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Our Salomon Independence Run and Hike race team member and local Reverend Will Fisher makes a 100 mile race the highlight of his racing season every year.  Here he offers some tips and suggestions to those who are dipping their toe into the 100 mile distance for the first time.

Contemplating running your first 100 mile ultra soon? Here is a brief reflection about a 100 I raced last year and almost didn’t finish.

I had a flashback to last summer, on a hot day in the San Gabriel Mountains of Southern California. I was a little over halfway through the Angeles Crest Endurance Run, a 100-mile race from Wrightwood to Pasadena. I remembered the heat. It wasn’t so hot to start off the day, but was cooking by mid-day. Late in the afternoon, I realized that I was badly dehydrated and would have to change things up if I wanted to finish the race. Here are a couple of lessons I learned or re-learned about getting through something difficult that might be more broadly applicable to life in general:

  1. When you have to do something really hard, break it down mentally into smaller units, then just focus on completing the small unit that you’re working on now. Just get yourself to the next aid station. Repeat until the finish line.
  2. Life is long. You’ll have ups and downs. The downs are not permanent. Neither are the ups. Try to run on an even keel emotionally and mentally.
  3. Take care of yourself. Eat. Hydrate. If you have to take a longer break at aid stations earlier to stay hydrated and feuled, do so; it’s better than a DNF.
  4. Remember the why of why you’re doing something. Is sport, the ‘why’ is usually a self-inflicted hardship. In life, the ‘why’ might be hidden from your understanding.
  5. Suffering, even if self-inflicted, is always easier to take with company. This is especially true if you’re racing your 100 as a solo runner. Find a fellow competitor and share in the suffering.
  6. Plan, especially your logistics and drop bags. Figure out when on the course you will need something (at which aid station should I leave a drop bag with a headlamp and warm clothes for the night? At which aid station do I need to see my crew? Etc).
  7. Know that this is probably the hardest athletic thing you’ve done. Prepare to embrace the suck: you will feel more tired/hungry/dehydrated/cold/nauseous/etc than you have ever felt before. Just keep moving forward.
  8. Finally, there are a lot of challenges that you won’t always conquer. Don’t let your fear of failing deter you from trying.

Live/run like a champion today (or at least, like a 40-something, middle of the pack masochistic adventurer)!