August 30, 2020

Race and Adventure Prep 103: Let’s Geek Out With Logistics


Course Map/Review Elevation Profile

First and foremost, it is the athlete’s responsibility to find and pursue adventure. It is not your coach’s job to put races or adventures on your radar.

Like any good student, taking ownership of your goal requires an intimate familiarity with your subject matter and in this case, it’s the course you’re running. For those racing, this means knowing not just where your race starts and finishes, it’s knowing where the big climbs are, where more technical terrain is located and where the faster sections are. It’s doing your homework, possibly even pre-viewing the course. The less mental energy you expend on navigation, the better on race day! Know the course and what to expect. Know the elevation profile. When planning for an adventure, use these same principles!

Aid Station Locations and Distances 

Zoë’s arm preparing for the BRT FKT.

Zoë’s arm preparing for the BRT FKT.

For racers, it’s paramount to know the location and distance to aid stations along the course. These aid station locations are not only important for you in order to access the nutrition, hydration and emergency services offered during the race, but can also serve as small benchmarks to focus on along the course. (Zoë and TJ like to write aid station distances and course elevation on their forearms with Sharpie beforehand.) Smaller distance goals that make up the large goal itself. For adventurers, knowing the location of key streams, rivers, water caches, or parking lots for crew to meet you can be especially important as well.

Being prepared will help you get more out of your run while reducing unnecessary stress and mitigating situations that goal be risky, like running for long periods of time without the proper hydration.

Here’s an example of Zoë’s race plan from the Crested Butte 105k. The plan lays out an ideal timeline for the race (while saving room for what to do on a bad day!) with specific instructions for crew on what food she wanted, what hydration she’d need, and what to tell her in terms of both encouragement (You’re doing great! The race hasn’t started yet. You’re 14 minutes ahead of pace) and logistics (six miles until the next aid station, you have a 1,000 ft climb). Being ready to OWN your race day plan is a critical step towards being ready to own your race day!

Your coach cannot plan your race day for you. Learning how to plot this out for yourself is a valuable skill, and will help you develop the same problem-solving skills and resilience you’ll need on race day.

Screen Shot 2020-08-30 at 5.31.54 PM.png

For Longer Races, Use Crew and Pacers

Responsibly recruit friends and family when and if allowed. Make sure to check your specific races rules for crew guidelines. Most races have guidelines on how to use crew, when and where they are allowed to be. When putting your crew together, make it clear to them what nutrition/hydration needs you have, when and where they need to go, and present that information in a clear way. We’ve found it helpful to pre-label crew bags with location, the stop number, and contents.

When each planned stop has a clear bag with the contents inside, it is very easy for the crew to offload those items to the athlete when they arrive. Your crew should know to ask you specific predetermined questions about the race, they should know what you like to eat and what they are giving you. They should know where on the course you are and where they will meet you next. Do not wing it. The more specific details the crew has, the better able they are to assist you as you get tired and rely on them for more support. This is very important for 100k + distances. 

When picking pacers, make sure you talk to potential recruits about their comfort level with the distance and terrain is. Many of your friends will be willing to support you, but make sure they’re physically up to the task as well. If your fastest friend is not someone you’d want to have a vulnerable breakdown in front of, they may not be a good pacer! Pacers need to be ready to show up both mentally and physically for their runners.

An ideal pacer is someone whose physical ability is solid(you’ll have enough to think about on race day, you don’t want to be worrying whether or not you’re going to drop a pacer) and who knows you, and knows the best way to encourage you when you’re having a tough time.

Be Strong

While you’re going to have a rockstar crew behind you, resist their coddling as much as possible. Tie your own shoes. Fill your own water bottle when you can. Reinforce at every point throughout the race how capable and strong you are. Being autonomous will help you stay out of a helpless mindset when the going gets tough.

This all boils down to the idea that the better prepared you are for an adventure, race or FKT, the more you’ll be able to get out of that experience. Being prepared is a big way to bet on yourself and not undersell your potential. YOU ARE AMAZING. Plan with that fact in mind!!