5 Tips for the North Face 100
So you’re preparing for your toughest trail race yet? Don’t worry, whatever you’re doing – running your first half-marathon, first marathon, first 50km or 100-miler there is a load of advice for you to read and get confused by. Some of it’s great, and frankly, some of it is ridiculously ill-considered.
So, when you’re done feeling grateful for the complete lack of quality control on the internet, maybe you’ll have time to squeeze in one more Top 5.
The Top 5 Things You Can Do To Get Ready For The North Face 100
It’s the biggest ultra-trail race in Australia. In mid-May, 2,000 super-motivated runners, athletes and dreamers every one of them, will stream into the canyons and along the ridgelines of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area just a couple of hours west of Sydney. Whether they run the 50km or the 100km, they will all finish the day (or the next day) equal parts exhausted and elated.
If you’re undertaking this challenge for the first time, all of these tips will hopefully help you. If you’re a seasoned veteran, you might just nod your head wisely to yourself.
1. Get it dialed.
That’s right – everything. Your nutrition, your hydration, your pack, the way it’s packed, your footcare in dry conditions, your foot preparation for wet conditions, how you’re going to cross streams, how you’re going to cope with nausea, what you’re wearing to run for 8 or 28 hours – question all your assumptions now, challenge them to be the best choices you can make for what you want to achieve and make sure they work.
Do it while there is still time to upgrade or change and practise with alternatives. RACE TO YOUR TRAINING.
2. Don’t just prepare. Over-prepare.
With all your main choices in place, what are your backup strategies? Are you ready for the fact that night-time won’t just be cold, you’ll also be more susceptible from burning through your own natural insulation and energy stores. Or that you might be so blown apart that your legs won’t be moving fast enough to keep you warm the way you’re used to on shorter runs? Or that everything in your bag might be sweat-soaked and not very useful?
Maybe the food that worked for 50km in training won’t go down very easily after 80km, or it might be super-cold or wet on race-day, MAKE PLAN B A PART OF YOUR PLAN A.
3. Train to adapt.
Yes we know you shouldn’t do anything different on race day (there are exceptions to this and almost every other rule that people give you, by the way) and yes we all hope that things will go as planned. But just as hill running, stair climbing, technical descending and eating a banana on the run are all conditioned skills, the ability to adapt is itself a valuable skill worth developing in your training.
If you put yourself into situations where you must confront, challenge, and adapt to the unexpected in your training, then you will be much less overwhelmed by any unexpected turns life takes on race day. Train deeply enough to experience things going wrong, then find the thrill in making them right.
4. Find your ‘inner beast’ mode.
The best way to be ready for Beast Mode on race day is to build a better beast in your training. The hard fact is that no matter how colour-coordinated your race kit is, or newly released your running pack might be, or how digestible the protein in your special sports drink claims to be, NOTHING beats training your ass off. This point got a mention in our last set of helpful tips, and it’s worth mentioning again here.
Especially if you are aiming to run further or faster than you ever have before, and through whatever combination of hill repeats, stair climbs, fast descents, long runs, tempo runs, intervals, yoga, acupuncture, deep tissue, pilates, beetroot juice, and crossfit you might hope to achieve your goal, nothing will help you own it on race day like being an ultrarunning weapon. And that only comes from hard personal investment in your aspirations. Simply the beast.
5. Practice Acceptance.
In all your training, in all your thinking about what gear to use and what tradeoffs you might make in choosing a cheaper item over a more advanced one, or a lighter piece of mandatory gear over a more substantial one, you are tuning your own race readiness.
The mental acceptance, the choice to endure a certain type or amount of discomfort or physical inconvenience, is in itself preparation for the exciting challenge of race day. Know this, embrace it, and don’t just be prepared, become ready for this exciting adventure, whether it’s your first or your fifth.
Resistance is futile.
Thanks for reading and hope there’s some value for you here. These tips come from my own experience in ultrarunning and will certainly differ to the way that other runners would prioritise your race preparation. But I think that telling everybody to take 0.8-1.1g CHO/kg .bw/hr etc is so specific as to limit people’s curiosity regarding – for example – different nutritional strategies, like properly conditioning themselves to benefit from the approach now characterised as lower-carb-high-fat and utilised, apparently, so very well by runners like Timothy Olson.