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New Year, New You, New… Ultrarunner…?

New Year, New You, New… Ultrarunner…?

I love this time of the year! A new year always brings new energy, new goals – and new faces to our morning runs! For some of us – the consistent few – who have been running for a few years and have a few races of varied distances under our belts, the casual banter around Comrades; or a so-and-so ultra trail race; or a bucket list race like the 100 km Skyrun are the norm. We all divulge in our running year ahead and that THIS year will be THE year! The year to do that multi-day race; the year to do that first 100 km trail race; or even just the year to do our first 20km… life is looking exciting!

But then, there are others… the squeaky-clean, young saplings; fresh-out-the-box; coming to trail runs all ‘bambi-eyed’ and raring to go! Now, don’t get me wrong, the first year of MY trail running addiction was one of the best years I had ever had! To experience something so exciting and NEW; something so different; something so exhilarating… it’s an experience I will never forget… BUT… (and this is a big BUT…) nothing makes me cringe more than when you ask these new faces if they are training for anything particular – and they answer you, quite nonchalantly, that they are aiming for some crazy distance race. (HUH?!)

Take It Slow

This article sums it up quite nicely:

“For runners, the biggest enemy is often their own energy and enthusiasm.”


Enjoying the 22km Hilton College Trail Race

Running muscles – especially those for trail – take time to develop. If you read the article above, you will notice that they recommend the 10% rule – never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% over the previous week. Give your muscles the time to develop correctly; do the strength and core training to assist; run at a conversational pace; and concentrate on developing the correct and most energy-efficient running form so that you can make yourself injury-proof! Give yourself a good, STRONG foundation to work off. My injury, even though it has been the BANE of my life, has taught me to TAKE IT SLOW…

Smell the Roses and Enjoy the Small Stuff…

When first starting out, enjoy the shorter stuff and set yourself smaller goals for (at least) the first year. Trail is so different and opens up a whole new world to you – give yourself the opportunity to truly experience it! Don’t skip all the stuff in the middle just so that you can get to that BIG goal sooner.

Do those 10 km races – some can actually get quite technical – especially those short night races! Give yourself a time to beat, and once you have achieved that, then move on to the next distance…

Lesotho Ultra Trail Race - The Rush

Attempting The North Face Rush – A lung-busting 400m uphill sprint with equal elevation gain!

Personally, I LOVE the long-distance races! Nothing excites me more than aiming for a 40/50+ km trail race that will take me 6-10 hours to complete… but through this trying time, I have learnt to reassess my goals and to start appreciating the smaller races too… I give myself new goals – like achieving certain times for the 20 km races; or I just try to aim for not walking at all during another race – which can seem pretty impossible at times when faced with a ‘wall’ to get over!

In the end, Patience and Perseverance Triumphs All

Running is SUCH a rewarding sport – IF you do it properly! :) 

No matter what you want to believe, your muscles WILL take their time building the strength for the longer distance stuff – so give them the time and they will reward you in the end. See your training as a long distance journey in itself and you will get to enjoy more of an injury-free running year, and less of a running-free supporter’s year!

Happy Training!


Natasha Papini

Blogger at UltraRunner ZA
Trail running junkie, workaholic, health nut - in that order!

To call me an "outdoorsy-person" is an understatement! I run to maintain sanity and see places normal folk wouldn't normally get to experience

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About The Author

Trail running junkie, workaholic, health nut - in that order! To call me an "outdoorsy-person" is an understatement! I run to maintain sanity and see places normal folk wouldn't normally get to experience

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