North Face 100 tips

6 Top Tips for runners preparing for The North Face 100

With so many different approaches, no list can be complete, but this should be food for thought as you head out on your training weekends.

It's a bunched stampede early on - are you going to blow up early getting ahead of it, or drop a half hour on single track stuck behind it?

1. Final gear checks now. Is your torch bright enough to see tricky terrain clearly in the night? If you’re not finishing under 16 hours, does your shell keep you warm in 0 degrees with wind chill? Are your socks comfortable running 20km in the wet and cold? These 2 gear lists are particularly helpful – Bryon Powell’s gear list discussion for UTMB in 2011: and Dan Bleakman’s Ultra168 gear list for North Face 2012

2. Fatigue is a resource. Training fresh and sunny on a section of course you’ll probably hit exhausted after sunset isn’t as helpful as it could be. Know the course as it will be on race day. Do yourself a favour – run in reverse from the end of a section you’re training on to get some fatigue happening and then run it in the direction you’ll hit it on race day.

3. Train smart to race smart. Can you drink 1 litre of water and then run 30km carrying just 1 more? You have to carry a rain jacket and spare torch, they don’t have to be the ones you use. Plan to swap lighter mandatory items for heavy better functioning items near to the time you use them, but plan smart – don’t get stranded 50km from gear you need.

4. Checkpoint planning. Do you have support crew to help you in and out faster? Is there a CP you plan to take your time? Do you need to stop at all? Or if self-supporting, how are you going to make your own drop bags easy to find when you’re tired. A big snaplok bag with your name on it? An ice cream container wrapped in fluorescent tape? A Pringles can filled with gels and electrolytes attached to a tin foil flag? Leaving instructions for yourself from 55km onward – ‘take this’, ‘eat these’, ‘leave lighter one’, can also be helpful. And pack gels away from scissors. . .

5. Fuelling. Be prepared to need more carbs as fuel than usual, and have some protein to support your body. As more muscle breaks down during the race, fewer fibres have to do more work to keep you going. An increased workload means a need for more energy. Sports drink powders are easy to carry in reserve, or just carry a bit extra of what normally works for you. Research suggests that 5-8g/hr of protein – from sources like nut bars and some gels, Accel or 2nd Surge for example –can be of benefit to an active body under exertion. And everybody wants savoury flavours – Le Snak, salt & vinegar chips, olives – by the 60km mark.

6. Enjoy it! Yes, running 100km better challenge you, but if your mindset is that you’re going to run for 10 or 15 or 20 hours with your head down and not talk to anybody, you’ll miss some amazing people as they run past. And you’ll probably miss out on some insight that will make your next ultra even better.
Best of luck, from the runners and crew at Hoka OneOne Australia.

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