Experience the exhilaration of a self-supported ultra
To experience an ultra on a new level, try going solo—no pacers, no aid stations ...
Photo by Scott Markewitz
While ultramarathon races are a fun way to cover trail miles with like-minded peers, to experience an ultra on a new level, try going solo—no pacers, no aid stations, no crew members and no companions. It's not even a race. Just you and the trail. Henry David Thoreau wrote, "I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than be crowded on a velvet cushion." Running on a trail for 50 kilometers or 100 miles alone gives you new appreciation for the dirt, rocks and roots that are your medium, but, more, a glimpse into your true grit. Here are 10 steps to prime yourself for an ultra solo.
Set the Date. There's nothing worse than getting stoked for a specific race, only to find it falls on the same weekend as another important engagement. No worries—set your own date. Highlight it on your calendar and start training.
Talk It Up. Tell friends, fellow runners and family your plans. Be humble, but hype up your run. Talking up your endeavor gets you pumped, and "going public" provides an extra shot of zeal when you've been running 10 hours and haven't seen a single terrestrial.
Decide the distance. How much are you willing to bite off? First factor your previous ultra experience. Off the couch to 100 miles is not going to fly, no matter how tough a warrior you are. A rule of thumb is to go no longer than your previous longest race distance. Consider also if you're willing to run through the night alone, which can be risky if you are not prepared.