Planning is key

There is this saying, ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ and I completely agree with it. Especially for longer distances, everything stands (or falls) with proper planning. In this blog post I will discuss my PERSONAL planning when it comes to big events. Bear in mind that this is different for everyone and you should therefore not just copy it.



Training


Every distance has its own preparation, and this also depends on what your ambitions are. Do you want to run a fast time or merely finish the distance? Depending on what you choose, your trainings will look differently.


Maybe some of you remember, but I was overtrained in February. I was tired all the time, 8 minutes of running felt like 8 hours and my mind was not in the right place as well. Luckily this changed already after a couple of weeks, however, I decided to keep my weekly mileage at a comfortable 50K. To find the fun again in running, I was merely doing what I felt like doing (with a little bit of structure). However, my body quickly started to give signals that it wanted to incorporate some more speed sessions. Thus came the idea to improve my old personal best at the 10K.


I started to do some more speed sessions, but I kept doing longer distances as well at a very low intensity. Mid April I broke my personal best, however, due to the still kind of general trainings I feel like I still have a lot of marge to improve. BUT I did intentionally choose to not focus too much on the fast 10K since I had a dream that kept returning; running my first ultra.


After a couple of days of rest, I did a 25K trail run with my dad. Since my body felt really good, I decided to do the week afterwards 30K. When after this run I only felt a little bit tired, but not extremely, I decided it was the right time for my ultra. So here we are, a week after my 30K and tomorrow I will run my first 50K.



Nutrition


I have been a vegetarian for 6y and I started eating vegan since January 2020, but I actually hate that term. It feels like really strict. So when people ask me what my diet is, I always answer ‘plant based’. I will not start scanning labels to see if a product is 100% vegan, nor will I oblige friends or family to cook something special for me when I come over.


However, due to my consistent diet that contains a lot of vitamins, minerals and fibres, I am capable of pushing my body a lot. It is absolutely key to nourish yourself with proper food if you want to push your limits but not overdo it.


When it comes to macro nutrients (proteins, fats and carbs), I try to make sure that my protein and fat intake is sufficient on a daily basis. I sometimes have some periods that things such as bread, potatoes, pasta, … will not appear in my diet simply because I don’t feel like eating them. When I notice that this is happening, I plan my trainings accordingly (more fat-based, low intensity than glycogen-based, high intensity). Always listen to your body, because that is how you will get the best results.


When a big event is coming up, a couple of days before I will steadily increase my carb intake. I will have at least one meal that contains pasta, one meal with bread or potatoes and the third I can choose. However, I have noticed that my body is not too happy with this so I try to keep this period as short as possible. The overload of carbs makes me often feel groggy and slow, and this is not exactly pleasant to feel before an event.

Moreover, I try to drink at least 3L of water and I recently started with drinking fruit juice as well during this carb loading period (I normally don’t drink fruit juice, I rather eat my fruit). Foods high in saturated fat I stay away from and also alcohol is something I will not consume the last days of my preparation.



Mentally


Many people keep underestimating this, but I am a firm believer that you finish a marathon 60% because of training and 40% of your mindset. So why is there almost none or little attention to this part?


What works very well for me, is to have some sort of routine. If it is a road race, I will analyse the parkours with my dad to see where he can wait to give me some water/ gels and I will make my playlist for during the race. I will also get all the food that I planned to eat so I will not encounter any unpleasant surprises before the event. Furthermore, I like to gather all my stuff (shoes, outfit, gels, …) a few days in advance so be sure that I have everything.


The last thing I do is to go over all the things that can go wrong and already find a possible solution for them or a possible thought (eg, when it is raining; everyone is getting wet so you will not be the only one having a bad time). It helps to calm down your nerves and you will get more excited since it will feel like nothing can go wrong that day.


This is more or less my preparation, but like I said before, this is very personal and my first ultra is also not an event that I wish to finish fast. I will let my legs decide the pace, but the most important for me will be to finish, and also enjoy, it.

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