or ultra marathon.

I´m a great believer that, the less you turn your training, nutrition and other pieces of the puzzle that shape your being an ultra runner, into rocket science the more you get to enjoy not only your daily training but also your races.

The same applies to the non-scientific approach to choosing the right foods for breakfast. Years ago, I was far too perfectionist to do things the simple way. Again, analyzing the foods I was in eating in much detail helped me to get a feeling for the right amounts and combinations for each meal I was eating.

Surviving the Marathon des Sables on the most simple breakfast made of 100 g of rolled oats and water made me think twice and from then on, maintaining a simple approach.

If you look at the top 2% ultra runners that are ruling the races currently and understand what these ultra runners eat for breakfast then it goes to show that they don´t waste much time on measuring and calculating every bite.

Are you still looking for that perfect solution knowing that you won´t suffer from gut distress?

I´m curious what your favorite breakfast is? Which foods have proven to be your most ideal one on race morning or right before a long run?

Share your secret tip and let me know what your thoughts are. I look forward to be reading your comment. Just leave `em right below!

 

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Choosing The Right Amounts Of Food Before And During A Run

How much food do you eat before starting your run?

Do you know which amounts of food you need without getting an upset stomach?

It is interesting that you can actually train your body (and mind!) to get used to digesting foods that are eaten shortly before a run and even during training.

Without the nasty surprises of getting stomach cramps or even feeling sick.

I show you what you can do to become a good eater before and during your run. And it´ll all pay off in your next race. You´ll see why here…

Years ago this was really tough for me and it took me a while to change my mindset from thinking that running on an empty stomach is actually better. I preferred to feel light in my body. A bad mistake with little to no perspective of ever stepping up to an ultra marathon without sorting out my diet in training.

Then I started practicing. The result was that I could sustain higher levels of energy throughout the entire run. It was just a matter of trying and testing different amounts of foods and drinks.

These days I can basically eat any healthy and nutritious snacks right before a run and if necessary during my training.

The more you practice eating a small amount before you start running the better you can handle your food intake during a race. Because that´s where it all comes together. The more you have “taught” your body to tolerate food intake during running the less nasty surprises you can expect.

Have you been dealing with this issue and if so, what solutions did you find? Share your insights here as your words might be exactly someone else´s cure.

 

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Does Compression Wear Really Make A Big Difference On Longer Runs?

HighCarb writes: I usually wear compression pants for longer runs (more than 30k). Last week I ran 35k (including +- 1200m of elevation gain/loss) without them. What a difference!

After the second last uphill at km 30 my legs started getting really tired and stiff. I have not experienced anything like that for quite a long time.

Obviously, compression works for me.

However, this experience makes me wonder if I should do my training runs without compression and rather wear compression pants afterwards for regeneration.

I wonder if your legs can get used to the assistance provided by compression so that over time you lose the benefit and develop a dependency.

My answer: Thanks for the very informative article and sharing your experience.

I understand the effect you are describing. I was once at the same point feeling dependent on compression wear for running, specially running tights and socks.

The effect is definitely noticeable. However, one layer of clothing cannot have the expected effect for kilometres and hours on end.

It is more so the mind that sends the trigger that compression wear is going to prolong fatigue, hence your muscle have a greater capacity to handle the training load. And that without them you are lost and start feeling stiff.

Bottom line: No clothing material can ever replace adequate training.

A really purposeful way to use compression tights is AFTER long runs or very intense speed workouts. It is the supportive effect more than anything else that can aid recovery to a small degree.

If you spend money on innovative running gear than it´s probably better to invest into high quality socks, a decent running jacket or/and another pair of your favorite running shoes.

 

Now it´s your turn. What´s your personal opinion on compression socks and tights? Do you think it´s something more than just clever marketing?

Leave your comment below and share what you have to say. I look forward to join the conversation.

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Are Liquid Carbs A Better Overall Strategy To Use In Ultra Marathon Races?

This is an interesting question coming from John.

Do you find yourself in the situation each time you´re getting ready for a race? Not feeling 100% sure about whether to risk running on liquid carbs or rather opt for a combination of solid foods and liquid carbs?

 

 

It used to be that 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour was considered a sufficient amount for endurance athletes. Around the time when I was preparing for the Marathon des Sables in 2008 hell broke loose when experts talked about increasing the intake of carbohydrates to 80-90 grams per hour in order to reap more energy and perform to an optimum.

I followed this new “rule” and had a perfect race – not just from a nutritional standpoint.

When it comes to selecting the foods for any given race I leave ZERO to chance, nothing. I am a perfectionist, calculate and measure everything so I can have a calm time out on the race course and worry about my running.

I follow a strict rhythm and practice in training when exactly I need to ingest calories and think of my body as the tank of a vehicle I need to fuel. I use the aid stations to fuel up on water and only eat what is being offered on the last 20 K before the finish. By that stage I will often crave salty and solid foods like potatoes or plain sandwiches.

Maybe you know already whether you´re more of an “all-you-can-eat-runner”  or you need to be careful about what you ingest in order not to suffer from an upset stomach.

In any case, the bottom line is to find out what suits you best by testing various options in your training, specially on long runs. And avoiding the trap of experimenting with the unknowns on race day.

Which approach has helped you the most? What´s your tip for anyone struggling with ingesting foods in training and racing?

Join the conversation and leave your comment right below.

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How To Lose Those Extra Unwanted Pounds

It´s time for another round of Q & A.  Just recently I received a question I´d like to share with you.

Lito writes: Lately, I’ve been too busy with work with lots of late night activities on projects I’m working on.

Reason for getting some unwanted extra pounds.

Although I tried to do some running when I could free up the time and also threw in some brisk walks those fats just wouldn´t come off.  Any suggestions?

Yes, I do.

There is a simple formula that helps to understand what it takes to shed some extra weight. Forget counting calories and skip the obvious devils that are consumed without even thinking about it. 

It´s often not an easy task to lose weight and keep it off long-term.

Even if you´re training a lot, running five times per week, doing some additional swimming, hiking, climbing and biking…sometimes it´s a compensational kind of eating that lets you pile on the weight. That extra glass of wine, fast food, even too many nuts, seeds and oils can have the same effect.

What are you to do?

Simply, turn towards more conscious choices and select your food differently. Ask yourself before you eat something whether it is going to make you feel energetic or drained. And I´ve got more tips for you in this week´s video. See what you can take away for yourself and also share your tips and insights.

What do you do in times of increased stress levels so you can maintain your weight?

Or, if you are also struggling with some extra pounds, do you have an ultimate tip on how to turn away from the “bad” foods, a mental trigger and tip you want to share?

Just leave a comment below…I look forward to hear from you.

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You Can Do Magic… With These Mental Techniques For Running

Mary and I have covered the main parts of how you can accomplish your goal. Now we highlight on the mental techniques for running and to fire up your mind.

You´ll know how you can shift your thoughts in the right direction to achieve literally any of your ultra marathon goals.

It doesn´t take much. No guru. No scientist. No special teacher.

I´ve found with many of the athletes I have coached up until this day this crucial part of training is often neglected. People that have practiced certain techniques like meditation have achieved their goal far easier than those who haven´t. From my experience, 50% of a race is run in your mind.

You have a much easier time out on the race course if you´ve dedicated some quality time to the art of sitting still. Far from any distractions and using only ten minutes of your spare time to visualize your goal. Inhaling the feeling of reaching that finish line and having given your best.

You create the way you want to perform in your mind – yes, it´s that simple and easy.

Even if it´s just for you to say: I have done all that I could to prepare myself for this race. Part of it is training your mind and using the power of your thoughts to influence you in a positive way when you hit the wall.

Ready…sit back and be ready to fire up your mind.

 

Share your thoughts and spread the word on the mental strategy and the relaxation technique you use. Right below…

 

 

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How To Deal With Food Allergies And Other Issues…And Sticking To A Diet That Works

In our first podcast, Mary and I talked about her background and motivation going from Iron Woman to Ultra Woman out of sheer curiosity and being on a mission to find out what´s beyond the classic marathon distance.

Mary is quite an expert in the field of (raw) vegan diets. Over the years, she´s found that eating mainly whole foods influence her in such a positive way that she feels energized and is able to perform on a high level in training and in races.

When she lived in Japan for a while Mary discovered a new and healthier way of eating and gradually integrated those foods into her daily routine. The initial and long-term benefits never made her go back to the traditional diet.

In part 2 of this series we discuss pre-race nutrition, overcoming food allergies, handling food addictions, supplements and initial tips to try to eat healthier.

But - I don´t want you to think that chewing on raw greens all day does the trick.

It´s about making more small conscious choices about the foods you pick every day.

A healthy diet is not based on restrictions but on enjoying a natural, less stressful approach of making good choices for at least 80% of the time 😉

In our chat, Mary and I discuss one of many different ways to eat healthy. It is impossible to claim one particular diet as the only good one. Ultimately, eating right is as complex as finding the perfect training. It simply does not exist.

Nutritious food is about having sustained energy levels instead of eating stuff that makes you feel drained. Getting 80% of your diet right is all you need to do. The rest is about a well-structured training plan, working on the mental game and doing those highly-efficient exercises.

So sit back and relax for a few minutes or simply download the podcast and listen to it on your next easy run...

Now it´s your turn and I´d like to hear from you what type of diet works for you? Or what do you most struggle with in a world of so much choice? What are your every day staple foods?

Join the community and drop me a comment below. Because your feedback can help so many others.