Its already been a week since the NDW100... I can't quite believe it! I'm in a reflective mood and eager to learn from my successes and failures whilst they are still fresh in my mind so that next time goes even better. There may even be a few take aways for others here too. So in no particular order what I have leant for my next 100:
1 - Lycra!! Never leave home without it. The £5 lycra shorts worked a treat! Never ever wear normal running shorts for an ultra again if you want chaf and pain free running!
2 - Sudocrem!! It's the best anti-chaffing product out there bar none! Designed for nappy nash but cheap as chips its way better than any 'running' specific creams I've used on the market. No amount of sweat will make this stuff budge!
3 - Hydration!! Not everyones preference but the 2 camelbak handheld bottles with quick grip holders were great. Easy and quick to refill at aid stations, and you drink more on the run to ensure you stay well hydrated. And because you have two containers rather than one camelpak for example you can have two different drinks. On the NDW on some sections i had coke in one and water or weak diluted energy drink in the other. The coke was awesome!
4 - Tempo!! Going out at a good tempo worked for me. In going out at 10mpm pace and running this pace for as long as I could and as the terrain dictated was I think the right approach. I of course slowed down as the miles wore on and my average pace for the 100 miles was 13:20mpm but the alternative is to go out more conservatively at perhaps 12mpm pace and try to maintain this pace for the entire distance. I think this puts you at a disadvantage from the beginning and the likelihood of then not slowed down is very remote. So if I had the chance again I would do it exactly the same way. However next time I will hopefully be fitter and able to maintain 10mpm pace for far longer!
5 - Support crew!! Having a pacer for the final section especially during the night is a real advantage and definitely makes the time go quicker, as well as keeping you honest and on pace. I'm sure I could have been up to 1/2hr slower without my dad there. Of course not every 100 mile event allows them but if they do use them! And any talk of it making it any less of a challenge is nonsense. All the elite runners have pacers both on the track and in the marathons and ultra marathons so why shouldn't the average Jo too!
6 - Ditch the ipod!! I didnt run with an ipod and not for one minute did I even think that it would have helped to be plugged in. There were many runners on the NDW that did but surely the whole point of trail running is to get out there and enjoy nature and get in the moment. Music can somewhat mask all the positive feelings that rush through your body when running. My advice ... Leave the ipod at home.
7 - Food glorious food!! Despite the name of my blog 'running on empty' it is not advisable for a 100 miler. I got my nutrition wrong for the NDW. You should never rely on what the aid stations may or may not provide. Stuff your drop bags with a good variety of savoury foods that will fuel your fires without. On a plus point I thought the slimfast shakes were really good and I would definitely use them again. My new favourite bar is '9 Bar original'. These things are absolutely awesome and way cheaper than most - box of 3 less than £2 in tescos. Avoid Mule Bars though... these things are horrible and way too heavy.
8 - Injinjis!! I've said it before on my blog but I love the Injinji 5 toe socks. Personally I haven't found a better sock and wouldn't buy anything else now. 100 miles and zero blisters is surely the only evidence needed! The ones I wore on the NDW were the Injinji Compression sock.
9 - Positive Attitude!! I really went into this race knowing it would go well, which I think is partly because of how my training had gone but going in a race with a positive attitude makes all the difference. If you go into a race thinking it won't go that well and that your training wasn't great then it will probably play out exactly as expected...
10 - X training!! Before this year I really didn't cross train that much apart from the occasional trip to gym and bike ride. The ElliptiGO and the 1,600+ miles I put in in 2011 on my weird bike has really made the difference to my training. Most importantly its kept me injury free and long may it continue! So that's my top 10 reflections from the race and training.