Ultra-Training FAQ, Part 2

More frequently asked questions from ultra-training!  Miss part one?  Check it out!

Again, these are my experiences and opinions on ultra-training, what works for me does not work for everyone!  Make sure you find what works for you – that is the most important part to any training plan.

General Training


How did you build up mileage/keep high mileage without getting burned out?

I really try to go into a training cycle excited and knowing I am ready to train.  Last year I had a major case of burnout, which was something pretty new to me, and pulled out of my A race because of it.  I think this burnout happened because I didn’t take breaks in between training cycles, I just went from one race to the next for over a year! 

After I decided not to run my A race, I took the next few months to run for fun, to just enjoy running for what it was and to find my love for it again.  I started getting the itch back to train again and I haven’t had any motivation problems this training cycle. 

This training cycle was something new to me and I was really excited for it.  I looked forward to the new challenges and new places to run when trail running.  I am also lucky to have so many friends to run with, so I just used it as my social time a lot of the time.

Do you think adding more miles, but slower paced miles has helped your speed at shorter distances? for e.g. do you think you could run a faster marathon now even though you haven’t done as much speed work as you do for marathon training?

I have had a couple people tell me that this might be the case… but who really knows!  I am not going to find out anytime soon, but maybe I will in the future?  When I took the RRCA training course they were big proponents of lots of slower miles.  I honestly can’t imagine my legs running that fast right now, but I have seen it work on a number of my friends.


Tell me about your hydration packs/vests!

Keep reading!

Dec 453a

Do you use a hydration pack? I see the Nathan vest, but that doesn’t have a water pouch. Or Do you use a hydration pack? If not, how the heck do you keep hydrated for hours on the trail?

I use a few different things: 

  • I have a Nathan vest that doesn’t hold water but I haven’t used that much this training since it doesn’t hold water.
  • I use my Nathan Intensity pack on long, unsupported trail runs where I need to carry a lot of my own water.
  • I use my Hydrapak vest for shorter runs, supported runs, or runs where I know I will definitely have chances to refill.
  • I use my Amphipod handheld for all road runs. 

Do you find you have chafing from the vest/hydration pack? Is a seamless shirt necessary?

I haven’t had any chafing problems from any of my packs, but I always wear tech tops underneath.

January 22, 2012 138

Most pictures show you with just a handheld – how do you hydrate enough with that?

I use a handheld on all my road runs and some shorter trail runs.  I pretty much always refill it, especially the small one, so I am drinking way more water than just the handheld holds.

Feb 003

Do you wear compression socks during the race or just after? Favorite brand?

I love my CEP Compression socks!  I wear them before run, during runs and after runs.  I don’t necessarily wear them on every run, but I did get in the habit of wearing them on a lot of runs when my legs were achy and tired.  Do they work?  I don’t know for sure, but I like the support they give and they kept me warm on those chilly winter mornings where I always wanted to wear shorts.

Do you wear gaiters?

I don’t have any.


Tell me about trail shoes and feet sores prevention? 

I am currently running in Brooks Adrenaline ASR 8 trail shoes.  Since I run in Brooks Adrenaline for my road shoes, they were an easy transition.  I also have the gore-tex version and really like those!

I don’t really do anything special for my feet.  I get blisters and when I do I take care of them, but I don’t make many precautions before hand.  I have found the shoes and socks that my feet are happy with and work for me. 



Where I live there are very few trails and very few hills…I’m extremely jealous of the gorgeous pictures you always post! One of my main hold-ups on signing up for a race is that the closest trail (which has about 15 miles of loops) is 30 minutes away. And that’s about it…and it’s a park that charges an entrance fee, I’ll go broke driving and paying to get in! Any thoughts on what runners like me stuck in the flat, dull midwest can do?

I am very lucky to live in an area with SO many trails!  I do drive a lot to do trail runs though.  When I go to the headlands, I drive 45 minutes and cross 2 bridges (= 2 tolls), so it’s not the cheapest way to get a run in.  The hills, change of scenery and everything that comes with it are worth it to me. 

Does anyone that doesn’t have easy access to trails have any advice?

IMG_0829 Jan 005a

Do you do most of your long runs alone, or with others?

Both!  I try to do my long trail runs with someone, but also enjoy my alone time while running.  It really just depends on the week and the distance I have.  A lot of times I can talk a friend to running part of a run with me, which is a nice combination!


How many of your runs do you do on road vs. trail?

Right now I do pretty much all of my weekday runs on the roads just out of convenience.  I typically do a majority of one long run on the roads and one on the trails.  I really want to up my trail running very soon.


Do you ever run for time, rather than miles? I don’t have a Garmin, and when that is combined with very limited trails, I think a lot of my runs will be restricted to just randomly running loops (which are poorly measured and marked, but in a small enough park I can’t get lost) for time. Do you see pros/cons to running by time not miles?

A lot of the ultra-training plans I looked at were in time instead of miles.  The only problem I had with them, was I think they were tailored to faster trail runners.  Since I have to run 50 miles no matter what, I personally wanted to get the miles in.  But my brain also works in miles.  I think if you have a general idea of your pace, a timed run would be perfect!

Any books/magazines/websites specific to ultra training you recommend?

I haven’t had much time for anything that involves reading lately.  If I find some in the future I will share!  Any readers have recommendations?

Have you found any ultra-sweatproof sunscreen?

I just wear a 70 proof sunscreen I found that works well. 

Are bugs an issue on the trails you usually run? I know winter has helped, but do you wear bug spray? If so, what kind?

Luckily I haven’t really had any bug problems.  I imagine in the spring/summer this might be more of an issue?

Questions {with a possible sarcastic tone?} that made me laugh

Will you ever go back to ‘normal’ running?

Depends on your definition of normal.  This seems pretty normal to me right now – hah!  I have no idea what is in store for me after April 7th, but with the way I have been feeling lately, I feel like trail running and ultras are a thing that will stick around for a while.

Are you really human?

Most definitely!  I hurt, I cry, I laugh, I get tired, I slow down.  I am just lucky that my legs and body do most of everything they ask me to, at least this far!

Thanks for all the great questions!  As always, if you have more, don’t hesitate to comment or email.

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26 Responses to Ultra-Training FAQ, Part 2

  1. Nina March 28, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Thanks for sharing! So many useful information even for “more-normal” runners ;) good luck with the race!

  2. Carrie March 28, 2012 at 10:25 am #

    Love it! I really know nothing of ultra running, so I’m learning quite a bit by reading your posts. :)

  3. Audrey March 28, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    I love the FAQ posts! Wishing you a great taper and I’ll be cheering you on from LA on April 7.

  4. Lauren @ Sassy Molassy March 28, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    I like the last question – are you human? Ha! Great work, Aron! You’ve been training hard and are ready for this. On a side note, I wore my compression socks for the first time on my run this morning and felt like a dork. Oh well, who’s judging me at 6am while I’m running anyway? But I do love them for post workout recovery as well.

  5. RunningLaur March 28, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    :) Question asked in a loving tone! I’m so happy you’re enjoying trails and ultras!

  6. abbi March 28, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    I enjoy reading these…I love my Nathan intensity pack and I’ve never had issues with chafing, even when I wear it with just a tank top. For the books/magazines question, I did read the Relentless Forward Progress book, quick read, nothing earth-shattering, basic stuff but decent and I love Trail Runner magazine.

    • Aron March 29, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

      Awesome, thanks for the recs!

  7. shelly March 28, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    Another great round of Q&A. You really did get some great questions.

    My pack chafed my back the very first time I used it. Now I seem to always chafe in that same spot, no matter what. But it has never been as bad at that first time. I guess I’ll see how it is after a 100 miles before I say I can just live with it. ;-)

    The time vs. miles question. Many runners I know run for time. Of course these are runners who understand effort as well. So if a time plan is used, effort has to be part of the equation. Very few runners are going to practice being on their feet for the full amount of time that they anticipate their length ultra will take them. So practicing being on their feet for a percentage of the anticipated time exerting proper effort (given the race course/surface) will help them be prepared to finish their race. But clearly time training is not for everyone. Maybe a healthy mix of distance runs and time runs would help a runner know which might work best during their training cycle.

    • Aron March 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

      Thank you!! Always love your input :) can’t wait for your 100 mile experience!

  8. Rena March 28, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    Thanks for sharing. Reading your blog always makes me want to take up trail running. I just have to get over my fear of hills.

  9. Kara March 28, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    I have a Nathan hydration vest and I love it. The only time I ever regretted wearing it was my actual 50 mile race haha, but that was only because I didn’t realize how well supported it would be. I could have gotten by with just a handheld, but then I wouldn’t have had a place to stash my Gu and candy.

    That’s my big tip for you: bring ginger candies on the race. They can be a lifesaver when you get queasy…which will probably happen. :)

    • Aron March 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

      Ohhh good rec – thank you!

  10. Chicken March 28, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    I seriously CANNOT wait for this race! I’m not even running it (nor would I run that many miles), but I’m so excited for you! I can’t wait to hear all about it.

    Question: What do you do about bathroom breaks? Go in nature or plan your route around a toilet? This is always my biggest problem with training and races!

    • Aron March 29, 2012 at 2:09 pm #

      Most of my routes have bathrooms somewhere along the way… but with trail running, nature stops do happen if need be ;)

  11. Charlyn March 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm #

    I love reading about all of your trail running! It’s seriously giving me a major craving to hit the trails, but I live in Chicago- so not many options around here. But I am eyeing a crazy hilly trail marathon in the fall near my mom so all of your tips might just come in handy to me :)

    Youre seriously a rock star balancing your life with work and running! :)

  12. Tia@RunnerMom March 28, 2012 at 8:51 pm #

    Great post! I’ve learned so much just from reading your posts and seeing your workouts on Daily Mile. I’m so excited for you!!

  13. bethp262 March 29, 2012 at 4:13 am #

    Lots of good info in this post! Adding my 2 cents here:
    I just ran my first 50 mile and I also do not have convenient access to trails. So what I did was on my long run each week was to run on grass as much as I could during the run (the strip of grass between the road and the sidewalk). This helped my legs get the feel of running on soft/uneven surfaces plus slowed my pace down to where it should be for an ultra.
    Also a couple of books I read:
    Relentless Forward Progress- this is a guide to ultra running with lots of tips/advice, etc.
    Hitting The Wall- this is a collection of essays from people’s ultra experiences. Basically a collection of race reports. I really enjoyed reading it.
    Hope that is helpful to some of your readers!

    • Aron March 29, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

      Awesome recs!!! Thanks for sharing them, I will be sure to use them too ;)

  14. allpointswhole March 29, 2012 at 7:41 am #

    I absolutely love this and can not wait to get into trail running myself

  15. Ricole Runs March 29, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Another Question for you! What’s a gaiter?

  16. Tasha March 29, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    You are amazing! I just stumbled onto your blog after doing my first trail run recently (only 10 miles and that was tough!) and I am completely in awe that you are going to do a 50 mile trail run! Wow! Good luck and way to go!!!

  17. Megan March 30, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    I agree, Relentless Forward Progress and Hitting the Wall are great books for ultra beginners. irunfar.com is a great blog for ultra runners and the website run100s.com has great resources.
    There’s also ultrarunning.com which has a few good articles on training and racing.

    Can’t wait to hear your recap of the race next week!

  18. linda April 1, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    WhAt do you do with mud and WETSHOES? do you keep track of them? I read somewhere shoes lose their cushion after being wet? Any truth to that? Just wondering if I should subtract x miles for each time they’ve been wet? Thank you. Enjoyed your blogs.


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