Ever wonder how some people end up getting into ultra running and what their running and training looks like?An interesting study is Andre Blumberg – a man who was very over weight and has recently completed some incredible races on a training schedule that most people would consider fairly bizarre.
It goes to show that the best way to train is to find what works best for yourself, but it doesn’t hurt to find out about others and see what they are up to…
Here’s some more background on Andre:
In 2009, Andre Blumberg was partying at the legendary Spanish nightclub Space Ibiza, getting jiggy with his 100kg-plus physique and overindulging in food and alcohol.
Almost exactly seven years later, on May 28 this year, a much trimmer Blumberg crossed the finish line of Germany’s longest non-stop running race, the 320km WiBoLT Ultra from Wiesbaden to Bonn.
Impressively, he finished in third place with a time just over 67 hours. More amazingly, it was his fourth race of more than 200km in seven weeks, the four races making up the 1,008km Millennium Quest. He’s one of only eight people to have completed the Quest.
Now, this is certainly an outlier, but it is still impressive to see what can be accomplished when properly motivated. Just the numbers alone on his finishes are impressive.
What I’m always interested in is what people are doing, and using, in order to get these types of results.
“Over the years and learning from many ultras, I have come to rely on certain kit,” Blumberg says. These include: wearing two pairs of socks to prevent blisters (Drymax socks worn over Injinji toe socks); applying anti-chafing cream (Gurney Goo from New Zealand); a strong and reliable headlamp (Lupine Lighting from Germany); and a good pair of trail shoes that suit his wide feet (Hoka Bondi B, Altra Lone Peak, Altra Olympus and Inov-8 Race Ultra 290).
During the race, he consumes mostly liquids, usually energy drink powder mixed with water. As the race wears on he likes soups and – a combination discovered on the Quest – pasta with alcohol-free wheat beer.
Nothing there that is too surprising, at least in my mind. Some good gear and a more liquid based diet during races to help with ease of calories absorption and nausea.
How about fitness and training?
Getting between seven and nine hours of sleep every night makes a huge difference in recovery, Blumberg says. He also ices his ankles, uses a foam roller and does active recovery (low-intensity exercise like brisk walking rather than complete rest) to keep the blood flowing. Eating fresh and healthy food – Blumberg likes salad – and hydrating well can make a big difference in recovery speed as well. He also takes an amino acid supplement (both during the race and after) to aid recovery.
“It just goes to show that fitness is one aspect but not the most important one over long distances,” he says. “The mental factor is important, as well as having patience and having to manage the different aspects of the race – nutrition, hydration, logistics.” 5 secrets to running long distances, by obese Hongkonger turned ultrarunner | South China Morning Post
Seven to nine hours of sleep every night is something I rely on, not just for recovery but for general health. I usually am closer to 7 but during allergy season and after races I can certainly sleep for longer periods if given the chance.
And as always, a strong mental game is something that cannot be overstated, especially in the world of ultra running. Some people can grin and bear it, while others need different coping mechanisms. However, the commonality is getting out there and having a plan to help yourself finish those long miles…