Gabe Joyes - What's Next
Have you ever finished a big race and promptly someone asks you, “So, what’s next?!”...
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If you are like me, at some point in the year the answer probably is “Absolutely nothing.”
So many ultrarunners spend months on end in what I call “non-stop training mode”—always working towards that “what’s next.” That might look like slogging spring base miles through The Polar Vortex, or glowing with pride at weekly mileage and elevating gain stats that look more akin to an acceptable amount of driving in a week.
And that’s just the physical training—not to mention all of the intricacies of finding just the right shoes*, or the lightest weight pack, and that perfect pair of chafe-free shorts*. And did you train the gut for some sort of diet right? Maybe the High-Carb Low-Fat diet, or the High-Fat Low-Carb diet, or my favorite, the delicious and energizing High-Fat High-Carb diet. Regardless of how over-the-top you went preparing for that what’s next, whether it was your first ultra, a 100-miler, or some silly-long sleep-deprived adventure, at some point enough is enough, and that just might be the most challenging part of the ultrarunning season, the absolutely nothing.
So what do you do when autumn settles in and your ultra racing season is over? Here are five suggestions for managing the end of the ultra running season.
1. Keep moving
Just because you are out of training mode doesn’t mean you have to stop moving. Try riding a bike, harvest your garden, or go for a leisurely hike. Still, want to run? Ditch your GPS watch and go run a new route, scramble up a peak, or run your favorite loop in the opposite direction for once!
2. Spend time with people that don’t run with you
There are all sorts of wonderful people in the world that won’t go on a long run with you or pace you through the inevitable struggles at the tail end of a 100-miler. If you have a spouse and kids make them the priority. Get coffee with a friend or play cards with your grandparents—just remember there is life outside of the ultrarunning bubble.
3. Find other ways to become a better runner
Getting completely out of training mode is challenging, and sometimes almost impossible for some of us. If that’s the case for you, find other ways to improve as a runner that don’t involve blowing up your friends Strava feed. Now is the perfect time to take care of your achilles that you abused all summer with endless vert, or give your poor hamstrings some foam rolling rather than another interval workout. I bet you could improve your deep diaphragm breathing as well, right?
4. Give your body what it needs
If you trashed your legs all summer, witnessed more sunrises than is even pleasurable, or didn’t follow my brilliant HFHC diet, odds are that your body might need some extra nutrients and rest. My best advice here is to bake a loaf of pumpkin bread, consume it until you are comfortably full, and then go to bed 30-60 minutes earlier than normal. Prepare to be amazed at what extra calories and sleep can do for you.
5. Dream big for next year
This racing season might be over, but don’t forget the lottery season is right around the corner! Maybe don’t make Ultra Signup your web browser's homepage, but as you let the dust settle on one racing season there is nothing wrong with reflecting on the ups and downs of the year, and maybe keeping an eye on what’s next a little bit further down the trail.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gabe Joyes is a member of the La Sportiva Running Team.
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