Pacing while racing – Marc Laithwaite

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So last week we discussed training at the correct intensity during long, endurance sessions. This week, we are following a similar theme but we are focusing more on race strategy and how to pace yourself during an event. Many of the things we’ve discussed in the past weeks are critical not just for training but also during competition, so let’s complete an overview of past topics and how they relate to race pacing:

  1. For longer events, fat utilisation is critical to prevent glycogen stores depleting quickly. You should have optimised this in training beforehand, but during your race, riding and running at the correct intensity is critical. If your race pace is too quick, then you are in danger of running your glycogen stores low, resulting in a poor performance.
  1. Maintain a constant intensity and avoiding spikes is also critical. If you push hard on uphills and recover on the downhills, your intensity will vary greatly throughout the race. Remember, when you pick your intensity for any event, average figures (average heart rate or average power) or pretty useless as a guide. You need to hold the intensity constant, with little change in intensity. If you aim to ride or run at a heart rate figure of 130 beats per minute, then set yourself a tight range of 125-135 for the duration of the event. Slow on the uphills and hold pace on the flat and downhills.
  1. Avoid the fast start or you’ll suffer later in the event. It’s very clear watching ironman races, marathon and ultra races that at least 90% of the field start at a quicker pace than they finish. There are 3 main reasons for this: The first is that you are fresh, so going hard feels easy. Coupled with this, you have an adrenaline shot at the start, so this exaggerates how good you feel. The killer shot is the fact that everyone else feels the same, so they all go too quick and it takes a very brave person not to react and follow everyone else!

There is an element of sheer panic for many people during the first hour of an event, when riders and runners are streaming past them at a quicker pace. From a psychological standpoint, this is incredibly difficult to handle, so we inevitably end up going with the flow of traffic and picking up our pace.

Here’s the thing, most of those people passing you in the early hours of an ironman bike course, or the opening miles of an ultra race, will be walking huge chunks of the event in the latter stages. If your better pacing means that you are still running in the latter stages, any time losses now will be erased and reversed without any issues whatsoever. In fact, many of them might actually drop out and not even finish!! This is the most important race of the year for you, having spent 12 months preparing, are you going to blindly follow someone who is pacing the event badly? Knowing deep inside that you’re riding or running at the wrong pace, are you going to chase them, only to ‘blow up’ in spectacular fashion later in the day and destroy your chances of a great performance? Sound stupid? Well that’s how a lot of people race.

Focus on the process and not on the outcome

Let’s make this very simple. In a long distance endurance event, you can only go at the pace that YOU are able to sustain for the duration of the event, what everyone else does, should not affect your race strategy. Prior to your event, you should have a pre-set intensity that you are intending to sustain. You may have a power meter on your bike to measure watts or you may have a heart rate monitor to gauge how hard you are working. Once you have that pre-set intensity, you should stick to it and ignore all other competitors. This concept is termed ‘process orientated’ as opposed to ‘goal orientated’ racing.

What’s the difference?

Goal orientated is simple, you set a target of 12 hours for your event and you swim, ride or run as fast as required to achieve that 12 hour time. It doesn’t matter if you’re going quicker than you can handle, you simply chase the pre-set time. Process orientated refers to you focusing on the process of swimming, cycling and running at the right pace. Following a nutrition plan and doing all the things you’ve trained to do beforehand. You focus on the process only and ultimately, when you reach the line, the finish time is whatever the finish time is. What’s key, is that is you focus well on the processes, your finish time will be the best you are capable of on that day.

Process orientated racing works best in longer events as tactics play less of a role. You can’t control who enters the event and you can’t control how well those people race. As a consequence, you cannot control your finish position at the end of the day. The only thing you CAN control is your own pacing and race strategy, to give you the best possible chance of achieving the finish time you hoped for.

Live in the here and now

Ultimately, whilst you will have a pre-set pacing plan, you will have to be flexible on the day. Your pacing strategy and other actions should be based on the ‘here and now’. You should be making regular checks and asking yourself how you feel at that moment in time and whether there is anything you need to do as a consequence. For example, if you had planned to run at 5 minutes per Km pace and you feel that pace slowing, then you should not panic. Instead, think about what you need to do at that time to solve the problem. Do you need to eat and drink? Do you need to slow a little? Be flexible, don’t just continue in a blind manner trying to hold the same pace or it will result in a major collapse.

One of the key things to remember when competing in long distance events such as Ironman or ultra running is that energy can fluctuate. In a simple marathon race, you tend to feel ok at the start and then gradually get worse as the event progresses. In an Ironman marathon or ultra race, you can have patched where you have to walk because you feel so low, but 5 miles later, you may be running at a strong pace.

When you have a drop in energy, don’t lose focus and don’t lose your head. That’s the point where lots of people just give up, start walking and never start running again. Focus on the here and now, what do you have to do to solve the problem and get back to the plan? Whatever happens, you can only be as good as you can be on that particular day. If you focus on the processes, you’ll know that when you cross that line, that’s as good as you are, for today at least.

– Marc Laithwaite

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

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Gediminas Grinius – Transgrancanaria 2015

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Gediminas Grinius took a few people by surprise at the 2015 Transgrancanaria… not me I am pleased to say!

In my pre-race preview I went on to say:

 “Gediminas Grinius had a stunning 2014 with 3rd, 5th and 4th places at Lavaredo, UTMB and Raid de la Reunion. Three tough races! Based on these performances, Gediminas has all the potential to podium once again and should all things align, he may even win.”

Win he did and he set a new course record beating Ryan Sandes 2014 time and over a longer course.

This week on TALK ULTRA podcast (released Friday 20th March) we have a full and in-depth interview Gediminas and he has quite a story… in the meantime, read about his journey on the inov8 website:

HERE

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Pacing Strategy – Marc Laithwaite

Pace

Over the last 4 weeks, we’ve discussed how you can manipulate your diet to enhance fat burning and your endurance performances. This week, we look at the missing piece of the jigsaw, which is training intensity and more importantly, pacing strategy.

The basics of fat metabolism for endurance athletes are simple and based on 2 key factors. First, you can change your diet in some way to enhance fat usage (e.g. riding / running fasted). Next, you can adopt a ride / run strategy (intensity and pacing), which encourages fat usage during training and racing. You can opt to do only one or the other of these things. But in reality, if you couple them both together you’ll have the biggest impact.

We’ve discussed diet, so today we are going to talk about ride and run strategy in terms of pacing and intensity, for running and cycling. So let’s outline some of the basic things, which you may already know and if not, you need to know:

  1. I stressed last week that every session should have a key objective and therefore a key intensity to obtain that objective. The biggest error is people doing ‘hard stuff too easy’ and ‘easy stuff too hard’. Generally they are linked by the fact that if you do the ‘easy stuff too hard’ you’re too knackered the following day to do the ‘hard stuff hard’. As a result, everything tends to fall into a grey, middle area.
  2. The 2 key objectives of the long easy session for ironman competitors or marathon and ultra runners are generally to utilise fat for better fuel economy and to ‘complete the distance’ (time in the saddle or time on feet). If you don’t ride at the correct intensity, you will hit neither of those objectives, due to the following problems:
  3. At lower intensities, total energy expenditure (kcal per hour) is lower and fat usage is higher. This means that only a small amount of energy comes from carbohydrates and your body has the opportunity to practice using fat, which is necessary for the process to become more efficient. OBJECTIVE 1: If you do not run / ride at the correct intensity, you will not develop effective fat burning.
  4. Because riding and running at a higher intensity uses more energy and generates more muscular fatigue, it’s not rocket science that you will have to stop earlier. This is NOT just based on fat / fuel usage, there are other factors at play related to muscle damage and fatigue. As a result, many ironman triathletes or marathon and ultra runners are not reaching target distances and stopping short on long rides or runs. OBJECTIVE 2: If you do not run / ride at the correct intensity, you will not be able to reach your target distances for your training rides and runs.

As outlined above, the 2 key objectives are enhancing fuel use and maximising distance and to achieve both, the intensity must be correct. If you’re using Maffetone as discussed 4 weeks ago, then you’re all set. If you’re not then for most people, the intensity we are discussing is zone 1, which is comfortable conversation pace.

You can use heart rate to monitor your training intensity and cyclists can also use power devices to do the same job. Let’s take heart rate as an example and consider the following scenario as an example:

Tom has a zone 1 cycling heart rate of 118-128 and uses his heart rate monitor when completing all his ironman cycle training. We know that Tom will maximise both his fat usage and can maximise his training distance by holding his heart rate steady within Zone 1.

Avoiding the spikes

One key thing to take into account when riding in Zone 1 is avoiding spikes. If Tom completed his long Sunday ride and reported an average heart rate of 124, it first appears that he has ridden to plan. Unfortunately upon closer inspection, he spent half his time at a heart rate of 148 climbing hills and the other half of his time at 100 rolling down the other side, thereby generating an average of 124. Whilst the AVERAGE looks correct, the TIME IN ZONE was very poor.

Every time you push hard on hills and allow your heart rate to rise out of Zone 1, your metabolism switches from high fat usage to high carbohydrate usage. Not only is there a switch to carbohydrate, you guzzle the fuel as if there’s no marathon to come. I would liken this to driving your car and every time you reach a hill, changing into first gear and flooring the accelerator, for those old enough to remember you can also pull the choke out for good measure.

OBJECTIVE 1: Tom is not practicing fat burning during his ride. Every time he pushes on the hills, fat usage ‘drops out’ and only returns when the body has stabilised a few miles later.

OBJECTIVE 2: Tom is guzzling fuel at such a high rate, he completes 60 miles of his planned 100 mile ride and is pretty knackered so calls it a day. Tom feels that despite the event being 112 miles (plus the marathon to follow), 60 will suffice. Good luck with that one Tom.

Q: Surely if I’m riding harder that’s more beneficial as my fitness will improve?

A: Not really, you’ve failed on both key objectives. If your training is planned correctly, you should be doing other sessions which will include ‘harder riding or running’ to cover that aspect of fitness.

Where does this all this go wrong?

  1. Riding very hilly courses makes it difficult to keep heart rate in zone 1 and it also makes it difficult to ‘flat line’ heart rate, keeping it constant and avoiding spikes. You need to really focus on ‘backing off’ on the climbs and using a heart rate or power meter as a guide.
  2. Riding in a group makes this problem 10 times worse as most cyclists will naturally want to show their counterparts (tends to be relevant for blokes, not women) that they are stronger than anyone else in the group. As a result, Sunday rides can tend to be a short hard interval up each hill, followed by long periods of recovering and spinning at low intensity.

Key points to take away:

  1. Ride to zone and most important, you need to take out the spikes on the hills, to maximise metabolic benefits.
  2. Start easy on your ride. There is a real tendency amongst amateur athletes to ride way too hard in the first hour or two, which results in a huge drop off later in the ride (again, this is more likely in groups). Hold back and soft pedal for the first couple of hours to allow a long aerobic warm up and better energy levels later in the ride.
  3. If you ride with others, your options are to explain the benefits to them and change their mentality, let them go on the hills, change your group or ride alone.
  4. If you are riding more consistently in zone 1, you should make every effort to maximise distance. If you are currently riding 60 miles or running 13 miles in training, by dropping and controlling the heart rate, you should be capable of increasing the distance and progressing closer to 100 for cycling or 20 for running.

- Marc Laithwaite

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

Endurance Store Logo

Marathon des Sables 2015 (30th Edition) – RACE PREVIEW

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MDS, Marathon des Sables, The Toughest Race in the World… whatever you want to call it, the 30th edition is just around the corner. Think about it, 30-years. It’s quite incredible how this race has grown and has become ‘the’ multiday race to do irrespective of experience. It was the first and arguably is still the best offering an ultimate adventure for novice and experienced runner.

Many a runner has started a passion for running at MDS and as such; the race will always be an important landmark for many. But it’s more than a race. It’s an experience, it’s escape and it’s a challenge.

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The combination of self-sufficiency, life in bivouac and running 250-km’s through the heat of the Sahara is something that those that have experienced it will never forget. It is the story of life, a story of men and women who have come to the heart of the desert to rid themselves of the superficial to keep only the essentials and get in touch with their true selves.

For the past three decades, some 18,000 runners have signed up for this experience, so, with the imminent running of the 2015 edition, it’s fair to say that race will see a great number of participants returning to ‘celebrate’ a very important birthday.

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Lasting six days participants must be self-sufficient carrying everything they need in a pack. Water is provided but rationed and a tent (bivouac) is provided each evening that must be shared with seven other participants.

The 2015 edition of the race will be 250-km’s offering a series of challenges that will test the mind and body in equal measure. Dunes, djebels, ergs and dried-up lakes offer a stunning backdrop that must be traversed. Battling against sand, heat and above all the mind completing the 30th edition of the Marathon des Sables will be a dream come true for those who toe the line.

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THE ROUTE for 2015

Stage 1 – Sunday 5th April

Here we have a very uneven playing field and a sufficient number of kilometers to make their presence felt. Competitors will have to run, avoid the obstacles and climb the surrounding uphill sections. The first dunes are between CP1 and CP2. It is fair to say that day-1 of the 30th MARATHON DES SABLES will be a long one.

Stage 2 – Monday 6th April

Those who imagine the desert to be flat are in for a surprise. Three steep little climbs form this second leg, with gradients reaching 30%… A new kind of roller-coaster ride which will open up landscapes that will be a sight to behold.

Stage 3 – Tuesday 7th April

Sand will be omnipresent today with some stony sections and some dried-up lakes. There will be a little something for everyone with some uphill sections here and there.

Stage 4 – Wednesday 8 / Thursday 9 April

A tough initial climb will hurt the legs, especially as it’s going to be a long day. Indeed this particular day will be the longest leg in the history of the MDS. And if that wasn’t enough, a climb of nearly a kilometer up a djebel awaits. At the summit runners will have 360° panoramic views. As for the descent, well it’s steep! After that, runners then traverse dunes, dried-up lakes and more dunes!

Stage 5 – Friday 10 April

Today’s route has a mixture of terrain that are hallmarks of the MDS, it’s a classic day!

Stage 6 -Saturday 11 April – SOLIDARITY UNICEF legs

For the majority of the participants, this leg is
a time for reflecting on the experience of this fine human adventure and is a united show of awareness before returning to civilization.

RUNNERS TO WATCH

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Antoine Guillon was second three times, third once and fourth three times in the Diagonale des Fous in addition, he is always well placed in the UTMB. Offered a place by the UTWT, Antoine will try his luck in the 30th MDS for the first time. Antoine just placed 3rd at Transgrancanaria, so his form is good. Can he recover in time?

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Christophe Le Saux never seazes to amaze me with his relentless racing calendar, he was 10th in 2014, 9th in 2013, 6th in 2012.

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Carlos Sà is a regular at MDS and has a wealth of talent and experience to excel. He was 4th last year’s, 7th in 2013. 4th in 2012 and 8th in 2011.

Dave Mackey has been one of the top American ultra runners for many years and he has excelled at the 100-km distance. His participation at MDS marks a new departure for him and it will be interesting to see how he handles racing over multiple days.

Javier Teixido Marti-Ventosa is the 2014 winner of the Andorra Ultra-Trail Ultra-Mitic (112km).

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Danny Kendall gets a nod from a UK perspective. He placed 5th last year and we can only hope that he moves up the rankings with a podium place. He knows the race, he knows the conditions and he understands survival in the Sahara; he just needs to bring it all together once again.

All six will be attempting to topple the Moroccan and Jordanian supremacy by keeping a close eye on the following:

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Mohamad Ahansal like his brother, Lahcen needs no introduction. He has 15 participations in the MDS, which includes 5 victories. He has been 2nd no less than 9 times and 3rd in 2014.

Abdelkader El Mouaziz placed 7th in 2014 on his first participation, he will be looking to improve in 2015.

Samir Akhdar has had several participations at MDS placing 6th in 2011 and 7th in 2009. 
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Salameh Al Aqra is always smiling and a great presence in the race, he was 1st in 2012, 2nd in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2014 and placed 3rd in 2009 and 2011.

In the female contingent:

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Laurence Klein targets her 4th victory after making the podium in 2014 and 2013.

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Meghan Hicks champion in 2013, missed 2014 through injury and will be setting her sights on a 2nd win.

Liza Howard is the holder of a number of 100-mile race records and American champion over 100km and 50 miles in 2011, should have what it takes to treat the United States to a third crown in a row after Nikki Kimball and Meghan Hicks.

INSPIRING STORIES:

Moroccan Lahcen Ahansal, ten-time winner of the
MDS between 1997 and 2007 is
making a comeback this year after six years
absence. “I wanted to hook back up with this race through
a goal that isn’t purely competitive, but also human”, admits
the athlete who has agreed to act as a guide to the partially
sighted German runner, Harald Lange. “After pulling off the
challenge of securing 10 victories, I now want to rack up 20
participations. And why not be around for the 40th and 50th
editions too?” It should be said that Lahcen has not forgotten
his encounter with this legendary race, which has transformed his life. “I looked on with curiosity and amazement as the 23 athletes took the start of the first edition in 1986. From then on, I constantly dreamt that I, a nomadic child, would participate in this race. It has spurred on my life and created in me such a strong desire for sporting and human emancipation that I moved mountains to make my dream a reality some seven years later. It’s thanks to this race that I’ve become the man I am today.” Also of note, is the fact that another blind runner will participate in this edition as Didier Benguigui is returning with his guide, Gilles Clain, to celebrate his 11th edition.

The “4 Dinosaurs MDS” team comprises two French runners, Christian Ginter and François Cresci, one Moroccan, Karim Mosta and one Italian, Paolo Zubani, none of whom wanted to miss the 30th anniversary of the SULTAN MARATHON DES SABLES. Between them, these four passionate runners already boast a total of 105 participations, which amounts to 27 out of 29 editions for the restaurant owner-chef Christian Ginter and 26 for the other three. “The idea of creating a team of veterans came about in the tent last year”, beams Karim Mosta, the cheerful leader of this group of friends, who wouldn’t miss this key stage

The famous British explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, is embarking on a new adventure at 71 years of age. After earning the title of first man to reach the North and South Poles via land, the first person to traverse the Antarctic entirely on foot and the oldest Briton to climb Everest at 65 years of age, he now wants to become the oldest Briton to etch his name on the list of SULTAN MARATHON DES SABLES 2015’ medalists.

At 83 years of age, Joseph Le Louarn will be the most senior participant in this 30th edition. “I said that I’d stop in 2012, at 80, but with the energy drummed up by this anniversary, I couldn’t resist,” smiles the runner who has always loved ‘ambitious projects’. Indeed some three years ago he was quoted as saying “Card games and meals for retired people aren’t for me. I need to move; I need goals. I want to stay fit for as long as possible.”

A native of Luxembourg, Simone Kayser Diederich, 3-time champion of the MARATHON DES SABLES (2002, 2004 and 2005), will take the start of this 30th edition to celebrate her 60th birthday and her 14th participation. It’s a similar scenario for Moroccan Nadia Dadoun, 56, who will celebrate her 16th participation in this SULTAN MARATHON DES SABLES 2015, which is a record number of entries among the event’s female contingent.

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CRAZY STATS:

  • 150 volunteers to supervise the race,
  • 450 general support staff,
  • 120,000 liters of bottled mineral water,
  • 300 Berber and Saharan tents,
  • 120 all-terrain vehicles and trucks,
  • 2 Squirrel helicopters and 1 Cessna plane,
  • 8 Transavia ‘MDS special’ commercial planes,
  • 30 buses,
  • 4 dromedaries,
  • 1 incinerator lorry for burning waste,
  • 5 quad bikes to monitor race environment and safety,
  • 72 medical staff,
  • 2.3kms of Elastoplast,
  • 12,200 compresses,
  • 6,000 painkillers,
  • 150 liters of disinfectant,
  • 1 editing bus,
  • 5 cameras,
  • 1 satellite image station,
  • 10 satellite telephones,
  • 30 computers, fax and internet,
  • 18,000 competitors since 1986
  • 30% returning competitors, 70% international, 30% French, 
17% women, 45% veterans, 
30% in teams, 
10% walkers, 
90% alternate walking and running,
  • 14 km/hr.: average maximum speed, 3 km/hr.: average minimum speed,
  • 15 years of age for the youngest competitor and the oldest, 83!

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QUOTES

  • “The MARATHON DES SABLES is the United Nations. The runners come from all over the world, share the same emotions and help one another. All the boundaries are erased. We should take inspiration from it.” - Kirk McCall (United States)
  • “This event isn’t just a sporting activity. It’s a mental and philosophical process. In the desert, nature puts us back in our place at the heart of this environment. The MARATHON DES SABLES opens up new perspectives to us. People often think we’re crazy, but maybe they’re the crazy ones!” – Fernando Jose Castro Cabral (Brazil)
  • “The MARATHON DES SABLES represents Mecca. I come here for an annual pilgrimage. It purifies me.” – Amine Kabbaj (Morocco)
  • “Running in the desert purges me and enables me to empty my mind. I want to discover the desert by experiencing it from the inside. Each day, I recite a poem along the course. To think about poetry whilst running is a fantastic mental luxury. To run and be elsewhere through your thoughts… The sobriety of the desert is a source of inspiration.” - Duc Le Quang (Vietnam)
  • “In the MARATHON DES SABLES, you learn to rediscover and appreciate the simple pleasures. On top of that there is this solidarity between the runners. You run and you come across someone from Colombia, Portugal or China. You don’t know them but you share a moment with them. These encounters are worth all the money in the world.” – Nicolas Esterhazy (Belgium)

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Twenty-Nine years of victories.

Here is a who’s who of those 29-years.

1986 – Michel GALLIEZ (FRANCE) – Christiane PLUMERE (FRANCE)

1987 – Bernard GAUDIN (FRANCE) – Marie-Ange MALCUIT (FRANCE)

1988 – Bernard GAUDIN (FRANCE) – Marie-Ange MALCUIT (FRANCE)

1989 – Hassan SEBTAOUI (FRANCE) – Marie-Claude BATTISTELLI (FRANCE)

1990 – Hassan SEBTAOUI (FRANCE) – Claire GARNIER (FRANCE)

1991 – Hassan SEBTAOUI (FRANCE) – Monique FRUSSOTE (FRANCE)

1992 – Mohamed BENSALAH (MOROCCO) – Monique FRUSSOTE (FRANCE)

1993 – Mohamed BENSALAH (MOROCCO) – Irina PETROVNA (RUSSIA)

1994 – André DERKSEN (RUSSIA) – Valentina LIAKHOVA (RUSSIA)

1995 – André DERKSEN (RUSSIA) – Béatrice REYMANN (FRANCE)

1996 – André DERKSEN (RUSSIA) – Anke MOLKENTHIN (GERMANY)

1997 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Rosanna PELLIZZARI (ITALY)

1998 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Rosanna PELLIZZARI (ITALY)

1999 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Lisa SMITH (USA)

2000 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Pascale MARTIN (FRANCE)

2001 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Franca FIACCONI (ITALY)

2002 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Simone KAYSER (LUXEMBOURG)

2003 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Magali JUVENAL (FRANCE)

2004 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Simone KAYSER (LUXEMBOURG)

2005 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Simone KAYSER (LUX)

2006 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Géraldine COURDESSE (FRANCE)

2007 – Lahcen AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Laurence KLEIN (FRANCE)

2008 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Touda DIDI (MOROCCO)

2009 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Touda DIDI (MOROCCO)

2010 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Monica AGUILERA (SPAIN)

2011 – Rachid EL MORABITY (MOROCCO) – Laurence KLEIN (FRANCE)

2012 – Salameh AL AQRA (JORDAN) – Laurence KLEIN (FRANCE)

2013 – Mohamad AHANSAL (MOROCCO) – Meghan HICKS (USA)

2014 – Rachid ELMORABITY (MOROCCO) – Nikki KIMBALL (USA)

 

RACE SCHEDULE 2015

 

  • 3 April 2015 – Leave country of residence/Morocco – Arrival in Ouarzazate, bus transfer to 1st bivouac
  • 4 April 2015 – Administrative, technical and medical checks – Day to acclimatize 
  • From 5 to 10 April 2015 – Race in progress (The self-sufficiency begins from breakfast on the 1st leg)
  • 11 April 2015 – Solidarity UNICEF leg – (end of dietary self-sufficiency) – Transfer to Ouarzazate
  • 12 April 2015  – Day of relaxation
  • 13 April 2015 – Return to country of residence

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Marathon des Sables – A history in brief

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1984: At 28 years of age, Patrick Bauer decided to make for the Sahara to try to traverse a 350km expanse of uninhabited desert, on foot, alone, where he wouldn’t come into contact with a single village, oasis or watering place. Totally self-sufficient, with a rucksack weighing 35kg and containing water and food, he set off on a journey that was to last 12 days. It was the starting point of what was to become the MARATHON DES SABLES.

1986: The creation of the first MDS in the Moroccan Sahara. The 23 pioneers who took the start never imagined that their footprints would mark the start of a legendary event, which has today become a must among the major adventure sport meets. The creation of a non-mechanical competition in the Moroccan sands offers adventure runners a wealth of new prospects.

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1987: Creation of the MDS logo: the face of a runner covered by a keffiyeh, the eyes protected by a pair of sunglasses and the pipette from the runner’s water container clenched between the teeth.

1989: 170 competitors take the start of the race.

1991: The gulf drama puts the MDS at a disadvantage and the financial partners withdraw. Fortunately some runners answer the call. For these competitors, the true victory lies in meeting athletes from different backgrounds and their communion in the desert around the same goal. Sport proves once again that it can bring people together and create bonds.

©iancorless.com.IMG_6041MDS2014

1992: One and the same regulation for everyone. This year sees the establishing of unexpected draconian tests, to ensure that each participant properly transports all his or her gear from one end of the course to the other. A 30-point charter is drawn up.

First participation by the Moroccan Lahcen Ahansal

1994: Arrival of the Doc Trotters at the event.

©iancorless.com.IMG_1738MDS2014

1995: 10th anniversary. Since the start, over 1,500 men and women have left their footprint and their passion in the desert. Installation of water-pump for the inhabitants of the village of Ighef n’rifi (South of Er-Rachidia) – an idea by competitor Gilles Flamant and backed by Rolland Barthes and Patrick Bauer. Its success is to be repeated again and again

1996: First participation by Mohamed, a younger sibling of Ahansal. The two Moroccan brothers set off together and rank 4th and 5th respectively.

1997: This year heralds the start of the Ahansal saga. Morocco is honored with Lahcen’s first victory. He beats his two pursuers by nearly 30 minutes, despite them being international long-distance running champions.

1999: A mobile hospital on the MDS comes into being. There are around thirty practitioners on the ground, with doctors and nurses joining the caravan. A dedicated helicopter and ten all-terrain vehicles track the competitors each day. On- board these vehicles there are doctors of course, as well as high-tech equipment. The village boasts a genuine field hospital.

©iancorless.com.IMG_0977MDS2014

2000: Internet puts in an appearance in the large MDS village. The organization decides to broadcast the texts and photos of the race live, day after day. The competitors can communicate with their nearest and dearest and receive messages of encouragement.

2001: For the first time the long leg, traditionally called “The 70”, exceeds the 80km barrier to reach 82km. The threshold of 240km is also surpassed since the 16th MARATHON DES SABLES spans 243km. Another first relates to the fact that there are no Moroccans on the podium this year.

2002: This edition is punctuated by a sandstorm, involving headwinds, which lasts the entire week. The doctors invent a machine for ‘low pressure cleansing’ to rinse out the runners’ eyes. Despite the difficult conditions, there are few retirements to report as the wind considerably reduces the temperature.

2005: The Luxembourg runner Simone Kayser is the first woman to win 3 MARATHON DES SABLES. For this 20th edition, the total number of runners exceeds 700 for the first time, with no fewer than 777 runners taking the start.

©iancorless.com.IMG_1007MDS2014

2006: A drying wind and very high humidity levels cause damage to the runners’ bodies. Despite additional allocations of water, a whole series of retirements ensues. There are a total of 146 retirements ultimately, which equates to double that of the previous record… Race management decides to shorten the long leg by over 10km given how tired the runners seem.

2008: The Solidarité MDS association is created. The aim: to develop projects to assist children and disadvantaged populations in the domains of health, education and sustainable development in Morocco. 

2009: MDS is disrupted by flooding and the 1st and 6th stages are not able to take place. To avoid the flood zones, the organization is obliged to improvise new legs on a day-to-day basis. In this way, the edition goes down in legend for its 3rd leg, which is the longest ever contested: 92km of sand, loose stones and rocks… The leg even sees the retirement of Lahcen Ahansal… At the prize giving the 2 winners admit to having competed in their hardest MDS. However, it was also the shortest: 202km.

©iancorless.com.IMG_0884MDS2014

2010: For its 25th edition, the number of participations reaches a record high of 1,013 participants. It is to be the longest MARATHON DES SABLES. It spans 250 kilometers with a course considered by former entrants to be the most difficult ever organized.

2012: A dramatic turn of events on the longest leg as the then leader in the overall standing, Rachid El Morabity (MAR) injures himself one kilometer from the finish. Medical examinations reveal a serious muscular lesion in the quadriceps. After over five years on the 2nd or 3rd step of the podium, Jordanian Salameh Al Aqra secures the title.

2013: 1,027 competitors on the start line make this a new participation record. New feature: a final “Charity” stage sponsored by UNICEF and traversing the Merzouga dunes round off the race. Sportswise, Mohamad Ahansal and Megan Hicks are the champions of the 231.5km event. On a human level, all of the finishers pull off their crazy bet.

©iancorless.com.IMG_6561MDS2014

2014: 2011 winner, Moroccan Rachid El Morabity (MAR) wins the overall ranking and takes Mohamad Ahansal’s crown. In the women’s category, another American stamps her mark, Nikki Kimball. The French revelation is one Michaël Gras, 22 years of age, 8th overall and top Frenchman. A major athletics star, Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj lines up to take the start of Saturday’s Unicef Charity leg.

Content and information provided by ©marathondessables

FOLLOW THE 2015, 30th EDITION on this WEBSITE in words and images.

©iancorless.com.IMG_4947MDS2014

Episode 82 – CRACKNELL EGLOFF MUIR

Ep82

 

Episode 82 of Talk Ultra has James Cracknell talking about the mind of an Olympian, how to succeed at endurance sports and we announce two new projects for 2015. Karl Egloff just set a FKT for Aconcagua, we have a full and in-depth interview. Ruby Muir had a troubled 2014 but turned it around topping the podium at Tararwera. The News, a Blog, Up & Coming Races and in Talk Training we discuss final prep for MDS.

00:10:11 NEWS
 
Ultra Caballo Blanco cancelled! – HERE
 
Aconcagua FKT
Karl Egloff does it. 11:52 – 57-minutes quicker! News here: HERE
00:26:40 INTERVIEW
 
KARL EGLOFF provides us with an in-depth interview about his background and how he became the new record holder for Aconcagua.
Transgrancanaria as the show comes out – Race Preview HERE
01:51:00 BLOG
 
MIKE MURPHY provided a great interview in our last show, he writes here about his hints-n-tips for multi day racing -  HERE
01:56:36 INTERVIEW
 
RUBY MUIR had a tough 2014 with injury but she managed to bounce back with a victory at Tarawera
 
02:29:22 TALK TRAINING
 
RORY COLEMAN talks final prep for MDS
03:03:37 INTERVIEW
 
JAMES CRACKNELL is a double Olympian and an inspiring endurance athlete who has continually pushed to be the best that he can be. He made the top 20 of MDS and then an horrific head injury almost stopped everything… but he is back. We announce James’s next projects…
 
04:16:20 UP & COMING RACES
 

Australia

New South Wales

Wild Women on Top Sydney Coastrek 100 km Team Challenge | 100 kilometers | March 06, 2015 | website

Wild Women on Top Sydney Coastrek 50 km Team Challenge Day: Party All Night | 50 kilometers | March 06, 2015 | website

Wild Women on Top Sydney Coastrek 50 km Team Challenge Day: Sun, Sand, Surf | 50 kilometers | March 06, 2015 | website

Victoria

Maroondah Dam 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | March 15, 2015 | website

Razorback 58K Run | 58 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Razorback 64K Run | 64 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Cambodia

The Wild Elephant Trail | 210 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Canada

British Columbia

Dirty Duo 50 km Ultra | 50 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Yukon

6633 Extreme Winter Ultra Marathon – 120 mile | 120 miles | March 20, 2015 | website

6633 Extreme Winter Ultra Marathon – 350 mile | 350 miles | March 20, 2015 | website

Likeys Ultra 6633 – 120 Mile | 120 miles | March 20, 2015 | website

Likeys Ultra 6633 – 350 Mile | 350 miles | March 20, 2015 | website

France

Gard

Trail aux Etoiles | 58 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Ultra du Bout du Cirque | 100 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Haut-Rhin

Trail du Petit Ballon | 52 kilometers | March 15, 2015 | website

Pas-de-Calais

Trail Bullygeois des Tranchées – 63 km | 63 kilometers | March 15, 2015 | website

Trail Bullygeois des Tranchées – 85 km | 85 kilometers | March 15, 2015 | website

Tarn

Black Mountain Trail – 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Germany

Bavaria

Chiemsee-Ultramarathon März | 108 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Hong-Kong

Translantau 100 km | 100 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Translantau 50 km | 50 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Hungary

BSI Lake Balaton Marathon+ Fonyód – Szigliget | 52 kilometers | March 20, 2015 | website

BSI Lake Balaton Supermarathon | 195 kilometers | March 19, 2015 | website

Italy

Umbria

Trasimeno Lake Ultramarathon | 58 kilometers | March 08, 2015 | website

Veneto

Ultrabericus | 65 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Jordan

Sahara Race | 250 kilometers | March 08, 2015 | website

Malaysia

TITI 100KM | 100 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

TITI 200KM | 200 kilometers | March 06, 2015 | website

TITI 50KM | 50 kilometers | March 08, 2015 | website

New Zealand

Te Houtaewa Challenge 60 km Open Ultra Marathon | 60 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

The Hillary 80 km Trail Race | 80 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Philippines

All Women Ultra-Marathon | 50 kilometers | March 08, 2015 | website

TRD80 Ultramarathon | 80 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Spain

Andalusia

Ultra Trail Sierras del Bandolero | 150 kilometers | March 06, 2015 | website

Canary Islands

Transgrancanaria | 125 kilometers | March 06, 2015 | website

Transgrancanaria – Advanced | 84 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Catalonia

Marxa dels Castells PLUS | 81 kilometers | March 08, 2015 | website

UT les Fonts | 120 kilometers | March 06, 2015 | website

UT les Fonts – Trail de les Fonts | 70 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Thailand

Zulu W 80 km Run | 80 kilometers | March 08, 2015 | website

United Kingdom

Aberdeen City

D33 Ultra | 33 miles | March 14, 2015 | website

Bradford

Haworth Hobble | 32 miles | March 14, 2015 | website

Dorset

Jurassic Coast Challenge | 78 miles | March 20, 2015 | website

North Somerset

Green Man Ultra | 44 miles | March 07, 2015 | website

Wiltshire

Imber Ultra Marathon | 33 miles | March 08, 2015 | website

USA

Alabama

Delano Park 50 Mile Solo | 50 miles | March 07, 2015 | website

Alaska

Tanana River Challenge 45 Mile | 45 miles | March 14, 2015 | website

Arizona

Mesquite Canyon 50K | 50 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Mesquite Canyon 50M | 50 miles | March 14, 2015 | website

Old Man 52K | 52 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Old Pueblo 50 Miler | 50 miles | March 07, 2015 | website

Ultra Adventures Monument Valley 100 Mile | 100 miles | March 13, 2015 | website

Ultra Adventures Monument Valley 50K | 50 kilometers | March 13, 2015 | website

Ultra Adventures Monument Valley 50 Mile | 50 miles | March 14, 2015 | website

Arkansas

3 days of Syllamo | 150 kilometers | March 20, 2015 | website

California

Deo 50K | 50 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Marin Ultra Challenge 50K | 50 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Marin Ultra Challenge 50 Mile | 50 miles | March 14, 2015 | website

Old West Trails 50K Ultra | 50 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Way Too Cool 50k | 50 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Colorado

High Line Canal 100K | 100 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Florida

Cross Florida Route 40 Romp | 116 miles | March 07, 2015 | website

Cross Florida Route 40 Romp – 2 Person Relay | 116 miles | March 07, 2015 | website

DWD Green Swamp 50K | 50 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

DWD Green Swamp 50M | 50 miles | March 07, 2015 | website

Palm 100K | 100 kilometers | March 15, 2015 | website

Palm 50K | 50 kilometers | March 15, 2015 | website

Georgia

Georgia Death Race | 60 miles | March 14, 2015 | website

Kentucky

Land Between The Lakes 50 mile run | 50 miles | March 14, 2015 | website

Land Between The Lakes 60k | 60 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Maryland

Seneca Creek Greenway Trail 50K | 50 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Mississippi

Carl Touchstone Mississippi Trail 50 K | 50 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Carl Touchstone Mississippi Trail 50 Mile | 50 miles | March 07, 2015 | website

Nevada

Vegas Moonlight Ultra 100 Mile Run | 100 miles | March 07, 2015 | website

New Jersey

Lenape Trail Run | 34 miles | March 07, 2015 | website

North Carolina

Graveyard 100K Ultramarathon | 100 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Graveyard 100 Mile Ultramarathon | 100 miles | March 07, 2015 | website

Reservoir Park 50K | 50 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Ohio

Buzzard Day 50k | 50 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Green Jewel 50K Fun Run | 50 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Pennsylvania

Naked Bavarian 40M | 40 miles | March 08, 2015 | website

Tennessee

Fall Creek Falls 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | March 15, 2015 | website

Music City Trail Ultra 50K | 50 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Texas

50K | 50 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Lone Star Trail Point-to-Point FatAss 35 M | 35 miles | March 14, 2015 | website

Lone Star Trail Point-to-Point FatAss 75M | 75 miles | March 14, 2015 | website

Lone Star Trail Point-to-Point FatAss 96.5 M | 96 miles | March 14, 2015 | website

Nueces 50K Endurance Trail | 50 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Nueces 50 Miler | 50 miles | March 07, 2015 | website

Prickly Pear 50K Trail Run | 50 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Race Across Texas – D-Town (4 Marathons) | 106 miles | March 20, 2015 | website

Race Across Texas – The Wild West (4 Marathons) | 106 miles | March 06, 2015 | website

Utah

Antelope Island 100 Mile | 100 miles | March 20, 2015 | website

Red Mountain 50K | 50 kilometers | March 07, 2015 | website

Vermont

PEAK Snowshoe 100 Mile Race | 100 miles | March 07, 2015 | website

Virginia

Elizabeth’s Furnace Fat Ass 50K | 50 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Thomas Jefferson 100k | 100 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Washington

Centennial Trail Run | 37 miles | March 14, 2015 | website

Dizzy Daze 100K | 100 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

Dizzy Daze 50K | 50 kilometers | March 14, 2015 | website

 
04:20:03 CLOSE
04:23:12 END

 

SHOW LINKS:

ITunes http://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/talk-ultra/id497318073

Libsyn – feed://talkultra.libsyn.com/rss

Website – talkultra.com

Suunto Launches Ambit3 Run GPS watch

Suunto Ambit3Run Trio_1

The Ambit3 Run is a smart Bluetooth® enabled GPS watch for runners for whom style, fit and functionality are of equal importance. It is a running partner, coach and guide, letting you plan, progress and recover more efficiently.

Plan your workouts and discover how well you have recovered

The Suunto Ambit3 Run lets you create and follow detailed interval workouts with the Suunto Movescount App. Set the duration and intensity you want, activate your workout and when used with the Movescount App, the voice coach will guide you through the workout.  A software update later in the spring will allow you to compare your running performance against your last 30 day average and analyze your recovery using a quick recovery or sleep recovery test.

Ambit3 Run has full GPS navigation meaning you can plan your route online, download and then run without fear of making a wrong turn.  Battery Life of 10hrs when GPS accuracy set to 1 sec, 15hrs when set to 5 sec and 100hrs when set to 60 sec.

Follow your friends using the Suunto Movescount App

Using the watch together with the popular Suunto Movescount App brings additional benefits. You can customize your Ambit3 watch and share your Moves while on the go as well as receive call and text notifications on the watch so you don’t need to stop to see who’s calling. Or you can make a Suunto Movie, which turns your route into a playable video file. A new feature of the App, available via a software update this spring, will be an activity feed which lets you follow your friends’ activities – and lets them see what you’ve been up to. The App is currently available for iPhone/iPad users and becomes compatible with Android in April.

Suunto has also teamed up with TrainingPeaks. Moves can now be seamlessly synced to TrainingPeaks after uploading to Movescount. The online service offers advanced training advice for endurance athletes. 

The Suunto Ambit3 Run has a rrp of £200/£250 (with the Smart Sensor) and is available from March 3rd.

For more details, visit www.Suunto.com/ambit3.   @suunto

Suunto_logo [ConveWHITE_rted]Press release by Suunto

 

Interview with MARSHALL ULRICH

Marshall Ulrich Interview

 

There was one day though when Jean lay in her bed at home in a darkened room, battered and exhausted from all that disease was doing to her. The gloomy scene made me claustrophobic. My wife was wasting away in a lightless cabin I wanted to run and I told her so.

 

“How can you leave me right now? How can you be so callous? I need you. I’m so tired. Please stay.”

 

“I have to run.”

 

“Don’t do. Please, god I’m alone.”

 

I looked at her desperate to go. I left. I ran and I still regret it.

 

Marshall Ulrich has run more than 120 ultra marathons averaging over 125 miles each. He has completed 12 expedition-length adventure races, and climbed the ‘Seven Summits’ all on his first attempts. Is he, ‘the ultimate endurance athlete?’

He finished the first-ever circumnavigation on foot of Death Valley National Park, about 425 miles in one of the hottest, driest places on earth. He ranked this expedition as tougher than ascending Mount Everest, but not as challenging as his record setting transcontinental run of more than 3,000 miles from San Francisco to New York City, which was the subject of his book and memoir; Running on Empty.

In his sixties, Marshall inspires adventurers, active and armchair athletes, and a growing general audience by sharing his experiences and defying the ideas of “too far,” “too old,” and “not possible.”

I caught up with this amazing man to get a glimpse into what makes him tick.

You can read the full interview on RUNULTRA HERE

run-ultra-logo

Fat Burning Efficiency by Marc Laithwaite

Image ©getphysical.co.uk

Image ©getphysical.co.uk

Last week we talked about the possible benefits of high fat coffee (Bullet Proof Coffee) prior to an endurance workout. Greater levels of circulating fats in the blood stream, may promote the use of fat as a fuel source and thereby saving precious carbohydrate stores. It created quite a stir… as we expected!

As a recap, when you run long distances, you use a combination of both fat and carbohydrate to provide energy. Your objective is simply to get the most energy as possible from fat and less from carbohydrate, as your carbohydrate stores are relatively limited and can run out quickly.

For example: If when running at an endurance pace (say long ultra) you currently use 600kcal per hour with 30% coming from fat and 70% coming from carbohydrate, that’s 420kcal of carbohydrate per hour. If you reverse this figure so only 30% of your energy comes from carbohydrate, then you will only use 180kcal of carbohydrate per hour. That is a saving of 240kcal of carbohydrate per hour (60g per hour), which is actually the recommended intake during most endurance events!

So if the recommended guidelines are to ingest 60g of carbohydrate per hour during endurance events (that’s approximately 1-2 bars or 2-3 gels) and you switch your fat usage from 30% to 70%, then technically you don’t need to take any fuel right??

Not quite… even if you optimise your diet and training to enhance your fat usage, you’re always going to be using carbohydrate to some extent, so you still need to take it on board. There are a couple of key things you need to take into account:

  1. If you’re rested, tapered and fuelled, then you should be starting on a full tank of carbohydrate, so eat a good source of carbohydrate in the days prior to racing.
  2. We are obsessed with carbohydrate portions, thinking that more is better and a bigger portion equates to more glycogen (stored carbohydrate). Your glycogen stores are relatively small, so you don’t need to eat a lot. If anything, eat a little less in the final days to stop yourself feeling bloated and heavy. This is difficult to do, as we generally believe that ‘carbo loading’ is required so eat excessively in the final few days. The same rule applies for breakfast, a huge meal is of no benefit as your stores are probably already full.
  3. If your fat usage is enhanced, you don’t need to eat as much during the race or training. In Ironman many people ‘panic eat’ on the bike with a fear that we won’t have enough fuel on board. There is a real trend for people to be obsessed with how much they can eat during the cycle section. Athletes often have a set plan of several bars and gels, plus energy drinks at regular intervals. Stomach problems are very common due to high amount of carbohydrate, which gather in the stomach, leading to bloating.
  4. The most common reason given for people failing to hit their target times in endurance events is ‘I got my nutrition wrong in the race’. The truth of the matter is that you got your training wrong.

Last week, we suggested that Bullet Proof Coffee or training in a fasted state works best when training for 1-3 hours, depending upon your sports and ability. But what if you’re going further? What if you’re running for 3-5 hours or cycling 5 hours or more? For many athletes, riding for 5 hours in a fasted state would create a very high level of fatigue, which may take several days to recover from and impact upon your normal weekly training. If you are riding or running longer distances, breakfast and food throughout the session is needed and you should follow these guidelines:

  1. Eat food which will maximise fat usage to save carbohydrate.
  2. Maintain a constant blood sugar level and avoid spikes and dips.
  3. Based on point 2, eat foods which provide a slow ‘drip feed’ of energy rather than those which give you an instant hit.

Here are examples:

Breakfast is 1 mug full of muesli with no sugar. To increase fat content, buy mixed seeds/nuts breakfast cereal topper and add quarter of a mug. To further increase fat content sprinkle on desiccated coconut. Add dried or chopped fruit (anything low GI) and eat with full fat milk or natural yogurt. Don’t add any sugar, honey or syrup. It should be a small to medium bowl, don’t overeat and try to stock up with extra toast and jam for carbohydrates.

During exercise eat nothing for the first hour then take something every 30 minutes. You need to avoid things, which give you an instant hit, so avoid all high sugar products and don’t use energy gels. Energy bars take longer to digest so half a bar every 30 minutes would be suitable. Opt to have half every 30, not a full bar every hour, as this is easier for your stomach and intestines to deal with. You can choose something different to sports bars, such as flapjack, dried fruit or bananas. If you make your own flapjack, butter, fruit, coconut and oats are good, avoid sugar and syrups. The key is small quantities frequently (every 30 minutes from 60 onwards), coupled with water, squash or electrolyte solution, but no energy in drink.

The great gel quandary

Gels were invented for a specific purpose. When you felt low on energy and you were about to ‘bonk’ or ‘hit the wall’, you took a gel and it gave you instant energy. They gave you a rapid sugar spike at times when a rapid sugar spike was required. Then at some point the rules changed, gels were no longer a rapid source of energy for low periods, they are now to be taken every 20 minutes to provide a constant flow of energy. Simultaneously we are advised that we need a constant drip feed of carbohydrate and to avoid sugar spikes. Maintaining a steady blood sugar level is key to efficient metabolism. I’m not sure if I’m the only one confused, but I’m not sure how taking a product designed to spike your sugar levels every 20 minutes can be described as ‘drip feeding carbohydrate’ and maintaining a steady supply. In fact, gels sold based on their ‘fast acting’ properties, would surely be the worst things to take? That of course depends upon how you’re using it, if you’re taking it every 20 minutes to top up energy through a long race, the statement is correct. If you’ve bonked and you need an instant hit, then a gel is perfect, as that’s what they were designed for. It’s interesting how the purpose of a product can change, but I guess if you only took gels when you ‘bonked’ compared to buying 18 of them for a 6 hours ride, the gel economy would take a hit. Just saying.

What next?

As a start point, go out and ride or run and try the strategy. Don’t panic eat or over-eat either before or during. Choose low sugar foods in small quantities at frequent intervals and don’t be afraid of ‘bonking’ during this process. It may take your body a while to become accustomed to utilising fat so give it some time.

Pacing is key

Pacing is the missing jigsaw piece for this strategy. Riding or running at the correct intensity is critical during training sessions if you wish to maintain glycogen stores for the full duration of the workout. We’ll discuss pacing in next week’s blog and how intensity impacts upon fuel usage during endurance training and racing.

- Marc Laithwaite

About Marc:

Sports Science lecturer for 10 years at St Helens HE College.

2004 established The Endurance Coach LTD sports science and coaching business. Worked with British Cycling as physiology support 2008-2008. Previous Triathlon England Regional Academy Head Coach, North West.

In 2006 established Epic Events Management LTD. Now one of the largest event companies in the NW, organising a range of triathlon, swimming and cycling events. EPIC EVENTS also encompasses Montane Trail 26 and Petzl Night Runner events.

In 2010 established Montane Lakeland 50 & 100 LTD. This has now become the UKs leading ultra distance trail running event.

In 2010 established The Endurance Store triathlon, trail running and open water swimming store. Based in Appley Bridge, Wigan, we are the North West’s community store, organising and supporting local athletes and local events.

Check out the endurance store HERE

Endurance Store Logo

The North Face ULTRA TR II and ULTRA CARDIAC shoes new for 2015

TNF Men Ultra Trail II Shoe angle

The North Face are stepping things up for 2015 with three new shoes that will allow all of us to choose a specific shoe designed for the trails and conditions we are running on. Just the other week we had a first look and several test runs in the ULTRA MT (read HERE). The ULTRA MT is a bullet proof shoe built on a firm last, 8mm drop and a super grippy Vibram sole.

The ULTRA MT

Sticking to their guns, TNF now have the ULTRA TR II and the ULTRA CARDIAC. As a brand, TNF have obviously decided that 8mm drop is the perfect sweet spot and comprise when coming to a one drop for all scenario. I have to say, I agree! Purest and low drop enthusiasts out there will say, no, no, it needs to be 6mm, 4mm or even lower. To an extent I agree and understand but when you are only making three shoes, you need to commit. For many, particularly when running long, 8mm provides a great compromise and as we run longer and our run style and technique fades, 8mm drop allows for some leeway. I run in 4mm and 6mm drop shoes on a regular basis and I find the 8mm option a pleasure and a joy. Ultimately, there is no shortage of shoes on the market and a selection of drops. If TNF and an 8mm drop shoe is of interest, read on.

TNF ULTRA TR II

TNF Men Ultra Trail II Shoe angle

 

The 2014 Ultra Trail shoe received much praise for it’s look and feel when running on dry trail. However, it did gain some criticism for the the longevity of the upper! So, the launch of the Ultra Trail II is a great sign that all previous pluses and minuses have been pooled to create a new and fast shoe.

The Vibram sole of the Ultra Trail was arguably one of the highlights of the shoe, it’s great to see this carried over to the Ultra Trail II. Vibram are synonomous with grip and this sole had an abundance of grip on dry trails, rocks and road. I do think that the Ultra Trail will work very well as a shoe that can switch between road and dry trail seamlessly.

TNF Men Ultra Trail II Sole

Influenced by cross-country spike shoes, the upper is a featherlight rip stop upper that provides a snug fit. As one would expect, the shoe is using TNF’s CRADLE technology to offer support in the heel and the midsole.

TNF Men Ultra Trail II Shoe side

The Ultra TR II is a lightweight performance shoe that will weigh 230g (UK8) and without doubt, the shoe is all about speed and feel for those faster training sessions or races on dry trails. It is anticipated that the shoe will be available in two colours for men and one colour for ladies.

TNF Men Ultra Trail II Shoe orange

TNF Ladies Ultra Trail IISpecifications:

 

  • Ripstop-tent-fabric
  • Pebax® heel CRADLE™ for support and proper foot positioning
  • Glove-like heel fit with protective suede overlays
  • Suede forefoot and toe protection
  • 16 mm heel
  • 8 mm forefoot
  • Dual-injection-molded EVA CRADLE™ GUIDE midsole platform
  • Vibram® full-length road-to-trail outsole engineered for optimal traction and balance
  • 8 mm offset
  • Approximate Weight: 460 g (pair) *based on Men’s 8

TNF ULTRA CARDIAC

TNF Men Ultra Cardiac Shoe angle

 

The Ultra Cardiac looks to be an exciting shoe… I have long hailed my love for the Ultra Guide (no longer made by TNF) and on first looks, the Cardiac may well take off where the Ultra Guide finished. I hope so!

As mentioned, the Ultra Cardiac follows on with an 8mm drop providing a great sweet spot for many runners. Unlike the Ultra TR II, the Cardiac will ideally suit runners as a one-stop shoe. It will provide grip through a Vibram sole on a multitude of terrain: road, hard trail, rocks and wet/ muddy trail (providing it’s not too muddy.)

TNF Men Ultra Cardiac Sole

The upper has FlashDry technology and it really is a great multipurpose shoe with enhanced cushioning: 20mm rear and 12mm at the front. When compared to the Ultra TR II (16mm/ 8mm) it’s easy to see how these two shoe differ not only in weight but cushioning and purpose. The Ultra Cardiac is a shoe that you can slip on, run all day on mixed terrain and not get home battered and bruised from the experience.

TNF Men Ultra Cardiac Side

Despite a full length Vibram sole, fast drying upper and great cushioning the Ultra Cardiac still weighs in at a lightweight 275g (UK8) which is extremely appealing.

Ultra Cardiac Sole

 

Available in one colour for men, the ladies colour option is as below and will size from UK4 to UK9.

TNF Ladies Ultra Cardiac

Features:

 

  • Ultra Airmesh and FlashDry™ keep you cool and dry
  • Zonal protection in the heel and toe
  • Pebax® heel CRADLE™ for proper heel positioning and support
  • Luxurious cushioning in the collar lining and tongue for a comfortable fit
  • 20 mm heel /12 mm forefoot
  • EVA underfoot
  • Vibram® full-length outsole engineered for optimal traction and balance
  • 8 mm offset
  • Approximate Weight: 548 g (pair) *based on Men’s 8

A full review of both shoes will be available in the coming months. The ULTRA TR II and ULTRA CARDIAC will be available from March 2015 prices are expected to be £85 and £105 respectively.

 

Read a ‘first impression’ review of the new, TNF ULTRA MT HERE

TNF Ultra MT angle

Check out The North Face HERE

the-north-face-logo

 

 

 

MSIG Sai Kung 50 Skyrunning Asian Championships race report

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 18.23.52Hong Kong is certainly full of surprises and the MSIG Sai Kung Skyrunning race was no exception, with results going against the odds and also against form.

Certainly the most significant surprise for a visitor to Hong Kong is the presence of hills and forests. Actually the towering, high-rise, tightly packed urbanised area, full of flashing neon and determined taxi drivers, that is synonymous with Hong Kong represents a tiny fraction of the area that Hong Kong covers. Forty five minutes drive out of the city is the Sai Kung Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 18.24.30Country Park, the venue for today’s race: a seemingly vast area thickly covered with vegetation made up of extremely steep hills tumbling down to beaches and the sea. It was on these hills that 2000m of vertical ascent was packed into 28km on extremely steep and in some places technical trails.

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 18.24.20The race was scheduled to start at 7am and the sun rose on a grey overcast and thankfully cool morning for the four races taking place over 13km, 24km, 28km and 50km.

The first to set off were the 28km and 50km races.

In the shorter distance, the men’s favourite was considered to be Marco de Gasperi, but with athletes such as Tom Owens, and Martin Gaffuri lining up with him, it was never likely to be a cake-walk. In the 50km the same was true: whilst Yan Long Fei was considered to be the favourite by many, Samir Tamang, David Byrne, Luke Nelson and Blake Hose plus others were never going to give in easily.Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 18.24.00

For the women, Elisa Desco and Stephanie Jiminez were considered the pre-race favourites for the 28km race, whilst in the 50km Kasie Enman, Wyan Chow Pui Yan, Dong Li and Mira Rai were the ones to watch.

The race

The start of the 28km and 50km races happened at the same time and involved a very fast downhill road section, before the first climb started towards the trails that would make up the majority of the races.

Samir Tamang from Nepal in the 50km race

Samir Tamang from Nepal in the 50km race

Perched just above the third check point before the two races split at around 22km, we were getting snatches of news. Especially about the race leaders who we were hearing were having some problems staying on the course. Before we caught sight of the runners we knew that 28km pre-race favourite de Gasperi has taken a wrong turn and lost time on two Japanese runners who had taken the lead.

By the time the runners reached us, we could see that de Gasperi’s mistake had indeed cost him and the Japanese pair of Dai Matsumoto and Kondo Yoshihito were in control with only around 6km left to go.

Dai Matsumoto in the 28km race

Dai Matsumoto in the 28km race

Indeed from that point to the end, the positions remained the same, with Dai winning in 2:49:23, Kendo second in 2:51:41seconds and a disappointed de Gasperi in third in 2:54:32, who rued taking a wrong turn. He said after the race “I made a mistake by missing the course and I realized it until I saw Dai, the Japanese runner coming in front of me running down the hill. I probably wasted 4 minutes until I found the right way. If time can turn back, I would do everything to avoid the mistake.”

In the men’s 50km race Nepalese runner Samir Tamang won 4:58:40. After the race he said ‘Such an honor to become the champion, but I didn’t finish the course within my estimated time. I have been to Hong Kong once before for a 100k race and this is my first 50k in HK. It marked a good start of the year in 2015!’ Tamang was followed in by Yan Long Fei from China in 5:11:50 ‘I chose to follow some of the strong runners as usual and I guess I followed the wrong person this time. I realized there were two people ahead of me at the very last bit of the race and that was too late for me to overpass them both. I enjoyed the race overall especially the view at the hilltop.’ The final spot on the podium was taken by Spanish runner Cristofer Clemente in 5:15:07.

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Elisa Desco on her way to victory in the women’s 28km race

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Stephanie Jiminez in the 28km Skyrun

For the women, the 28km race went with the predictions, with Elisa Desco narrowly beating Stephanie Jiminez in 3:41:02. Desco said afterwards ‘The course is very challenging for me because there were lots of up hills and down hills. Unlike those in Italy, we usually climb up one main mountain. I’m not used to the hilly terrain and it makes the course very technical to me.’ Finishing the trio was Japanese runner Kanako Hasegawa in 3:56:25.

In the women’s 50km race, it was Mira Rai from Nepal who backed up a win in the HK50 with a completely dominant performance, elegantly skipping up the brutal climbs and down the technical descents to win in 5:39:31 over an hour ahead of China’s Dong Li in second and Kasie Enman in third.

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Mira Rai winning the women’s 50km race

For complete results click here.

The responses

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 18.26.13 Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 18.26.21Whilst there were a few runners who went off course which caused frustration, the general feeling was that the race was a great way for many to start the year. The route was technical and exciting with many of the more experienced runners saying that it was a ‘true’ Skyrunning race.

As a part of the new way that the Skyrunning series will be decided, there were valuable points scored for some today and for others it was a chance to bounce back from lacklustre ends to 2014 or injury.

Whatever the racer’s take on the Sai Kung 50, it was a great way to see a different side to Hong Kong and a superb way to ensure that Asia has an even stronger place on the world trail running map.

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Race director Michael Maddess and Marco de Gasperi discuss the race after the action has finished

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Luke Nelson

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Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 18.24.50