Unsolicited advice is not only annoying, it can ruin a race. In ultrarunning and ultra-trail running, experience means everything. What works for someone else, likely won’t work for you. The following 12 “tips” are some of the worst advice you’ll hear for running an ultra-trail race.
1. “You should totally sign up for this.”
We all know drinking and Ultrasignup don’t mix. Just because the cool kids are running Sinister 7, doesn’t mean you should too. Make your own goals, and run the adventures and races that make your heart dance.
2. Start fast
“I’ll just hang onto Hayden Hawkes and see what happens.” Running someone else’s race is never a good idea. Going out hard is just as bad. For most people running longer than 50K, easing into the race pays off. Successful ultrarunners know that the race doesn’t start until the second half.
3. Expect the best
Expect the worst, it’s an ultra. Toe the line with the notion you’re likely to puke, poop, and almost pass out at some point. Adapting to the variables and working through challenges is part of the fun. Keep your expectations to a minimum.
4. You’re almost there
Whether it’s “500 metres to the finish” or “it’s all downhill from here” or “the mountains are totally runnable.” Believe no one. You’re almost there when you see the finish line.
5. Beware of the chaïr
Even if you are racing for the win, the chair can be necessary. Chairs can help with changing shoes and socks, easing your stomach, and taking selfies.
6. Don’t eat all the food
If this isn’t an eating contest, then you’re doing it wrong. Especially after a hard race, ensure you are getting ample calories in, even if it is beer. Every calorie counts, and we hope you can count high.
7. Pack light
“A poncho is sufficient for storms in the mountains,” Alicia Woodside was told while preparing for Cascade Crest 100-miler. This was not true, and Woodside resorted to a DNF due to weather conditions.
This is not the place for ponchos, running with minimal gear, or wearing CarbonX Hokas. Aerodynamics won’t help you and your relationship with Mother Nature. The minimalist movement is just a trend anyway–so be prepared, take the extra layer, and pack more snacks than you need.
8. Run by pace
“If I keep a 4-minute pace per kilometre, I can beat the course record,” said no successful ultra-trail runner ever. Good trail runners know that pace doesn’t matter when the terrain gets tough.
9. Ignore volunteers
The people filling your bottles up at the aid station? They are working for below minimum wage, so make sure you thank them. When you’re finished thanking them, don’t forget to thank them again.
10. Advice mid-race
As long as you’re running your own race, and focusing on your own goals–feel free to ignore unsolicted advice from fellow racers. While passing another runner on her way to winning and setting a 100-mile course record, professional ultrarunner Kaytlyn Gerbin heard, “Oh, is this your first 100? Better slow down and save your legs.”
11. You don’t look like a runner
If you run, you are a runner. Please ignore all the advice about looking a certain way in order to do what you love. You are whatever kind athlete you want to be. Set big goals and keep going.
12. There’s no time to stop
If you see someone that needs help during a race, you better stop and help them. No one cares about your records or personal bests if you are a jerk. Look for opportunities to be kind and help others. And don’t forget to share snacks.