What You Don’t Know About Running An Ultra-Marathon

Running events can take many different forms. You’ve heard of a 5k run or walk, a 10k, a half-marathon (13.1 miles), and a marathon (26.2 miles). If you haven’t run one, then you’ve probably at least heard about an ultra-marathon, which is any event that covers a distance of more than 26.2 miles. These marathons sometimes require runners to cover dozens, even hundreds of miles. Here are the things you don’t know about running an ultra-marathon.

  1. You get to EAT. When you compete in an ultra-marathon, get ready for a buffet table like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. They’re lavish and expansive, and the best ones even include beer and coffee (not that those substances will help you finish). Your body will need as many calories as it can get in between long bouts of exercise, so eat up!
  2. You WALK. If you’re going fifty or a hundred miles, then guess what? You won’t be running them as often as you think. Your body needs to conserve as much energy as possible to manage that kind of distance, so you need to be careful when deciding when and where to run. If you’re headed uphill, you’ll be walking at a leisurely pace. Other times when you need a rest, you’ll be jogging as slowly as possible. And eating. Did we mention the eating?
  3. It’s MENTAL. If you’ve ever gone without your eight hours for an extended period of time, then you know what we’re talking about. Everyone needs sleep to thrive, but an ultra-marathon isn’t about thriving. It’s about surviving. Wait until you reach the finish line, and you’ll be shocked to find how much you could achieve on so little fuel. It’s an effort worthy of a giant, and you are one.
  4. It’s SOCIAL. These events draw quite a few people, and not all of them will be killing themselves at the front. The adrenaline rushing through you–or the lack thereof, at points–will turn you into a chatterbox if you let it. Talk to the people around you, find out about their journeys, and use the overall sense of euphoria to fuel your own.
  5. It’s EASY. Well, it’s easier than you think. Most ultra-marathons occur on soft terrain over pavement. That can make a huge difference on your feet and joints after a huge number of miles, making this experience easier than the traditional marathon. Then again, when you’re ready for a 100-mile test of endurance…well, you get the picture. Good luck!

The Worst Advice You Could Possibly Give A Runner

Here at Hunter Valley Marathon, our goal is to provide all of our readers with safe and sound advice so they can make the most of their marathon experience. Unlike us, there are other websites that think they are helping but in fact, the advice that they are given is detrimental. We are going to bust some myths. 

Myth 1: You Shouldn’t Drink Water

When you run, regardless if you are running a marathon or on a treadmill, you will sweat. The more you sweat, the more your blood volume decreases. The more your blood volume decreases, the harder your heart has to work to deliver oxygen to your working muscles. Therefore it is imperative to stay hydrated and drink over the course of the marathon. There are other beverage options such as Gatorade and Powerade but good old-fashioned water is just as good a choice. Also, some blogs claim that you can become overhydrated if you drink water the entire race. While we recommend that you only drink water when you feel thirsty, we still recommend that you drink water. 

Myth 2: Carbo Loading Doesn’t Actually Work

Although the Keto diet is on trend right now, runners not only need to carbo-load but they need to carbo-load correctly. We have to talk a little about science. When you eat carbs, glycogen gets stored in your liver as well as your muscles. Glycogen is what our body uses to give us energy. However, at some point during the marathon, our body runs out of glycogen and has to resort to burning fat for energy. This is commonly referred to as “hitting the wall” by marathon runners. Therefore, carbo-loading works, it’s just choosing the correct combination of carbs to avoid hitting the wall. Carbs that do not have a lot of fiber are the best option because too much fiber can cause tummy troubles midrace. Also, to fully maximize the amount of glycogen in your muscles, you should begin carbo-loading 2-3 days before the race. 

Who Is Shalane Flanagan?

Shalane Flanagan Winning NYC Marathon

She might just become a verb.

Her name might just be describing the ending of a drought or some other stretch of time when an American didn’t’ have success.

After all, Shalane Flanagan, last year, became the first American woman to win an American marathon race – specifically, the New York Marathon – in about 40 years.

She shalaned the drought.

A very American marathon race, once of the largest and most revered distances races in the world, before 2017 had not been won by an American woman since the Carter administration. Achieving that feat by itself is impressive enough – but to realize that it was achieved by a woman who was 36 years old at the time?

Now that takes ageism to a whole other level of absurdity.

Shalane Flanagan has been regarded as one of the best American distance runners for a number of years, even dating back to her days as a standout distance at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She was on the verge of retirement when she won the New York Marathon, and was on the precipice when she finished seventh in her most-beloved race, the Boston Marathon (she grew up in the Boston area and considers the Boston race the one she most wanted to win).

However, she has found new life and is looking forward to defending her New York Marathon title in November. Her guide in this journey is her newly created team of female runners, whom she calls the “Bowerman Babes,” named after the track club where they train. These women are especially recruited by Flanagan and her coach to be training partners – and they are among the best rising stars in distance running in America –and all of them are at least 10 years younger than Flanagan.

And that Boston Marathon? While Flanagan finished seventh, one of her Bowerman Track Club teammates, Des Linden, wound up winning the race – so American marathon dominance remains in the “family,” so to speak. 

A woman, who was so close to hanging up her running shoes for good, is now training as if the best is still yet to come. Could a 37-year-old woman win the New York Marathon? Could an American woman win it for the second straight year – the first time that has happened since Miki Gorman in 1976-77 (the last American woman to win, by the way)?

Now that last year happened, who can say for sure that it’s impossible? Flanagan ran the third-fastest winning time since the course record was broken in 2003. Flanagan’s performance just means that some of us are Flanagan just shalaned any ageist beliefs. No reason to doubt her now.

The Hardest Marathons In The World

You’d think running 26.2 miles is difficult but there’s a major difference between running 26.2 miles on flat land straight and then running 26.2 miles on mountains through curves. Now take something called the Ultra Marathon – 135 miles through breathtaking (figuratively and literally) scenery.

Badwater Ultramarathon

In July, The Badwater 135 is a challenging 135-mile race that starts in the middle of Death Valley and finishes in Mount Whitney. The race entails 3 different mountain ranges, 14,600 feet uphill and 6,100 feet downhill. But not just anyone can participate in this race. You must prequalify by being the Badwater Salton Sea Race – 81 miles from below sea level uphill to the top of Palomar Mountain.

The Jungle Ultra

This marathon is 142.6 miles through the Peruvian rainforest where the average temperature is 90 degrees and humidity is at 100%. The race also includes 70 river crossings and 9,000 feet downhill. Since the race is in the middle of the rainforest, it’s mandatory to carry supplies on your back throughout the entire race. The good thing is that this race is in 5 stages.

Marathon des Sables

This event started in 1986 and has grown in popularity year over year. This 156-mile race that lasts 6 days (also requiring you to carry everything you need on your back) is done in the 100-degree heat through the Sahara desert. The only materials provided to you are water and a designated tent area.

Grand to Grand Ultra

This race is the longest at 170 miles but the good news is that you have 1 week to complete it. Similar to the others, all the supplies for the marathon are up to you and must be carried throughout the journey. Its moniker comes from the fact that is starts at the Grand Canyon in Arizona and finished at the summit of the Grand Staircase in Utah. Luckily you do not need to go up the staircase.

What do you think? Are you ready to handle these types of marathons?

Is Pre Workout Helpful For Cardio?

Pre workout supplements are a common staple for bodybuilders, weight lifters, and often just young teenagers looking to get a pump. It is extremely popular, and is said to produce some great results. But how does pre workout really work, and is it helpful for other fields? Well, pre workout typically contains caffeine, BCAAs, protein, beta-alanine and carbohydrates. Thus, when you take pre workout you will likely feel stronger, get more visible muscle pumps, and have an increased stamina. All this sounds great for those looking to maximize their results in the gym, but what about for those looking to their exercise from cardio, such as running?

First, let’s define the exact meaning of cardio, and how it differs from weight training. Cardio broadly refers to any physical activity that causes your cardiovascular system, the heart and blood vessels, to go to work. Thus, cardio increases your heart rate for an extended period of time, increases body temperature, and increases the volume of air taken in by your lungs. Cardio is also known as aerobic activity, and includes running, cycling, swimming, dancing, sports, and more. There are two types of cardio: HIIT cardio and Steady State cardio.

Pre workout can help to enhance both types of cardio. For HIIT cardio, or high-intensity cardio sessions, studies show that pre workout improved runners’ maximum oxygen consumption, maximum running speed, and lean body mass. Further, another study found that taking pre workout before a run increased stamina, in particular, perceived feelings of fatigue. This make sense, as HIIT cardio requires a lot of energy, and pre workout provides just that. However, it is important not to over indulge, as this could cause heart issues and end up being detrimental to your cardio workout.

For those interested in taking pre workout before Steady State cardio, you are in luck as well! Although Steady State cardio isn’t as intense, pre workout can still help out in other areas. The other ingredients aside from caffeine help to increase duration, productivity, and focus during your work out. Further, pre workout has been show to work hand in hand with an LISS workout. More specifically, LISS cardio is typically used to burn fat — a byproduct of taking pre workout. The caffeine in pre workout boosts lipolysis, in turn increasing your metabolic rate and burning more fat.

Thus, although pre workout supplements are often thought of only being useful for strength and weight lifting, they can also be used for cardio too. After all, they are designed enhance your sports performance, boosting fatigue and your overall conditioning.

History of the Marathon and Why It’s 26.2 Miles

In 1896, the first modern Olympic was held in Athens and this is where the first organized marathon took place. Even the Olympics occurred in ancient history between the years 776 B.C. to A.D. 393, long races such as the marathon was not documented to be included in the games. So where did the marathon come from and why was it part of the first Olympics?

The marathon race is actually based on a Greek myth. The legend states that a messenger named Phedidippides ran from the ancient Greek town of Marathon all the way to Athens to deliver the news of the Greek victory over the Persian Army in 490 B.C. The distance is approximately 40 kilometers. The legend also states the messenger delivered his message and collapsed and subsequently died. The first marathon race in 1896 was in honor of this messenger. Out of the 25 participants, only 9 of them crossed the finish line.

For those who are not great at conversion, 40 kilometers is roughly 25 miles. So how did the marathon become 26.2 miles? It all started in the 1908 London Games. Queen Alexandra requested that the start of the race begin on the Windsor Castle lawn and finish at the Royal Box at the Olympic Stadium. And this distance happened to be 26.2 miles. This ended up sticking and in 1921 the 26.2 miles became the standard length of a marathon race.

Originally the marathon race was only open to athletes. In the late 1970s, several city marathons opened the doors to female athlete participation. K.V. Switzer, a female runner, won the NYC marathon in 1974.  When the 1984 Olympic games were held in Los Angeles, since female marathon runners were popular in the United States, the Olympic Committed allowed female athletes were allowed to participate in the Olympic games.

The History of the Boston Marathon

One of the more prominent athletic events in the United States (along with its unfortunate modern history) is the Boston Marathon, attracting participants from around the globe to compete in the race. One of the reasons is its prestige which has earned it a reputation as a standout among marathons due to the fact that it actually invokes standards in order to enter the competition at all, along with a prize purse for the victors.

But how did the Boston Marathon become such a prestigious event? When was it that it set itself apart from other races of its kind and draw the sort of crowd and competition that it does year after year?

It begins shortly after the first modern marathon held at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece in 1896, in commemoration of the Greek soldier Pheidippides who ran the length to Athens by which the marathon was originally measured (fun fact: history states he only ran 24.8 miles as opposed to the 26.2 under the modern-day marathon regulations). John Graham was the manager for the U.S. marathon team during those 1896 games, and he found a deep passion for the sport – so deep that he was moved to establish a similar event in Massachusetts. With the assistance of local businessman Herbert Holton, Graham established several routes by which such a marathon could be run. The final decision was a 24.5-mile course that ran from Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland to Irvington Oval in the city of Boston. Fielding only 15 runners on April 19th in its inaugural year of 1897, the B.A.A. (Boston Athletic Association) Marathon saw its first champion in New Yorker John J. McDermott, with a time of 2:55:10.

The Boston Marathon would be run consistently every on April 19th (except when that day fell on a Sunday, in which case the marathon was held the day after) from 1897 all the way to 1968, when the official observance of Patriot’s Day was changed from a dedicated April 19th to the third Monday of April, whichever day that happened to fall upon. During this period, the Boston Marathon had undergone some small changes, most notably its route. While the route maintained most of its similarities, the marathon itself was extended by about 1.7 miles in 1924 (for an exact total of 26 miles, 385 yards), to accommodate new Olympic standards set by then-King Edward VII and Queen Alexandria in 1908 due to the convenience of the route from Windsor Castle to the Olympic Stadium. Thus, the modern length of the marathon was born, and with it came a new starting point to the Boston Maraton. Since 1924, instead of Ashland, the marathon has now begun in Hopkinton.

Since 1970, the Boston Marathon has made several other changes to its event. Qualifying standards were set to determine if a participant would even be allowed to race at all, and this standard has become measured by performance in other races. The competition regarding even receiving a chance to participate has become so great that some sources indicate that hopeful racers need not only to meet the standard for their appropriate age and gender, but also to better it by at least 2 minutes. By this condition alone, nearly 3,000 time qualifiers were still unable to enter the event due solely to the competition and the premium of participant slots in the marathon.

The Boston Marathon has also expanded to include female participants as of 1971, with the race’s first female victor coming just the year after as Nina Kuscsik finished the race in 3:10:26. Three years later, in 1975, the Boston Marathon also included a wheelchair division, and in 1986 the race began awarding prize money (as if the incentive of running in the marathon in the modern day was not enough in itself). To this day, the most accomplished Boston Marathon runner remains John A. Kelley, who started 61 different Boston Marathons, completed 58 of them, and won two (1935 and 1945). Kelley also raced up until he was 84 years old, participating in the Boston Marathon as recently as 1992.

Tips For the Day Before a Marathon

Tips for Getting Ready For Marathon

a woman running a marathonIt’s the day before the marathon. You have spent the last few months training for tomorrow. What you do on this today, may determine the outcome of the race. It is important to make sure you are prepared, you are relaxed, and well-rested. Stick to your routine, go for a short run, and go home and read a book or watch a movie. This is your last day to prepare your body, so make sure you treat it right.

The day before the race is one of the most important days in your preparation. Here are a few tips on what to do on the day before your marathon:

  • Hydrate
    • Hydration is one of the most important things you can do. This can make or break your race. Make sure to drink plenty of water the days leading up to the race.
    • Some signs you are hydrated are:
      • Urine: The color of your urine should be mainly clear.
      • Sweat: If you are hydrated, you should sweat consistently.
      • The skin test: If you pinch or apply pressure to the surface of your skin, the color of your skin should return to normal in less than two seconds.
  • Eat the right food
    • The days leading up to the race, it is important that you eat properly. While you want to eat carbohydrates, you do not want to eat anything unusual. I would recommend a pasta with a plain sauce, like butter or olive oil. Don’t go for the hamburger, it will come back to haunt you.
  • Get plenty of rest
    • The day before you are going to run a marathon it is important to relax and rest up. Try to stay off your feet so you are not putting extra stress on your muscles and bones.
  • Go for a short run
    • If you usually go for a run in the morning when you wake up, do it. If you have been seriously training for a marathon, your body is used to your routine. A short run will not make you tired. In fact, it may even help you the day of a race. Running will help calm your nerves, improve blood flow, and loosen up your muscles and soft tissues.
  • Get prepared
    • Make sure that you are prepared for the race the night before. The last thing you want to do is create stress for yourself the morning of the race. Some things you might want to take care of are:
      • Have a light and healthy breakfast prepared
      • Check the weather and plan your outfit accordingly
      • Plan your trip to the race
  • Don’t stress
    • Stressing will only take any energy you have out of you. It is important to get a good night of sleep the nights leading up to the race.

Most importantly, remember that you have been training for this day for months. As long as you give it your best shot, you can’t go home unhappy. Go out there, run and have fun!

The Curious Case of Larry Macon

One of the biggest problems I have with modern athletics and sporting events is that people are always out there to be the best. First of all, let’s not confuse this with trying your hardest. The difference is that you can try your hardest – at anything, not even just sports – without being the best. Trying your hardest to achieve the best that you personally can is different than just being better than everyone else. For a long time, I’ve always looked at sports as something that shouldn’t be treated as a profession, let alone one that pays the kind of money it does (but that’s another story). We all start out at the same place, throwing a football in the backyard or taking the field on an abandoned sandlot. And it’s a game. It’s just for fun. It’s just to have a good time. But, modern, professional sports have taken it several levels beyond that. With professional athletes making hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of dollars a year just for playing a game and some of those athletes making even more off of endorsement deals that don’t even have a direct influence on the sport, it seems as an outsider looking in that a lot of people get caught up in the hype and fame of a select few, setting new and seemingly impossible standards for themselves as athletes, simply dooming themselves to fail if they don’t achieve that high standard.

Sometimes, however, it only takes one good, heartfelt story to remind me that there are still those out there who do something simply for the sake of having a passion to do it. Not necessarily to be the best, not even necessarily to be really good. But, they do it just because they like to do it.

Cue Mr. Larry Macon, former lawyer and self-transformed runner for life. The man started running just to cover a lie he had told to some of his lawyer buddies. And not just any old running – he was running a marathon. This was a 50-something year old man who had never come even close to running 26.2 miles in one stretch any day in his life, taking up marathon running on a whim just so he wouldn’t be shown up by his coworkers (that peer pressure’s coming back).

Roughly 20 years later, at age 72, Macon has recently completed his 2,000th race. When I’m 72, I still hope to be standing on my own two feet, let alone crossing any sort of finish line. But the best part about this feel-good inspirational story is that Mr. Macon doesn’t do it for the money or the fame (I’ll admit I’ve never heard of the man before reading the article), but just because loves to run. He also says it gives him new perspective on life. With running being as inclusive as it is, he meets people from all walks of life and gets to see the world in all sorts of new ways that he wouldn’t have thought to see as an “old, white lawyer” as he dubs himself. He says he doesn’t mind entering a race, taking in the scenery as he runs and stops worrying about personal statistics. The man has no problem taking over 7 hours to finish a marathon (he completed his 2,000th race in 7 hours, 16 minutes and 31 seconds). The secret to his success?

“If you drag your body out on the racetrack, you’re pretty good.”

So the next time you get caught up in personal ability or even how you compare to others around you, remember 72-year old Larry Macon when you feel you can’t be fit or do something athletic. You may just end up surprising yourself in a similar way.

How Long Do You Have To Train In Order To Run A Marathon?

Training for a marathon is certainly hard work, but it is well worth the effort. If you have your sights on a specific race, you are going to need to start training well enough ahead of time. So just how much training is required? It is more than just about how soon you begin training, but let’s start there.

First, experts recommend that you give yourself at minimum 12 weeks to prepare for a marathon. Naturally, the training time can depend on the individual, and you need to be dedicated to the process. While 12 weeks is the minimum, closer to 20 weeks might be best. Remember, it’s also not just about how long you train but ‘how you train.’ No matter what, that 26.2 miles is a monumental task, and you want to rise to the occasion and complete this personal challenge.

While 12 to 20 weeks was given as the training time, that is just for the actual marathon. People often have themselves running about 30 miles weekly before they even step up to the plate and start training so to speak. Additionally, as you are ramping up to running a marathon, another thing you can do is start with smaller races. You might groan at the thought, wanting to tackle the giant instead, but running those distances is going to be part of your training anyway.

Soon, you will be running that marathon. First, you have to train. If you are currently out of long distance running, give yourself an entire year. Ramp up for half the year towards running 30 miles a week. Then, you will be ready to start a marathon training program. Don’t bite off more than you can chew all at once. You will get there, and while you do want to push and train hard, do so responsibly.