“Dirty Secret Tips” in Ultra Trail Running

The following “dirty secret tips” are highly recommended to those runners who will be participating/competing in the TNF 100 Solo Run which will be held on 23-24 May 2009:

1) On problems of Bowel Movement & Gastro-Intestinal “Issues”—At least 1 1/2 to 2 hours before the start of a long race (marathon or ultramarathon distance), take one (1) tablet of Diatabs or Immodium.  An intake of one tablet will “stabilize” the food and fluids in your stomach/intestines for the next 24-36 hours or even as long as 48 hours. Just be sure that after the race, take a lot of hydration fluids/water and fresh fruits to lessen any problem of constipation.

2) On Pain Relievers—This is one aspect where nobody among the trail runners openly admit that they take “pain relievers” before or during the race. But I have a strong suspicion that these “hardcore” runners take Ibuprofen; Tylenol; or any pain relieving tablets during races. If you are joining the TNF 100 Solo Run, try to take one Alaxan FR after running your first 25 kilometers. That pain reliever will bring you to the finish line without any major leg pain or muscle cramps as long as you follow your food/hydration strategy and race strategy.

3) Dose of Caffeine—GU Roctane had always been my favorite sports gel that has more caffeine than ordinary sports gel. There are other Sports Gel which have the same properties and purpose like the Hammer Gel but I’ve never tried it. Try to take a GU Roctane sports gel every 10-12 kilometers. This regular intake will make you awake during night time and give you the much-needed energy during the race. (Note: Do not litter the trail with those GU empty packs)

4) Preserve Your Strength—On the first half (50 kms), maintain a slow pace and try to preserve your strength for the last 50 kms of the course. Brisk-walk while you are going for the uphill climb and then run on the downhill and level portions of the route. If you think you still have the strength on the last 10-20 kms of the route, then go for it for a strong and hard finish. Learn to brisk-walk and practice in the urban streets of Metro Manila through “walkabout”. Put more time on your feet to the ground. Expose yourself to the heat of the sun during your “walkabouts”.

5) Recon the Place of the Race—Get the map of the route and conduct a “test run”. Don’t wait for the Race Organizer/Race Director to call for a “test run”. Take the initiative and be the first to explore the route. Such initiative will give you the much-needed confidence to finish the race and apply your race strategy. “Knowing the Enemy” or “Know The Terrain” simply does the trick in ultra train running survival. You can also conduct a “test” if there is any cellphone signal in the area. By conducting a recon of the trail route, you will be able to determine your hydration needs and be able to adjust on what type of  hydration pack you are going to bring for the race. You will find out if you need extra clothing needs for the race if you conduct your “test run” in the race route. (Note: The place always rain in the afternoon) 

6) Energy & Chocolate Bars—Expect that there will be no solid foods or “hot” meals to be served in the Aid Stations. The most practical solution for this is to have Energy Bars and/or Chocolate Bars or dried fruits in your shorts pockets or in your pack. (Note: Do not litter the trails with those empty packs of your energy/chocolate bars and other thrash)

7) Extra trail shoes and socks—Through your “test run”, you’ll be able to find where you can have your drop bag located along the route. There is a need to change your shoes and socks as they will become wet due to river crossings and perspiration from the body. Try to look for running socks made of “Coolmax” or “DryMax” materials. I highly recommend them, as well as, from famous ultramarathon runners. During your “test run”, try to run with your wet shoes & socks after crossing those lahar-filled river and test how it feels to run with them (to include some lahar sands inside your shoes).

8) 3-Pocket Trail Shorts—If you don’t want to carry too much load on your pack, get a trail shorts with pockets where you can store your energy bars and sports gels.

9) 2-Bottle Hydration Belt—I prefer to use this type of hydration belt/pack rather than using a bladder hydration pack like Camelbak or TNF Thresher. I have an option of using one bottle for water and another one for sports drinks/electrolyte drinks. Alternately, sipping water and electrolyte drinks would be a nice hydration strategy during the race, making sure your hydration supply will last up to the next Aid Station. When I joined my first Bulldog 50K, I was using my “Small On The Back” Nathan Water Belt for my sports drinks and a “Quick Draw” Hand-Held Nathan Water Bottle for my water. It worked perfect for me.

10) Headlights & Flashlight—Be sure to have those lights during the race, most especially during your night movement. Bring fresh/new batteries just in case you need immediate replacements.

11) Petroleum Jelly and/or Body Glide—Blisters on your feet are prevented by applying petroleum jelly or Body Glide in-between toes and entire feet. This is also to include the crotch area, nipples, upper right arms, Heart Monitor strap area and armpits.

12) Runner’s Cap, Sunglass, OFF Lotion, Sunscreen Lotion, Watch, Bandana & Compass—Bring these items to the race for obvious reasons. Why for a Bandana? Aside from being a “coolant” on your neck when it is already damped and wet with your perspiration, you can use it to cover your mouth to prevent those small insects to get into your mouth as you inhale, on daytime or nighttime.

13) Run With A Group or Have a “Buddy”—Be sure to have somebody with you as your “buddy” during the run or come up with a group of 3-4 runners to make the trail run more fun and enjoyable. You must be running almost at the same pace. Alternately, act as “guide” or “pacer” for the group. Try to Help & Motivate each other to finish the race.

14) Do the “drills” and try the “100-Km Challenge”—One of the “drills” I’ve picked up from my readings and been doing for the past months is the one-leg squats or one-leg bending. Using only one leg, try to bring down your butt at the exact position when one of your legs land on the ground while running and then bring up your butt with the leg straight. Repeat this bending for the next 5 minutes. Do the same one-leg bending to the other leg with the same number of minutes. Try to increase the number of minutes until you are comfortable doing the drill for one hour or more. For your endurance test, find out my previous post on “100-Km Challenge” and try to experience it. 

15) Lastly, the Camaraderie and Helping One Another During The Race is the most important virtue to be developed and encouraged in ultra trail running races. Competition among runners and yourself is only second to the love of the sports itself. Try to develop that habit of asking a runner who is sitting or lying on the side of the trail of what is his condition so that you can relay such information about him to the next Aid Station. Try to share what you have for runners who are in need during the race. You will never know when you need also some help from the other runners. 

Do not “whine” during and after the race. If you “whine”, then you did not do your homework!

Good luck to all the TNF 100K Solo Runners!!!

7 thoughts on ““Dirty Secret Tips” in Ultra Trail Running

  1. ericssoc

    i’ll surely make a mental checklist of these sir Jovie. very informative.

    during the TNF100 Nasugbu Solo Race, the ‘camaraderie’ factor did wonders for us 5 who treaded the last 50k (bet 6pm to 7am) and crossed the finish line together. we invited others along the trail to join us, but they refused. we found out later they quit the race after a few kilometers. oh yes, moving as a group in the 2nd lap will keep one sane.


  2. runnerforchrist

    I think I already have the 95% tips for that TNF100 solo, very informative and Sir don’t forget my “bandanas” this coming Sunday!
    God bless.


  3. therunningninja

    Oh man I have a problem. I’m allergic to ibuprofen (or any NSAIDS drugs) such as alaxan. I think I have to bear with the pain then. I usually end up with swollen face and palpitating heart beat when I take alaxan…I got to think of plan B….

    The Running Ninja


  4. I use over the counter pain relievers in my races and most ultras I’ve done have them available at the aid stations. I usually carry a couple of doses of ibuprofen but after reading the latest article in Runnersworld I’m going to go back to Tylenol/Acetaminophen. Supposedly, according to the article, it doesn’t present problems with the kidney or gut. I’ve never had problems while taking pain relievers out there but I don’t take much and I always make sure not to take them when I’m dehydrated. None would be better of course.

    Here is a link to the latest article that they have now posted online:


  5. Pingback: “Dirty Secret Tips” in Ultra Trail Running « Bald Runner | TeamSportZone.Com

  6. Pingback: 2009 Botak 42k « Mukhang Guilty’s BLOG

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