Team TrainAsONE member Tom Evans has seen some great success in 2017 and is currently lying 2nd overall in the Ultra Trail World Tour (UTWT), a global series of trail races with some of the best competition out there. In a bid to get atop the podium Tom is now racing the UTMB CCC (101km & 6100m) and here is Tom’s advice on taking desert form up to high altitude and down again.
This year I have been fortunate enough to race in some varied environments. From a 1500m indoor race, to the Marathon des Sables, to Race to the Tower and most recently the Eiger Ultra Trail. There are lots of differences in these races but the fundamentals, to me, are the same.
“Pacing the race correctly is key to success“
It’s so easy in a big race to go off way too fast. The longer the race, the more you will pay for a start that is too fast. You need to remember to run your own race. Try not to worry about the people around you, easier said than done, and just focus on YOUR race. All of the hard work in the build-up to a race can be wasted when you don’t stick to your race plan. Getting the pace spot on is more difficult in the mountains as the gradient is constantly changing, but going off your heart rate or perceived level of effort can lead to a more stable effort level from start to finish.
“Control the control-ables”
There are lots of external factors that you can’t change. Thorough preparation in the build-up to a race will help you mentally and physically. I spent a week in Grindelwald in the build-up to the Eiger Ultra Trail. This allowed me to run the route and get to know the ground that I would be racing on. This left me feeling positive and in control, well as much as I possibly could be! Hydration, nutrition and kit choices also come under this & Precision Hydration helps to get this spot on. Choosing the right kit for the job is important. Everything must serve a purpose and work for the individual. Just because your favourite runner is in a certain type of trainers, it doesn’t mean they will 100% work for you, it’s an individual preference.
“Leave the sand bags at home”
Every run or race should serve a purpose. Whatever the purpose, it is essential that you stay positive. Going into races with little niggles is never a good idea, even just being tired from your training. Take your time and if you have to defer your place in the race till next year then so be it. If you are racing then think about the hard work that you have put in, the hours spent training, the horrible food you have tested, the list goes on, don’t start by being negative and making excuses about the race. Believe in yourself and put down those sandbags.
“Expect the hurt locker”
There will always be times in any race where things are hard. Don’t worry, you are not alone. No matter who you are, it’s going to get tough! But that’s what makes it a challenge. Embrace the burn and just remember how good it’s going to feel when you cross the line having run the race of your life! Think back to those hard intervals or tempo sessions where you wanted to give up and derive strength from those.
“The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can’t are both probably right”
Your mind will be the first thing to try and give up. Don’t listen to the devil on your shoulder telling you to stop. Running through different situations in your head before the race will help. Getting yourself in the correct frame of mind will really help your performance. I do a lot of visualisation which helps me keep focussed during long races.