Training for an event like the Badwater Ultramarathon, Solo or the Badwater SSC you will have challenges in your training. Things that are routine for a marathon or shorter mileage race are anything but for ultramarathons. How do you simulate heat, terrain, distance, and fatigue of a 50, 100 mile or longer race?
In a sense, marathoners have it easy. Most people run a marathon in 3-4 hours. So their training is never longer than 20 miles long or three hours most often. Most marathons are run when the weather is likely to be favorable unless you intentionally pick a race in hot or cold climate. This is not to say marathons or half marathons are easy. They’re not. They are grueling and the hardest thing most people will ever do in their life.
Ultra distance marathons are different. How do you train for a 100 mile ultramarathon or further? One that runs over mountain ranges or through a desert? How do you keep a life when you have family, and a career outside of running? These are the bigger challenges when you have to go on training runs that last 8,10,12 and sometimes 24 hours long. And that is just the training leading up to race day.
To make this even harder, the recovery is longer and more intense. A 50-mile training run wipes you out – sometimes completely for two days. You have less energy and you’re mentally numb as your body stabilizes. You might feel good … considering what you did the day before. But don’t plan on putting in a killer day in the office at optimum productivity. It is not going to happen.
Can you ever really train for an ultra distance race? Not really. You simulate the race day environment as much as you can and you prepare in any way that you can, but what it comes down to on race day is – how bad do you want it?
Is it really this hard? Yes, and even more so. Depending on the level of your training and how competitive you are it can be way harder. Reading books like “Eat & Run” by Scott Jurek or “Running on Empty” by Marshall Ulrich give great insight into the life of an ultra distance runner. These books will frighten you … and if you have that matching genetic code, it will excite and inspire you.
Running something like Badwater SSC is way more than just race day. Way more than just 60-80 hours of pushing a cart through one of the harshest environments on Earth. It is months of training (most likely years), constant soreness, persistently pushing to the edge of injury and the ultimate dedication to your goal. If I can do train for this with a family, a business and busy speaking career, what can you do? How much bigger can you live your life? It is never about can you – it is always about WILL YOU?