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New ultra runner: 8 things I learned in my first year of racing

Written by Fiona

February 13 2019

Davie Easton did his first ultra race last year – well, actually he did three ultra races in his first year. He reveals some of the things he has learned as a newcomer to ultra running.

Davie is 46 and lives in Motherwell with his wife. They have three sons aged eight to 20. He says: “Over the years, I’ve done a few different fitness things. Crossfit was my thing for years, then I got into strongman, but through all of this I really hated running.

“Fast forward a few years and I found a love for trail running. Getting out into the local parks and woods helped to clear my head of daily life.

“Finding a love of longer runs, I signed up for a trail marathon in 2017. Then in 2018, I decided to pop my ultra cherry and took part in three races:  Glen Lyon, Clydestride and Glen Ogle.”

Davie also very kindly told me that he finds my list of Scottish ultra marathons very useful for planning. In 2019, David has entered:

David is looking forward to a second year of ultra running.

8 things Davie learned in his first year of ultra running

1. Pick a race you want to do, hilly, flat,  middle of nowhere, middle of a city. Choose one that you think you will enjoy.

2. Get a training plan suitable for the race you are doing. I am lucky to have Katie Hall as a friend and as my coach and she has programmed all my ultras. Family life and work can get in the way, but consistency is the key.

3. Walking is allowed. After doing a few road races over the years, I had it in my head I had to run the full distance but that was never going to happen in the longer runs.

I discovered that it is better to walk, look around at the scenery, take photos, talk to other runners, as well as run.

I now walk up the hills and use this section to get my breath back. In these ultra races you need a long game plan.

David discovered ultra running in his late 40s.

4. Practise race nutrition. Find out what your body can handle, whether it is gels, Tailwind, sandwiches, baby food, whatever it is. Everyone is different.

5. Never leave someone behind. If you find an injured runner, help hem. If that means your plan goes out the window, it doesn’t matter. Ask yourself:  Would you like someone to leave you behind?

6. Say thanks to race marshals: If it wasn’t for these people (usually doing this for free) you probably wouldn’t be able to race.

“Enjoy the scenery and say thank you to the marshals,” says David

7. It’s ok to come last. I’m never going to win a race, so I never worry about what position I finish. I have actually finished dead last in a hill race before.

8. Be tough. You can do more than you think. Don’t give up, and definitely do not listen to that wee voice in your head telling you to quit.

I always remember this quote from Haruki Murikami: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional”.

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