This post comes from Monica Scholz, who traveled around North America to set a record of running the most 100-mile races in one year. Yesterday, I published a story about how and why she ran 25 100-milers in 2010 to achieve a lifetime total of 112 100-mile runs completed. Today, I’m following up with her tips for travel and ultra/trail running. She managed to travel, on average, every other weekend and complete these endurance events while holding down a demanding full-time job as a family law attorney. Here’s her advice, which is targeted at ultrarunners but in my mind is relevant to anyone who tries to get away from it all on weekends in pursuit of a sport or hobby:
Stay relaxed both while traveling and while running.
Air travel is horrible these days. If you get excited when something goes wrong, you won’t be able to calmly problem-solve. For example, when I got up to drive to Buffalo the morning of a Friday flight to DC, then to connect to Jacksonville for the Saturday morning start of the Iron Horse 100, there was a message on the answering machine saying that my flight had been canceled because of a snowstorm. I checked the Internet for every airline flying from any U.S. city within driving distance of my house to see if there was a flight that could get me to DC in time to make my connection to Jacksonville. No luck. Time was quickly passing, so I decided to drive to the Toronto airport. I walked up to the Air Canada ticket counter and was able to get on a plane 25 minutes later that got me to DC in time to make my Jacksonville connection with 40 minutes to spare!
The need to stay relaxed also applies when you are out on the trails during the race. Any problem that you might encounter IS SOLVABLE. I’ve run 112 100-milers, and I think I’ve had just about every problem you can have. You won’t be able to see the solution if you panic. Stay calm and relaxed, and you’ll figure it out.
2. Fly Home on Sunday After the Race
If you are doing multiple ultras like I was doing or otherwise just need to get back to work, fly home Sunday after the race instead of thinking that you’ll “rest” Sunday night and fly out Monday. I did the latter a few times during 2010 and then didn’t bother anymore. You are overtired and sore and won’t rest very well in a hotel room, so just get on a plane and be overtired and sore and get home to your own bed.
3. Wash/Re-Pack/Replenish Immediately
As soon as I’d get home after each race, I’d immediately wash all my running clothes, re-pack them and replenish all my electrolytes, snacks, etc. ready for the next race the following weekend. Once this was done, I could get on with my work and the rest of my non-racing life during the week without concern about the upcoming race. Friday morning I’d wake up and head to whatever the next destination was without worrying about packing.
4. Connect With Others and Be Social, Thankful, Helpful
Don’t get all self-absorbed in your race. Virtually no one, if anyone, is paying their mortgage by running 100s. This is our leisure activity. We do this for fun and fitness. The best part about ultras when compared to marathons or other road races is the mindset of the runners. Ultrarunners are gregarious and social. DO NOT FORGET THIS when you are running an ultra. This means do not pass a runner without asking how they are doing; do not go in or out of an aid station without thanking the volunteers profusely; and if you have crew, do not part from them EVER without thanking them and giving them a hug and a kiss (when appropriate). If you come across a runner who is struggling, do whatever you can to help. If you are struggling, don’t get all self-absorbed—ask another runner for help.
I met so many people during the course of my ultras whom I came upon when I was bonking. All I had to say was, “I’m bonking, mind if I tag along with you for a bit and talk and try to get myself focused?” My request was never refused. All those other wonderful ultrarunners out there have helped me immensely, and I hope that I have helped a few myself along the way.
5. “Smell the Roses” and Live For the Moment
The best thing about 100-mile races is they tend to occur on one of the race director’s favorite places to run. I know this, having been a race director of two different 100s. Bearing that in mind, when you get to race, start to leave behind all of the travel-drama that you’ve just been through, leave behind all the work-drama that will be waiting for you on Monday morning and anything else that may be bothering you. You are in a new place, which is a fellow ultrarunner’s special place. “Drink in” that special place. Look at the scenery. Look at the birds. Look at the wildlife. If it’s on an urban trail, enjoy all the people walking with their dogs. Smell the roses. Live for and in the moment.