Back story – Why Run Ultra?
This year has been about running… no seriously just ask my wife Julia! it seems like every week I have a new training idea to share with her. Julia rolls her eyes and humors me as I launch into a full account of my latest weekend long run.
2016 is the year of gaining some experience “EXP”. Let me explain…
While on holiday over the New Year’s break I was sitting with one of my best friends enjoying a cold beverage. He casually asked me what my training goals were for the year? This got me thinking and I said I would get back to him. Later I laced up my shoes and hit the trails determined to clear my head and set some goals.
We were camping in Totaranui, and being a favourite spot in the country I was spoilt for trail choice. I decided to head up the Headlands track and over to Anapai bay. Running in complete peace up the trail, totally on my own, I could take in the surroundings while considering my goals for the year.
Running has always been a passion and a huge part of my lifestyle. I wasn’t happy that as I thought back on 2015 it had been a messy training year with a real lack of direction. I would put this down to having a busy job with travel commitments, having a young family, renovating our first home and also just being a typical kiwi with too many hobbies… excuses excuses.
As I ran the trail I got specific and thought..
What do I want to achieve?
With running that almost always means running a certain distance in a set amount of time. Now I don’t know about you but I have always found this extremely frustrating. All too often people tend to focus on PBs and splits. I’m sure we can all relate here.. How many times have you finished a race, be it a 5k 10k or Half Marathon and the first question anyone asks at the office the next day is what was your time? Sure, it’s a quick measure of how your race went but with no follow up question on course profile or weather conditions the time means very little. This thought led me to realisation number one.
Only run races on trail this year.
Having grown fed up with “chasing splits” I’d had enough and just wanted to enjoy a solid years running on some beautiful new trails. I was hoping to regain a sense of adventure along the way. This would mean traditional race times would go out the window with a new dimension on building strength and technique being a long term goal. What’s more it would be a great opportunity to train with friends amongst beautiful new spots around the country.
Next I thought what distance? This was tough to answer so there and then I started thinking.. why not a bit of everything?
Putting both halves of the idea together I decided my 2016 Training goal would be to run in at least 5 trail races of differing distance. I needed to determine ultimately what distance I enjoy the most.
With a spring in my step I made my way down towards Anapai bay. I arrived and sat on the shore watching the waves roll in for a while. Pleased with myself having successfully set a specific goal, I thought the only thing left needed was a title. Because the whole run 5 races of differing blah blah blah is a bit of a mouthful, I summed up what I would be ultimately achieving once I had completed this goal. I floated a couple of phrases and decided my goal in short was to gain some experience or EXP.
Experience goes a long way when racing. There isn’t a race I have done or even a long run for that matter that I haven’t finished and picked up on something that could have been easier in hindsight. So I figured that’s what this year is all about. Throw myself into the trail running scene. Run hard and soak up much as I can from those around me, learning from my mistakes along the way…
The holiday memories end there.
Once we arrived home and got settled, it was time to sit down and plan out the year. The reality is with so many good events you have to juggle your schedule and try to spread them around. Its worth doing your homework as some races have early bird entry fees that I like to take advantage of. With a 2 year old and a half built house we aren’t exactly high rollers. I consulted the NZ running calendar aka “The Oracle” and had a look at what was around. The NZ Running calendar is a must have bookmark for all runners in my opinion.
Because I’m new to the trail scene I had very little knowledge of most of the races I saw. My driving factors were the proximity to my home location, cost, could the family come along and join me? and would I need to take time off to do the race?
Ultimately I have settled on the following itinerary
- Great Forest Events Half Marathon – A nice rolling cross country style half marathon in pine plantations on a mixture of sand, 4wd track and gravel road.
- Double Rainbow Trail Run 25km – An epic trail run on technical single trail and rugged farmland with around 800m of climbing.
- WUU2K – A 60km Ultra with stunning views that follow the Wellington Skyline with around 3000m of climbing.
- Taupo Ultra Marathon 50km – A new event that promises stunning single trails following the lake with around 1800m of climbing.
- The Goat Mountain run – A mountain Half Marathon with around 1100m of climbing.
These events were well spread out throughout the year. They didn’t cost an arm and a leg to enter. As a result I was happy with my choices and noted the entry dates down in my work diary.
Excited about the year’s running plans I was quick to call up my friend Chris. Chris is a very strong runner who had not only found success in a number of trail events over the course of 2015 but secured sponsorship along the way. Chris was excited for me and had nothing but positive thoughts on the matter. We chatted about racing together and tried to make it work but Chris had already locked in his key races for the year and ours all unfortunately seemed to clash. Nonetheless Chris offered his support and decided he would come up to visit for the Taupo Ultra as support crew for me. Roll on Taupo…
Fast forward – Ultra, I choose you
As the year has passed by up to this point I am really enjoying my running, more so than ever before. Before the year has finished I can already say I feel like I have found my niche within the Ultra running distance. As the week progresses I cant wait to tackle my long runs and get away from the city.
I know that next year I will be targeting Ultras with all of my efforts. The thought of carrying all of your nutrition, mandatory gear and being on your feet for endless hours is absolutely my cup of tea. I’m over the moon with the sense of adventure I have gained this year from running on trail and this is something I plan do to for a long time to come.
In my next blog I intend to cover my latest race and my first Ultra the WUU2K. As mentioned above this is fantastic new 60km event that covers around 3000m of climbing throughout Wellington’s vast network of hills and trails. It was a great day out but as I mentioned earlier every time we race we learn new things and I learnt a lot from this one so stay tuned for:
5 key points I learnt while running my first Ultra
You can follow me on:
I upload nearly all of my runs from GPS to strava. Please feel free to send me a message on facebook. I’m always keen to talk running! so you will likely save my wife’s poor ears some hurt by allowing me to talk trail with you instead.
Embrace the winter months and get out there and see Mother Nature in its wildest form. Finally if you take anything from this entry it would be take time to set goals, you never know what direction they may end up taking you in.
This one gave birth to an Ultra runner.