15 Ultrarunners Share How They Pack Their Running Bags

Packing for an ultrarun isn’t as easy as it might seem.

As with any other packing job, it’s difficult to choose what to bring. You also don’t want to risk ending up with a bag that is heavier than necessary – or risk missing that wonderful jacket in the mountains!

To improve how we bring our gear around, we have talked with 15 experienced ultrarunners and asked them to share their best advice.

Read on and learn from their best tips and tricks (all 15 have years of experience, so they know what they are talking about!).

The ultrarunners

I am the current record holder for most 100 mile wins on trail, with 40 wins. I hold the supported record on that Appalachian Trail . I have been ultrarunning since 1996 and have run around 140 ultras to this date, winning 61 of them. My world is focused around running ultras, and I expect to continue running them until I’m dead.

Favorite race? Hardrock 100 in Silverton, CO, I also enjoy many other races that involve singletrack trails.

How do you pack your gear for races?

I curently run for Hoka One One and use their branded bags for my gear, as well as some Red Bull branded bags when travelling. I also run for Red Bull. I use this bag because it’s big enough for my stuff. 🙂 When I am crewed it is the perfect size for my crew to carry around, it also has backpack straps for easy carrying. I carry very little compared to most people. I only bring what is needed for a particular race. Organizing is done by my crew.

What top 3 things do you always bring besides the common stuff everybody bring?

I always bring my own gels, liquids I like to drink and any clothing needed, Usually it’s not much. For me, nothing has really changed over the years. I have a good method and have been sticking to it ever since.

I’ve seen people bring multiple pairs of shoes, which is odd as we can only wear one pair at a time. Some people bring way too much stuff in bins, buckets, etc. In my drop bags, I just use a simple plastic bag labeled with duct tape. Lots of stuff is not necessary, but that varies with speed for people. I believe poles are unnecessary in most cases.

What are your top tips for other ultrarunners?

First and foremost, listen to your body. It gives off signals of potential injuries, etc. It often happens where people try and train thru injuries, only to find themselves with chronic injuries because of it. Stay within the comfort zone, especially in longer races such as a 100 miler. No one ever finished winded.

Favorite races are ones that have a low key feel and a fun course. I don’t care so much about a fast course, I would rather run something that’s entertaining and fun.

Training wise, remember no one needs to run 100 mile weeks to complete a 100 mile race. Stay within yourself and training does not get interrupted. Be consistent with training days too.

To recover always consume something directly after a run when you’re cells are open to accept nutrients. A product like “Ultragen” from First Endurance will help recovery very quickly.

For the past 25 years I have been competing in the world’s toughest endurance races, covering in that time over 70,000km in training and events. I especially love deserts and have run over 2000km in the Sahara from the Morrocoan Sahara twice, to the Tunisian, Arabian, Libyan, Niger, Jordan, Western Desert in Egypt to the Gobi in China, Death Valley in the USA a couple of times to different parts of the Australian Outback to the Indian and Nepalese Himalayas as well as many races throughout Europe and ran for Charity the Length and breadth of New Zealand.

I am the author of two international best selling running books “Running Hot” and “Running to Extremes” both memoirs from my adventures.

I run an online run coaching academy that is unparalleled in it’s holistic approach to training runners, from beginners to advanced and focuses on the five pillars that go into building a strong athlete who will be healthy, achieve their race goals but also have longevity in the sport while avoiding injuries and burnout. Our company is called “Running HotCoaching and our website is www.runninghotcoaching.com

I am also a Mindset Expert and Motivational speaker and have an online Mindset Academy called “The Path of an Athlete” dedicated to helping people develop mental toughness, resilience, leadership qualities and never quit mentality. My main website that includes that is www.lisatamati.co.nz

Favorite race? Badwater Ultramarathon 217km

How do you pack your gear for races?

For multi-day stage races, it depends on what and where I am going. My favourite brand is The North Face and I use their backpacks. This fits me perfectly and does up nicely over the chest with a velcro section so no matter your size it sits snugly. It’s also great for women as it protects the breast and stop unwanted movement there. I also love that it has a pockets around the wide waist belt so you can always reach your snacks and electrolyte tablets which is crucial. If it’s in your backpack you won’t eat regularly enough.

I organise the separate groups of items into separate zip lock bags and then back them in.

I have a North Face sleeping bag, which is super light and warm. I don’t carry a sleeping mat as for me weight is absolute crucial. I have a bad back so I can’t afford any luxuries and the bare minimum in food and equipment.

I break all my food rations down into daily packs.

I even cut my toothbrush in half that is how pedantic I get about weight. Every extra gram out there can be a real drag literally. So go over and over with your packing and use your full gear at least a half a dozen times when training to iron out any problems.

What top 3 things do you always bring besides the common stuff everybody bring?

Strangest thing – in the Marathon des Sables a 240km race in Morrocco I saw some strange sights. A guy running in a full rhino suit to bring attention to the plight of Rhinos. Try doing that in 40 plus degrees. Another dressed as a Waiter in a suit with a tray he carried the whole way with a coke bottle on it and two children with cerebral palsy being carried on these contraptions by 8 runners at a time. They carried them the entire way, alternating teams in order to give these kids the experience of a lifetime. It was amazing.

I have sometimes bought paper underwear that you can toss away. It’s too heavy to carry say seven pairs of normal underwear and I wouldn’t go without sterilizing hand gels as the loos can get pretty disgusting on a multi day and the bugs get passed around throughout camp so easily when you aren’t able to wash.

Things like snake kits which are often compulsory are a waste of time and just lip service to the problem. Flares I think are a good idea in case you get in serious trouble but they are heavy. For some desert races these were compulsory and I have seen them used to good effect.

Always take your own food even when the race directors say they are providing it. I had a race in Niger a 333km non stop run where the food was meant to be provided but it didn’t arrive on the plane so we only had local fare which deep in the Sahara meant canned veges and rotten goat. The food poisoning made that race hell.

What are your top tips for other ultrarunners?

Top tips for everyone – don’t just think you have to train high mileage. The actual collecting of kilometres is only half the battle and most people do too many kilometres but neglect what is absolutely crucial which is strength training at least twice a week and DAILY mobility workouts to undo the negative effects of training like shortening muscles, knotty muscles, inflammation etc.

Add on top of that THE most important part of the whole equation is your MINDSET. Even in times when I had a terrible build up to an event like during La Ultra a 222km race at extreme altitude in the Himalayas when I was facing torn ligaments on my ankle and unable to run and had a hypoxic brain concussion to boot. I spent more time steeling my mind for the battle and focusing on all the techniques I teach to make you stronger mentally. It turned out to be one the best races I ever had despite it being my first time at altitude.

Experienced runners who have hit a plateau, do endless miles but don’t see any change or are constantly facing injuries and dealing with accumulated fatigue or adrenal exhaustion. We see this so often with new clients who are old hands at running but who have smashed their bodies into the ground going further and longer without heed to the changing needs of their body as they get older for example, or who are dealing with the affects of accumulated fatigue and adrenal burnout. These guys need a complete reset and a few health test which we do can really help them rebuild their health and break through again into new growth and better quality running. You can’t have good running performances if your health sucks no matter how long you run and running really long (believe me I know) can actually lead to hormonal imbalances, thyroid issues, kidney problems and even weight gain and muscle loss.

New runners – Get good advice form people who really know and don’t go out like a bull at a gate. Build up your running by using the run/walk system and develop a good cardio base before heading into the the higher intensity style workouts. Most new runners have trouble with two or three things – their breathing, the length of their step, and the lack of strength in crucial areas of their body’s like hips, gluts, knees, lower back. So they must do a good strength programme (not bulking up and it doesn’t have to be in a gym it can just be body weight exercises) to help the body withstand the rigours of training, if they don’t that is when injuries happen.

Their form needs to be assessed ideally, we do gait analysis for example and this can stop people making back habits and help them run more efficiently and correctly and avoid damage.

Regarding breathing. Learn diaphragmatic breathing techniques and practice nose breathing for a few minutes a day to develop a stronger connection to your diaphragm and when you start running run at a pace you can still hold a conversation at. If you are getting out of breath, walk a little. There is no shame in that and even my ultra athletes we have a built in portion of walking training for the very long races as this uses different muscles that also need training. So they are in good company.

I’d say that I’m more of an endurance athlete than an ultrarunner nowadays – I enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities that allow me to push my physical and mental limits!

I train and compete with dreams in my heart. I love to race and I love to train! But it hasn’t always been that way.

I went for my first run some time back in April 2011. It was tough but I was captivated so I went for another the next day…and then every day for quite some time. It made me feel alive again and gave me the time and space to think some things through. Running changed my life and saved me from myself! It has changed my outlook on life, it’s changed the way I eat and what I eat and it has changed the way I approach adversity.

Running also helped me to realise that you really can push your mind and body to limits you never knew existed – I’ve taken this idea and applied it to my life in general; you never know what might happen until you try so you might as well give it a go!

All experiences, good and bad, make you more whole and teach you lessons – if you pay attention then you shouldn’t make the same mistake twice.

If you’re sitting there wondering which direction life is going to take you I suggest you get up and go for a run, a walk, a bike ride or a swim and make some decisions. You will never know what might have been unless you go for it!

Favorite race? Lakeland 50 (England) and Mont Blanc Marathon (France)

How do you pack your gear for races?

If a race has mandatory kit then the mandatory kit is all I will carry. I like to try and go as light as I can as I think it helps you to move quicker and reduces the options and choices that might slow you down should you need to stop and utilise something in your pack! I am an organised and neat person so that is also how I like to try and set-up the pack – the things I feel I’ll need easy access to are generally kept nearest zippers if they are inside the pack, and food is generally kept in pockets and mesh on the outside of the pack.

I use a Salomon Advanced Skin S-Lab 12 Set for races above 40 miles as there is a lot of capacity and it fits very well to the body and lower back – with fine tuning it is easy to forget you’re wearing it and I really like having soft flasks readily available on my chest. The pack can accommodate a water bladder too but I don’t tend to use this as I feel the added weight is a burden and the delivery system can be frustratingly slow. The likelihood is that I will downsize to an S-Lab 5 Set for races between 40 and 50 miles in the near future and keep the 12 Set for longer hikes and mountainous races that require more volume.

For shorter races I have experimented with two waist packs – I find the very simple Inov8 Race Elite 3 a good option for training runs up to marathon distance, if combined with a handheld bottle. The pack sits nicely on the hips and doesn’t bounce or move around once tightened in place with bungees. The lack of water storage is definitely a limiting factor for me in races though so I have tried the UltrAspire Speedgoat waistpack for races up to 50k and in hotter climates. The gear storage of the Speedgoat is absolutely minimal (a few gels and a small waterproof jacket) but the water capacity is great as it can hold two specially designed semi-soft bottles of 500ml each. It requires adjustment every few miles to keep it from moving around to sit on the hips but all in all it’s very comfortable and doesn’t bounce on rugged terrain or steep downhills.

What top 3 things do you always bring besides the common stuff everybody bring?

Everybody is different and outside of mandatory kit I don’t tend to bring anything other than my iPod Shuffle, some homemade vegan ‘real’ food and ZipLoc bags! To date I have never switched my iPod on during a race but I find it comforting to know it’s there in case I suddenly get an urge to listen to music or a podcast. The food I carry because sometimes Aid Station food is not enough, and other times, not vegan at all! This can be a pain and can add weight but it’s important to fuel well throughout a race, which brings me to my final ‘always bring’ item – ZipLoc bags. These things are great for getting in and out of Aid Stations quickly; you breeze in and say ‘Hi’ and ‘Thank You’ to the volunteers and then fill your ZipLoc with whatever takes your fancy before hiking on out eating as you go.

I have seen people bring along full First Aid kits to pretty well connected and not-at-all remote trail races – this is just unnecessary! Bring the basics and if you need full blown assistance it will likely get to you pretty quickly. The strangest thing I’ve seen, well maybe not strange but certainly something I don’t really understand, is people running with cuddly toys or using backpacks that are just not fit for purpose! It can’t be comfortable to run with a small furry lemur backpack, surely?!

What are your top tips for other ultrarunners?

Race Tips:

  • When, inevitably, it gets rough and tough in a long race I tend to go for my intrinsic motivators and I think back to the tough times in my life before I found running and endurance sport. I can always pull up memories of rougher and tougher times that I managed to get through with grit, determination, resilience and sometimes a bit of luck. I’ll think about why I’m running, I’ll think about why I’m on the trail. I’ll absorb my surroundings and start to enjoy the scenery. Basically, I’ll remember that I’m choosing this roughness. I’m choosing this toughness and I like it!
  • Stay focused and hold a steady pace. Try to work to a plan such as times you’d like to hit each Aid Station. That’s my extrinsic motivator from start to finish as I always start a race with A, B, C and J plans. A, B and C are more often than not finish time goals but may sometimes have placing goals in there alongside. The J plan is Just Finish for when things go awry!
  • Focus on some self-care – have I eaten lately, have I had enough to drink, do I need to adjust my clothing or my pack? Once that’s done I lift my head and look down the trail or road to see if I can spot anybody in front to hunt down. If there is, great, I’ll slowly try to reel them in. If there’s not then I will focus on trying to get into a metronome pace.

Favourite Purchase Under $100: Injinji Original Weight No-Show socks.

Thing I Wouldn’t Recommend: NEVER try ANYTHING new on race day. EVER.

Training/Recovery Tips:

  • Patience is key: if you want to try a new kind of training/diet/technique regime do your research and gradually adopt it – see how it works for you, give it some time. I like to think 3 months is a good test period for most things! You’ll know after 3 months whether or not it’s for you.
  • The basic principle for ultra training has always been for me – run six days out of seven. Depending on the race I’m training for that might mean running trail six days from seven, it might mean mixing up speed on the road with longer runs on the trail, it could mean adding in treadmill hikes with 15-20% incline.
  • Learn your weaknesses and train them away!
  • Rest and recovery is key to consistency and key to longevity in ultra endurance. Eat well straight after hard workouts – get 25-30g of protein into your system as quickly and efficiently as possible. Utilise weight training and body weight training to strengthen areas of weakness and consider taking up yoga and mediation practice to strengthen the mind and attune yourself to the rhythms of your body.
  • Don’t be afraid to miss a day. If your body is telling you to rest, then rest!

I’m a lover of adventure and travel! I love exploring new places on foot and what I love about ultra running is that it allows me to reach such beautiful and unique places around the world that most people never get to experience all made possible through pushing my body beyond its perceived boundaries. You could say that I am addicted to the Adrenalin that these challenges provide which brings me back for more and more.

Favorite race? TransGranCanaria

How do you pack your gear for races?

Depending on the distance of the race, for single stage races I use a WAA Ultra Equipment 3L bag and for multi-stage races a WAA Ultra Equipment 20L bag. I like these bags because they are comfortable and fit my body well, they have compartments at the front of the bag to hold my water bottles (500ml for the 3L and 750ml for the 20L) and have separate pouches where I can store my snacks/fuel for the run as well as another for my phone.

The bag also has adjustable bungee straps to secure poles if I am doing mountain running. I like to organise things in the different compartments in the bag so I know where everything is so even if I am fatigued or I am in the dark it is easy to locate what I need straight away which is very important.

I have also used Ultimate Direction bags, which I would also highly recommend for comfort and functionality.

I like to pack light as I like to race so don’t want to be weighed down with unnecessary kit but I always take any mandatory kit and always plan for emergencies with items such as first aid kit & survival blanket regardless of the weather and extra kit/clothing and food according to the possible weather conditions. My bag is packed light in comparison to some but in line with the racing pack of runners.

What top 3 things do you always bring besides the common stuff everybody bring?

I always bring a First Aid kit with survival blanket, wet wipes and a waterproof jacket. I have learnt through my own mistakes of not having these things with me on runs that this is dangerous and these three things can save a life, either my own or someone else’s, or at least provide a lot more comfort in certain situations. This has changed over time as I have learnt from experience.

Each person is individual, I see people taking spare socks in case their socks get wet which I don’t think is necessary at all but people take comfort in different things so you need to figure out what works for you.

The strangest thing I see people bring is stuffed toys and flags on poles for sentimental reasons which I don’t get as it weighs you down!

What are your top tips for other ultrarunners?

For new runners I would recommend:

  • Try out lots of different kit and food options for ultra running as you will react totally different to someone else.
  • Take a variety of food, you will get bored of the same items over a long time and then not eat.
  • Find a couple of role models and listen to their advice and take the rest with a pinch of salt or you will get confused and doubt your decisions – particularly stay away from those forum pages where everyone has an opinion.
  • Look at salt tablets. Long distance running is totally different and your body loses a lot of salt that needs replacing.
  • Be brave! Your body is stronger than you can imagine, just believe and try and you can do it!

Favourite Purchase under $100: Guidetti Hiking poles – a life saver for mountains

Bad recommendations I have heard: I have heard people recommend to take Ibuprofen when running but I would strongly urge you not to, if you need some sort of painkiller as a back up just take paracetamol which won’t cause you kidney damage.

Favourite Races:

  • TransGranCanaria – It is a tough and challenging race, whichever distance you choose, but the island is so beautiful it makes it all worth while.
  • Kalahari Augrabies Extreme Marathon – my first desert multi stage race, an absolutely stunning race through a desert in South Africa where you run with giraffes, baboons and a wide variety of wildlife and sleep under the stars every night.

Training and Recovery Tips:

  • Train Hard, Race Easy – the race is never easy but its definitely more enjoyable if you have put in the right training.
  • Take rest days – your body needs time to recover and adapt, I always have a minimum of 1 rest day per week and not active rest but actual rest (no exercise) and if I feel I need more then I take more days.
  • Don’t just run, focus also on strength and mobility to keep you injury free and mobile.
  • Mix it up and keep it interesting so you stay engaged and motivated with your training.
  • Post long race/run – Enjoy a chocolate milk or recovery drink in the first hour you are back to get the body repairing, have a hot shower and wrap up in your favourite compression tights (I love Supacore) and get your feet up and relax.

Michele Yates – Ultra Runner of the Year 2013. 4x National Champion at the ultra trail distances as well as podium in distances from 10k up to 100 miles. Record holder at Run Rabbit Run 100 mile, Nueces 50 mile and Indiana Trail 100. I am also owner/founder of Rugged Running, where I coach all levels of runners at any distance.

Favorite race? Run Rabbit Run 100

How do you pack your gear for races?

I have a few categories:

  • Drop Bags- These are drawstring bags containing the contents I will need during a race. I try to keep it simple but for sure plan according to each aid station, possible elements, and always have a little extra of everything. Clothes and food. I usually have these in a sealed tote so they aren’t rolling around the car.
  • Duffle bag- This contents contains separated plastic baggies with labels.
    • Race bag-race shoes, start clothes (shorts, sports bra, tank etc), visor/hat.
    • Regular clothes- clothes before after the race.
    • Other- pj’s, undies, socks, etc.
  • Backpack- bathroom and medical supplies. Medical supplies consisting of biofreeze, leukotape, smalls scissors, rock tape, essential oils, the stick, foam roller.

What top 3 things do you always bring besides the common stuff everybody bring?

I always try to keep it simple, however also be prepared with:

  • Essential Oils- they help you sleep, cure muscle or ligament tightness, and so on..
  • Lacrosse ball- roll out the knots gently the night before.
  • Recovery Boots- the kind that pump blood to your legs.

Try to always bring your own pillow. Good rest is wanted!

I’ve btw. seen teddy bears tucked into vests etc.. I’m sure they have a good reason.

What are your top tips for other ultrarunners?

Always go prepared for any elements even if the weather is saying one thing for example: 80 degrees still bring light gloves.. make a list and check it twice 🙂 …

For both types of runners, never underestimate the ultra distances. They are to be respected. Eat (I recommend Health Warrior bars, they are tasty, convenient being smaller and nutritious), and eat often. Drink and drink often (I try to use Eldorado Spring water and bring gallons with me just in case the water tastes funny out of the sink there or soemthing), and of course ELECTROLYTES!!.. those take a bit more figuring but I like to use GU Energy Gels and Salt Stick Salt Tabs.

Ultimate Direction Jenny Vesta (think it’s a little more than $100 now but I’m sure you can get it on sale)

Bad Recommendation- buy bigger shoes.. those typically don’t support you the right way. Instead, get some compression socks (NOT SLEEVES).. so the fluid is compressed from the toes up.. and your shoes should always fit!

I am married with two children and live in the Fens just outside Cambridge, UK. I have been ultra running for a little over five years now and have completed races ranging from 50 kilometres to over a hundred miles. Before getting into running I competed in triathlon, played rugby and was a keen mountaineer and climber.

I am a qualified level two triathlon coach and outdoor instructor but once I found ultra running, I knew I had found my spiritual home. I love my racing long and hilly and enjoy nothing more than using running to help me explore new places.

I am a keen photographer and writer and have been lucky enough to have my work published in a number of print and digital publications, including Ultra magazine. I am a member of the running editorial team at MyOutdoors.co.uk and also write about my own experiences training and racing on my own website www.ultrarun.in

Favorite race? Lakeland 100

How do you pack your gear for races?

I have a bit of a fetish when it comes to packs and have tried them all over the years, including many from Salomon, Camelbak, Inov-8 and Ultimate Direction.

My favourites by far though are the current iteration of the Ultimate Direction packs, with my personal favourites the PB Adventure Vest 3 and AK Vest 3. They may not be as stretchy as the Salomon ones but the pocket configurations really work for me and allow me to get easy access to all the kit I require without having to remove the vest. These are due to be replaced with newer versions in the coming weeks and I can’t wait to see how they have improved.

I typically have my nutrition up front on the harness. I don’t tend to carry loads of food, other than a few Nakd bars, and generally rely on the refreshments available at the checkpoints. Top tip is to carry a zip lock bag with you and carry your choices from the checkpoint. Far better to be eating and walking, than standing in the checkpoint eating. Forward momentum is always key.

I prefer soft flasks to harder bottles or water bladders, as it allows me to monitor what I drink. The wide necked Hydrapak flasks are by far the best. They bombproof and really easy to fill, at checkpoints or from streams.

Other items I like to have easily hand are my iPhone, for photos and also my personal pack, which has essential or emergency items. Any other kit requirements, such as spare clothes, get bagged into a waterproof bag and placed in the back of the pack.

In terms of how much I carry. I probably carry more than I should but no way near as much as others. I have refined my kit list over the years and always start with the mandatory kit required by the race directors and then just add in any extras that I feel I need to have, based upon expected weather conditions and past experience.

What top 3 things do you always bring besides the common stuff everybody bring?

My must have for every run is my iPhone, in a waterproof and shockproof case when I race. I like to listen to a lot of podcasts when training and use this as my media device, paired with Bluetooth earbuds. I also like to take landscape photos while running and my iPhone is my go to camera for this. It has full UK coverage of OS maps loaded onto the phone as well, just in case. Finally I can use it to receive encouraging text messages from family and friends if I’m feeling low, which generally comes at some point in most ultras.

Alongside this would a small USB battery pack when I race, to provide back-up power should my iPhone die. I tend to run my phone in Airplane mode when I am racing, so it normally has enough to last for races of less than 24 hours but for longer events, its good to have some spare juice, just in case. The cold can also do weird things to batteries, so having a battery pack to be able to shock an iPhone back into life has helped during more than one winter ultra race.

The final thing I always carry when I race is what I call my personal pack. This is a small Ortleib waterproof bag, into which I have put a range of emergency or essential items that I like to carry. This has evolved over time but includes things such as Petal eLite as a backup light source, space blanket, small tub of Vaseline, some toilet roll, compede, zinc tape, some anti histamine wipes and tablets for an upset stomach. Its very compact and will easily slip into a side pocket on all my packs and its good to know I have these items there should the worst happen.

The strangest thing I have seen people carrying, tends to be stuff they wear, especially fancy dress. Its not for me but it does raise a smile, so I would always encourage it if people feel the need 🙂

What are your top tips for other ultrarunners?

Keep smiling and keep moving, would be the best advice I could offer. You’ve trained hard and the race is the culmination of all of that effort. I’ve been guilty of putting myself under too much pressure in the past but at the end of the day, this is a hobby for most of us and hobbies are, generally, supposed to be fun.

If I could give another piece of advice, it would be to not ignore a problem. If you have a hotspot, some rubbing or grumble in the stomach, try and do something about it straight away, as early intervention will be much better than ignoring it and allowing it to get worse.

For new ultra runners, I always say that ultra running is 50% physical and 50% mental. In my opinion, anybody can train to run an ultra. Its having the mental strength to both enter and see it through that really cuts the group down to a select few. Some refer to us as mad, while I like to think of us as a group of people who like running in amazing places and testing our own physical and mental limits. Every race will have its low points and you may even swear that you will never do it again. But once you cross that finishing line however, that is all forgotten and the emotional high is amazing. Mind you the emotional crash that follows in the days after the race, in some cases, can be harder to overcome than the race itself!

I have enjoyed every race that I have undertaken and you can read my detailed race reports over on my website. There are a couple though that hold a very special place in my heart and I have returned to run on more than one occasion.

Peddars Way Ultra was one of my first races and the race that actually introduced me to ultra running, when I saw it taking place as I drove to my parents. Running the length of Norfolk, it may not have the hills of my usual races but it travels through the area of the country that I grew up in and as such, has some really special memories.

The other race I really enjoy is Lakeland 100. I have had a love affair with the Lake District for over 30 years and have spent many days there walking, rock climbing and now running. The route itself takes in all that the Lakes has to offer and the atmosphere is something special to behold. I was lucky enough to finish this at my first attempt and unfortunate to have to pull out through injury during last years event. While I may still be suffering with that injury, one thing is for sure, that I will be back in Coniston to toe the start line of this race again in the future.

Finally, in terms of training and recovery, I will simple say that while training is important, its the recovery that actually makes you fitter and stronger. I see many athletes pushing themselves into the ground, striving to run further or faster in their training. And while that has its place, its important that we pay equal attention to recovery in our training.

We should factor recovery into our racing calendar annually, monthly, weekly and daily. Annually by setting aside a few weeks each year where you rest, stop structured training and just train for fun if you feel like it. Each month we should include an easier week to allow our bodies to recover, likewise each week we benefit from at least one day off training. Finally, sleep is so important and as such we should ensure we are getting sufficient sleep each and every day.

Recently joined the masters category and continue to find myself (a little less than before) toeing the line of races. I LOVE coaching! I wrote a training book for Ultras called “Running Your First Ultra.” Public speaking is my newest challenge and race directing the Chuckanut 50k is in my blood. In this 18-year career, I have run 100+ races collecting 55+ female wins and 2 outright wins along the way.

Sponsored by: Patagonia, Vasque Footwear, Ultimate Direction, Julbo Eyewear, Pro-Tec Athletics, 1st Endurance, Flora, Bronwen Jewelry & Lily Trotters.

Favorite race? Chuckanut 50k (I’m the race director…;))

How do you pack your gear for races?

I pride myself on using everything in my bag. So that means a bit of planning. I love lists and often have a list going weeks in advance that I can add to as things pop into my brain.

The Patagonia Black Hole Duffles (a range of sizes) and the Black Hole Cubes (also a range of sizes) help keep gear organized. Called Black Hole for a reason, it’s easy to fit “one more thing” … so I try to stick to the list… most of the time.

What top 3 things do you always bring besides the common stuff everybody bring?

Snacks. I like to have food available at all times (crucial to the long distance runner’s metabolism) – I’ll bring a homemade massive salad on a flight. That always seems to draw (jealous) looks.

Chopsticks & travel mug. I have collapsible chopsticks I bought in Japan. I figure with as much travel and therefore eating out (especially quick meals) the fewer plastic forks I can use/throw away, the better. Same goes for the travel mug.

What are your top tips for other ultrarunners?

Plan for calories, extra calories.

Take everything in Stride.

Read race reviews before you commit. There are a LOT of new ultras popping up. If this is the first time you are running a longer distance I recommend finding a well established race so that the RD isn’t working out the bugs on your first experience.

I am a recreational runner who loves the mountains and competes along the trails of North Yorkshire and Lake District fells. Not the most naturally gifted I have hustled pretty hard balancing full time work and a six day running week.

I also write and blog in an attempt to inspire others to find out just how far they can go.

Favorite race? The Hardmoors Series

How do you pack your gear for races?

For the longer distances I prefer the Montane Razor 15 hydration vest. I use two 1/2 litre soft flasks in the front pouches, energy gels in the other loose pocket and phone within the zipped compartment. Natural foods are better in the longer distances so the large bottom pouches have ample room for bananas, rice cakes and malt loaf etc.

I tend to leave all food within reach and use the second large compartment to store gloves, hat and buff, etc. Basically anything I may need to combat temperature change. I then use the large space in the back for mandatory kit like waterproofs, compass and extra clothing. Basically anything that I may not use sits out of easy reach.

I prefer to race as light as possible, so for any race below marathon I’d use something smaller, like the Salomon ADV skin 5.

What top 3 things do you always bring besides the common stuff everybody bring?

I always use Precision Hydration 1000 tablets, I put 1/2 a tablet in every soft flask. This helps maintain my electrolytes. I’d also recommend taking salt tablets for the rear end of an Ultra, when cramps take hold they can slow you down. Finally, vaseline can be overlooked but should always be taken, I think of how I’ll feel at the end of a race when considering gear, and chaffing/blisters are a real problem.

What are your top tips for other ultrarunners?

My main tip is to consider your state at the end of an Ultra. You don’t know how soon this feeling may take hold. To run 15 plus miles in discomfort will at best slow you down and at worst cause DNF. Always practise what you race with like gear and nutrition and be sure to pack light. Every extra ounce will weigh you down over a long distance.

Recovery is so important and what you do immediately after a race can make the biggest difference. I would never recommend compression socks during a race, as they can pull muscles to unnatural positions, but certainly for afterwards to get blood flow. Plenty of stretching, a massage, water and be certain to eat (preferably) a protein shake of some sort within 20 minutes of finishing.

I am an elite ultra runner living in Bend, OR. I’ve been racing trail and ultra’s for the past 6 years.

Favorite race? Western States & UTMB

How do you pack your gear for races?

I use NATHAN hydration gear, and my favorite is the VaporHowe (my signature vest).

I carry more than most runners as I like to be prepared in the mountains. I’ve been stuck in the snow, rain, fog, etc. in the past and I like to have enough gear to keep me safe and warm.

What top 3 things do you always bring besides the common stuff everybody bring?

  • EXTRA food. I always have a stash beyond the fuel I’m bringing for the run.
  • Shower cap & space blanket. Just in case I get lost or stranded. Both items are small and will keep me dry and warm if I have to spend the night somewhere.
  • Dog treats & glyco bones. I bring my running with me a lot. I realized when I run long my dog would sometimes bonk. I bring myself fuel, so why did I think my dog didn’t need fuel? The glyco bones are basically like gels for a dog, just without the electrolytes (dogs don’t sweat and shouldn’t get additional sodium). Now he can run much longer!

What are your top tips for other ultrarunners?

For new runners- find a mentor who has been in the sport a long time and listen to their advice! Be humble and respectful of the trail and ultra running culture.

Best purchase under $100 is a good pair of socks. My favorite are the Drymax Stephanie socks!

Bad recommendations I hear is nutrition advice from those not qualified to give it. The ketogenic or low carbohydrate nutrition advice is not evidence-based and is not beneficial for endurance performance. Yet many runners advocate this type of fueling without any real understanding of metabolism or how the body works.

I’ve been running most of my 58 years but discovered ultra running 11 years ago and have now completed 40 ultra races mainly in the UK.

I love to be running out in the hills and hope to keep running for as long as possible!

Favorite race? West Highland Way Race

How do you pack your gear for races?

My favourite bag is the The North Face Enduro 13. I really like the slim design and the fact that I can carry two water bottles at the back. I put all I need inside a dry bag to keep it all dry and safe.

If I have to carry more gear then I use an Inov-8 Race Elite 15 with a Nathan Waist pack.

I tend to carry the required gear and not much else!

What top 3 things do you always bring besides the common stuff everybody bring?

  • Dry Bag – essential to keep everything dry.
  • Windproof top as an extra layer – doesn’t weigh much and gives extra warmth when worn with my waterproof top.
  • Camera – a luxury but I like to make video diaries of my races for my blog so happy to have a bit of extra weight.

I tended to carry too much food so now I try and be sensible and only take what I think I need and will eat.

I’ve often seen people carry way too much water for the leg they are doing. Why carry two litres when there is a checkpoint in 5 miles?

What are your top tips for other ultrarunners?

Top tip would be to try everything out. I remember in a race someone’s water bottle fell out of their pack which suggested to me they hadn’t run with that pack and bottle before.

Favourite races … West Highland Way Race, Lakeland 100 and Hardmoors 110.

Training tips – make sure you have a recovery/easy week every 3/4 weeks to allow your boy to recover.

Practise on the route or similar terrain of the race as much as possible.

I’m an ultrarunner and blogger.

Favorite race? Bear 100

How do you pack your gear for races?

On my person, I carry a women’s Nathan hydration pack. I’ve been through a few models. There are enough pockets to carry my fuel and supplies and it fits snug enough that the bounce and sound does not drive me mad. In my hydration pack, I have a small blister kit, a med kit, mini flashlight, batteries, and some gels in the back pocket. I will also carry a water filter in my back pocket for runs in remote locations. In my front pockets, I keep gum, S-caps, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Sweedish Fish, Oreos and potato chips (usually).

My hydration pack blister kit includes four strips of about four inches of kinesio tape, a safety pin, packet of Neosporin, alcohol pad, and two blister band-aids. My med kit includes, gin-gin ginger chews, an antacid, anti-diarrhea, tylenol 8 hour (extra strength) and either IcyHot or tiger balm.

I’ve tried other hydration packs on at the store and done some research online. I’ve never had any issues with Nathan so I stick with them. I’ve used handhelds on shorter runs/races and they’re great for those, but I don’t use them in ultra events. I’ve used belts too for shorter runs and they make me crazy because of the bouncing.

I love the pack because I can hold enough water (2L) and fuel for longer runs. I probably carry more than many runners because I can’t rely on aid stations during a race because they don’t always have vegan options.

For drop bags I use light weight dry bags. They are great for both big and small drop bags. The small ones fit the size restrictions for most races and you can pack a lot of stuff in them. You never have to worry about your stuff getting wet either. What I put inside depends on where they are in the race and the time of day I think I will get to them. But I still have things that go in all of them. 1. replacement blister kits (see above); 2. replacement med kits (see above); 3. extra socks which can be used as gloves if needed; 4. hat either a beanie or cap; 5. long sleeve and short sleeve shirt; 6. extra batteries for headlamps; 7. electrolytes (heed or s-caps). I always put my go to fuel in there too in case I can’t eat anything at the aid station.

For nighttime drop bags, I also throw in long pants, gloves, hand warmers, and two headlamps.

What top 3 things do you always bring besides the common stuff everybody bring?

  • My incredible crew who are positive and supportive the whole way.
  • My extensive blister kit that travels with my crew.
  • My stick (massage tool) and my foam roller.

Your crew can save your race and mine has on a few times. You have to choose people who are positive and supportive regardless of your mood when you come in. A blister can destroy your race even when the rest of your body feels good or mostly good. My kit can handle pretty much any blister situation multiple times. My stick and foam roller have saved me on races with quadbusting downhills and calf killing climbs. Getting your muscles to let go of each other and the bone they surround can improve your pace and your mood.

My crew also has my extra shoes, clothing for more extreme weather, and extra fuel.

My extensive blister kit includes:
Lubricant (Aquafore or Hydropel), foot powder, second skin, Band Aid blister patches, compound tincture of benzoin, alcohol pads, kinseio tape (KT tape or Rock tape), hepafix tape, nail clippers, cotton balls, scissors, nail file, tissue, gauze, moleskin, zinc oxide, neosporin, engo tape, extra socks, ace wrap, self-adhering wrap, needles and instructions on how to treat different types of blisters: blood blisters, roof ripped off, and normal blisters.

I’m probably the queen of bringing things that others see as unnecessary. I don’t use half the stuff I bring, but having it makes me relaxed and allows me to focus on what’s important, running.

What are your top tips for other ultrarunners?

My top tip for new and experienced runners would be to train both your body and your mind. Your mind is more likely to shut your running down before your body (short an injury). You have to have multiple strategies for dealing with down moments during a race. Also consistency in training is essential as is training for specific race conditions.

My two favorite races are totally opposites. Bear 100 is a beautiful mountain race where you get to spend time alone surrounded by forests while you climb up and down thousands of feet. Pony Express 100 is flat and in the middle of the Utah west desert. The great thing about this race is your family and friends can be with you the entire race. They get to see every struggle and triumph you experience and they can assist you and join you along the course any time.

Recovery tips after an ultra event are to eat and sleep. Take one day off for every ten miles you ran and then go back slow. If you get out there, and don’t feel good, take another day.

You ultimate goal should be to run forever and your training and recovery should revolve around that idea, which means you make time for rest, eat well, sleep enough, train hard, and keep your mind sharp.

I’ve always been passionate about athletics and the outdoors and often say I’ve had several running lives throughout my career. After years away from the sport, I dove head first into ultra running. In my first year, I won the Leona Divide 50-mile in a course record time. I set the then Fastest-Known-Time for the single and double crossings of the Grand Canyon, placed second in my 100-mile debut at the Western States Endurance Run, and finished the year with a win at The North Face Endurance Challenge Championships in San Francisco.

This all set the stage for a fairytale future as a professional endurance athlete. I’ve gone on to win Western States twice, and also won three 100-mile races – Western States, Leadville and Run Rabbit Run – all in the span of 11 weeks in 2014. Competing at the highest levels of ultrarunning has offered much more – a platform for activism, an avenue to understand and grapple with depression, an opportunity to connect with my life partner, and an opportunity to share with others and build a community through the running camps my wife and I host at home in Flagstaff.

Becoming a successful endurance athlete only matters as much as it can be leveraged for good in the community and for causes that are close to my heart. I feel fortunate to have the support of my wife, the Flagstaff running community, and the amazing companies I have partnered with that make what I do possible both on and off the trail. I hope that my performances can serve as inspiration for others to make positive changes in their lives.

Favorite race? I feel hard pressed to pick a single race as my favorite but if I had to it would most likely be the Western States Endurance Run. “States” is so personal to me and has been such a part of of my trail running career. It’s not a stretch to say that this race changed the course of my life.

How do you pack your gear for races?

The North Face Base Camp Duffel, either medium or large depending on the travel and event. This bomber duffel does it all – highly water resistant, smart compartments and pockets, carries like a backpack, opens wide for easy access and is nearly indestructible.

Bonus – the medium is carry-on size for airplanes and is my go-to for short trips and travelling light. Come race day the duffel swaps duty from travel bag to the perfect crew bag.

I try to keep it pretty simple so it is easy for my crew to find what I need. I’m a big fan of ziplocks to organize different types of gear – nutrition in one, first-aid in another, and extra layers depending on conditions. I think what I pack is pretty comparable to others, I like to be thorough and anticipate the changes that might occur over the course of an ultra and adapt accordingly. High alpine and cold temps – a hat and gloves, rainy race – an extra dry raincoat. A soft side cooler has been indispensable for my hottest races including Western States when the temperature deep in the canyons more after than not exceeds 100 degrees. Ice is king and the Yeti Hopper is the perfect way to haul it around.

What top 3 things do you always bring besides the common stuff everybody bring?

I always try to be as streamlined and minimal as I can but there are a few items I never go without:
Nathan Power Shower Wipes. So many uses and amazingly refreshing means of cleaning up after a long run or race.

Duct Tape. A thousand and one uses including reinforcing the corners of my race bib so the safety pins don’t rip through.

Lacrosse ball. The smallest and simplest device for rolling out.

What are your top tips for other ultrarunners?

Patience. Completing the 100-mile distance is great and more attainable than someone unfamiliar with ultra running might think. However, respect the process and demands of ultra running requires to ensure a long and healthy relationship with it. Work your way through the distances – 50k, 50-mile, 100k, 100-mile. There are a wealth of amazing races for each of these distances and everything in between.

Don’t overdo it. It’s so easy to train too long and too hard when preparing to run a distance you’ve never run before. An experienced coach can be invaluable to train smart, effectively and safely and the accountability can be a huge motivator as well.

Consistency is king.

Fuel and hydrate early and often in both training and racing and practice race day nutrition during your longest training runs.

Strength and conditioning. Do it! Two sessions every week will pay dividends in reaching your ultra running goals and remaining healthy while pursuing them.

Favorite purchase under $100: The North Face Trail Trucker.

I’m a UK fell, mountain and ultra runner. I overcome breast cancer, and in 2016, when aged 49 years old, became the fastest person (male or female) to run a Double Bob Graham Round (132 miles, 54,000ft of ascent over 84 peaks in the Lake District, UK). The film which tells my story is called RUN FOREVER and has been viewed more than 120,000 times on YouTube. I also placed 12th at the UTMB in 2016. I own a farm in Yorkshire, England, and also coach runners of all ages. I am an ambassador for the running brand inov-8.

Favorite race? I think to claim a ‘favourite race’ you should have finished it, otherwise I would claim the Ultra Tour Monte Rosa (Alps). The 60 miles I did of the full 100 before I pulled out with a chest infection was spectacular and the event has a special place in my heart. So much so I’ve signed up again. The ultra race I’ve completed the most and still love doing is the High Peak Marathon in the UK.

How do you pack your gear for races?

I use the 10-litre race packs from inov-8. I use these because they fit women well, so I run properly without my arms bashing on the sides of the pack. They also fits snugly around my back so in high winds I’m not getting blown all over the place.

My favourite pack has three pockets down each shoulder strap which are very handy for things you need close to you. I like the way you can put a stuff-sack into it, then fill the spaces under the elastic pockets with items you don’t think you will need.

I don’t use a bladder but use that sleeve pocket for my maps. When running, I tend to put hats/gloves in the elastic pockets, as well as my spare soft flask. I used to carry a lot more than I do nowadays. That said, I will always assess the weather and take heavier kit if I think it is necessary.

What top 3 things do you always bring besides the common stuff everybody bring?

  • Crisps – salt and vinegar flavour… as long as they don’t crumble into little bits! Crinkle cut ones are the best.
  • inov-8 mitts – as I hate cold hands!
  • Sudo cream in a little film canister. I used to use Vasaline but it melts in hot weather and escapes out of the canister to run all over your kit.

Strange things:
Compulsory kit in some European races says spare batteries, but if like me, you will prefer to two head torches instead. And road books – what are they all about?!

What are your top tips for other ultrarunners?

Try everything before the race – no new gels, energy drinks, shoes, kit. Practice on your long training runs with all your kit/nutrition. Eat within 30 minutes of starting and every hour after that. There is no such quote as “I can’t eat”.

Pace the race your way. Don’t get carried away in the first half racing people; the race begins in the second. Use the first half as a warm-up. Never drop out as you enter a checkpoint – have some food and a think. Maybe it’s not as bad as all that and carrying on could be possible?

Remember the “Spinks Rule of 3”. If you think you have thought of doing something three times, you’ve probably thought of it 5-10 times as you’re not counting properly. And whatever it is – getting your coat on, finding some food, eating some food, going to the toilet, changing your socks – then after thinking of it 3 times – then NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT. STOP RIGHT NOW AND DO IT.

Bad recommendations – I heard it last night. “I don’t need to eat, I drink instead and my hunger goes away.” Hmmm -might work for an hour or two. But try it for six hours and see how your body reacts then!

Training and recovery tips – Training – make sure you taper. Two to three weeks before the event do a long race/training run and then rest. You can do short stuff but nothing over 10 miles. Whatever training you haven’t done you cannot cram into these weeks. It is better to make the body stronger by sleep, eat and drink. Prepare your kit, get organised and get your head into gear.

Recovery – I do as I feel. If I feel like racing I will race. But I am always on the lookout for my body demanding an easy time and I give it one. The full effects of an Ultra take 6/8 weeks to wear off but the body will have its highs and lows in that time. One run I feel great, two runs later like a bag of potatoes. It’s just recovery. I don’t like to stop running so I don’t but I listen and feed the body while I’m doing it.

I’m an ultra runner and an ultrarunning coach based in Byron Bay Australia. I work with clients from all over the world ranging from very elite to those just wanting to make the cut-offs.

I got into ultra running after 10 years of Ironman Triathlon ( which somehow seemed a natural progression from running track at school ) and wanting a change. I found that a simple marathon was too short! So I’ve been running for 40+ years and coaching for 20+

Favorite race? Ulta Trail du Mt Blanc – 170km with 10,000m of vertical around the Mt Blanc Massif and the Big Red Run (a 250km stage race in the Australian outback)

How do you pack your gear for races?

For 100 mile races I am currently using the Hoka One One Evo 17 Litre pack. It has four front pockets big enough to fit two 600ml bottles , a smart phone and a zip lock bag of food – which is all I need to have easy access to. And plenty of room in the rear to carry all the mandatory gear in the back

I like to keep things simple, for races where aid stations aren’t frequent I’ll carry two litres of water in the bladder in the back compartment and then in the front have 600ml of my calories (Hammer Perpetuem), my phone and a zip lock bag of dates and nuts (and sometimes white chocolate if its not a hot race).

For races with frequent aid stations I may not use the bladder and rely on just the front bottles for water and calories

In the back, the pack has several compartments so you can easily find smaller items such torch, spare torch and batteries,

I like to put items that may be used together in zip lock bags so that everything is easy to find . For example buff and gloves and thermal top in one bag, Rainjacket in another. Label the bags with something very visible so when you open your pack you can easily identify which bag you need.

Items that some races make you carry that you are unlikely to use eg compass, water proof pants I put in a bag and put that at the bottom of the pack and place the items you are more likely to use in places you can easily access . Nothing worse than stopping to grab something from your pack and having to empty the whole pack just to find it !

The main thing for any pack is to consider what your needs are. Find a pack that suits how you like to race not adjust what you like to do in races to suit the pack.

What top 3 things do you always bring besides the common stuff everybody bring?

I keep things minimal – all races have the mandatory gear so you have no choice but to carry that – usually that’s all I’ll need. If its likely to be particularly cold I may carry an extra mid layer as I feel the cold and a spare buff( one for my head and one for my face). If rain is likely to be a factor I’ll often carry some lube – chaffing is painful and preventable!

I don’t carry music as it’s just one more thing to faff around with during the race.

Food is something that people often carry way too much of or they don’t consider how it will travel in a pack. A banana might go down well but a few hours in a pack and its a mess. Given we only need 40-60g of carbs per hour even if checkpoints 4-5 hours apart its still only 200-300g of carbs needed.

People often carry way too many clothes – ideally, in training, you’ll work out what clothes you need for the conditions you are likely to experience in a race.

What are your top tips for other ultrarunners?

Top tips
Train specifically for the race – how much vert per 10km does it have – mimic that in training . If it has lots of stairs then do lots of stairs in training. If you expect to hike a lot during the race then hike a lot in training

Don’t neglect speed work – its beneficial no matter what the distance

Ensure easy runs and long runs are EASY – most people run them too fast particular beginners .

Strength work is hugely beneficial for both injury and improved performance – find time at least once a week to get in a run specific strength session.

Spend time developing your mental strength in training as the mind has a massive effect on how well you can run in the later stages of a race.

In racing start way easier than you think you should – if it feels about right then slow down a touch more!

Sleep is underrated and is the key component in recovery – people tend to focus more on things like post run drink, ice baths and stretching – none of which are going to make much if any difference on recovery compared to 8+ hours sleep

Bad recommendations
The main one is that taking electrolytes prevent cramps when there is very little evidence to support it. We are all looking for a magic fix when the real answer lies in better training and pacing strategies.

Favourite purchase under 100$
Well almost everything costs more than $100 – watch , shoes, pack , poles and most clothing so for less than $100 body glide to stop chafing would be number 1!

I got infected with the ultra-running bug on a vacation in South Africa in 2007. Not having done any serious running apart from one half marathon a year, I wasn’t sure if I would be capable of running a marathon, but a marketing flyer for the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon I came across during the vacation had a long-term impact on me. Up to that moment I haven’t even heard of ultra-marathon running.

Getting into the ultra-marathon running world changed almost everything. We now live in South Africa, I run 2-3 ultra-races a year and going out for a run is like meditating. I’m turning 48 years in 2018 and I’m stronger and fitter than ever before.

You can read more about me on my blog.

Favorite race? The life changing race for me was and always will be the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon (56 km/34.8 ml), claiming to be the most beautiful marathon in the world. The route is spectacular, scenic, and with an outstanding crowd along the route it never gets boring.

Two Oceans also gave me the opportunity to pace the sub 6 h group and be the running partner of a blind runner whose regular partner got injured 5 days prior to the race. It’s great to run a race for yourself, but very rewarding to run for more than yourself. I also run for cancer charities when participating at Comrades.

Another unique experience is the Three Peaks Challenge, also in Cape Town. Limited to some 150 runners you start in the city center and run up the three main peaks surrounding Cape Town: Devils Peak, Table Mountain and Lions Head. But you don’t take the shortest route! After each summit you return to the city center and head out to the next peak. Therefore, you meet a lot of your fellow runners multiple times and you see the dynamics of the city changing. At 4 am in the morning there are the youngsters going from club to club (and a few crazy runners), while at noon the tourists are shopping in the city. While you’re running you can always see how much you already achieved and how much is still ahead of you.

I dream of running the Spartathlon and one of the iconic races in the US. Also on my list: Hongkong 100 Trail Race – I’d love to run in these lush, green mountains.

How do you pack your gear for races?

I always found the Salomon bags/vest the most convenient for me, no matter if it’s for a long training run on the road or a trail race.

I tend to pack as little as possible. When running trails, I always have a bandage and disinfectant with me – which doesn’t mean that I recall this when I need it. During the Ultra Trail Cape Town 100 km race in 2016 I rolled my ankle 3 times (DNF was the result), but it took me 7 hours from the first incident to recall that I had a bandage in my backpack to stabilize my ankle…

What top 3 things do you always bring besides the common stuff everybody bring?

The usual gels and I don’t get along very well. I am not consuming gels for many years already.

Probably the strangest racefood I take with me is pizza. Before a race or a 50+ km training run, I have pizza the night before. And the leftover will be packed in small packages and consumed during the race. I found it extremely good to have some variety and very tasteful on the run.

I prepare my own, homemade date balls which also go into my bag and one of my flasks always gets filled with coconut water. Oh, this tastes so good!

For trails I also love taking small packs of peanut butter (best brand: Buttanut).

What are your top tips for other ultrarunners?

To be ready for tough times during a race – and there always will be tough times – we need to prepare ourselves mentally on our training sessions. I always recommend to novices to do long training session alone and without listening to music – that’s when we encounter our discouraging inner voices and where we can learn to ignore their comments like “it hurts, you should stop”, “you ran far enough, better stop”, and similar.

This year I learned that it’s not only about the mileage, but also the way how you train the rest of your muscles in your body. I used to train at the gym for at least 10 years, always following my own routine which I believed was good. Until I started working with a strength training coach focusing on runners. I’m doing core training 2x a week now and after just 3 months the difference is massive. My pace for 400m repeats for instance improved by 20 sec/km (the pace, not the time ☺) mainly because of the strength training. And I can even run really fast straight after the strength sessions.

The worst common, really bad recommendation for novices is the notion of “after a marathon you have to rest for 4 – 8 weeks, without any running”. What a nonsense. Active recovery (swimming, bike, running) is way better than sitting on the couch!

Currently, I am testing all kinds of nutrition strategies for after the runs and races, following Rich Roll’s ideas. As of now, it’s working really well! I ditch the scrambled eggs and rather have gluten free bread with avo – and recover faster.

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