Sunday, May 21, 2017

Ecotrail Oslo 80km


When you start Ecotrail Oslo 80km you could be fooled into thinking that you can easily finish in eight hours. The course follows River Akerselva to Lake Maridalsvannet. This is the drinking water source for Oslo. After filling our water bottles at 14km aid station the real trailrunning begins.

The following natural area is beautiful with forests, lakes and waterfalls, but the technical path requires full focus. The rocks, roots, streams, swamps and tree trunks make running fun but slower.

The previous week had been rainy and most of the snow had melted away. The weather has always been great on race day though.

There is only about 2000 meters of total ascent. The biggest hill climbs up to Holmenkollen 35km aid station. The wind and drizzle by the ski jump area made me grab some coke and continue immediately. Soon hundreds of 45km runners started and passed me.

It was nice to have some company. In the first edition of this race in 2015 I got lost a few times. Now the markings were good and there were always runners to follow.

In Sørkedalen we were treated gluten-free bread. This 50km aid station was my favorite. 30km racers had already gone.

A dirt road climbed the last big uphill. Then it was down all the way to Fossum 60km aid station. 20K racers had left it pretty cleaned up. Unfortunately there was nothing to eat anymore. Ecotrail Oslo has over 3000 partcipants, with only 10% choosing the 80km distance. I filled my soft flask and left. I had packed ten Clif Shot gels in my UD vest, so I had enough energy to finish.

Running down Lysaker river valley was a bit muddier business this year. The trail is undulating and slippery. Especially with my Hoka Clayton 2s. Still I'm happy with my shoe choice, because my feet stayed comfy and blister-free all the way.

After the last 70km drink station the last 10K was easy city cruising to the finish. I was determined to improve my 9:44 course PR. It was close but thanks to final sprint I made it in 9:42. 2 minutes!

This was my first race in M55-59 age category and I was 4th. These Norwegian runners are pretty hard core. Local star Didrik Hermansen had won with 6:15.

Ecotrail Oslo has developed into a great spring trail event with enough challenge to keep it interesting. Thanks to organisers and volunteers for the experience.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Ultratrail Running Training Strategy

8 key points from Training Essentials for Ultrarunning by Jason Koop which outline my current ultratrail running training strategy:


1. Smarter


Structured training leads to better results than running more. There's generally too much focus on volume. Superlong runs are very hard on the body. The workouts necessary for best cardio fitness may seem simple and boring, but these methods will make you prepared for success. Extreme gimmicks may seem to work for a while before fading out.


2. Focused 


The limiting factor isn't your physical capacity to run fast. You can develop specific parts of your physiology through increasingly focused specificity during the year. Start with the broadest aspects of training like aerobic endurance. Do the most event-specific things last.


3. Mind


Ultrarunning is a thinking sport. Your mind is your greatest weapon. Use it skilfully and wisely. You have to think your way through the challenges. You need to train your brain as much as your body.


4. Balance


As you get fitter, a bigger training stimulus is required. But you also need to rest. Running yourself into the ground won't improve your race. Recovery is an important part of training. Find the right balance between work and rest.


5. Ascending/descending


You can most dramatically improve your race during the ascents. Lactate threshold work yields the greatest improvements. Preparing for the climbing (and also descending) in your event is a high priority throughout your training.


6. Run-specific


Your training needs to be specific to the demands of the event you are training for. Cross training won't directly improve your ultrarunning. Hiking can be beneficial. Non-running activities may make you a better overall athlete, but you should not do them at the expense of your running. 


7. Perceived exertion


Heart rate is not a good training tool. Your brain is the only training tool yet that can determine the correct intensity and workload by perceived exertion.


8. High-carbohydrate diet


Forget fat adaptation. High-carb diet will deliver energy quicker to working muscles, make you run faster, and help you go farther.