Last year around this time I didn't even know that ultramarathons existed. I thought the marathon was the longest race that one could run. Having run a marathon and finished a triathlon, I was constantly looking for ways to push myself harder to find my limits and break through them. Last summer was all about the mud runs. I was signing up for every race I could that had trails, obstacles and mud. Although some of them beat me down, none of them broke me. I was always back for more, looking for the next challenge.
Around August of last year I read "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall. That was when I first found out about ultramarathons. The story of Scott Jurek inspired me, Caballoblanco's life intrigued me, and the long trail run beckoned me. I had to know more.
After "Born to Run", I read "Ultramarathon Man" by Dean Karnazes, "To the Edge" by Kirk Johnson, and "Running Through the Wall" by Neal Jamison. I was officially hooked. I knew the ultramarathon was my next challenge.
The next several months I scoured the internet looking for any information I could find on running ultramarathons. I starting following runner's blogs, I joined online running groups and listserv mailing lists. Although all these sources were great wells of knowledge, I found myself drowning in information overload. For every question I had answered, a new one was born.
I did not let the abundance of questions deter me. I knew I was going to attempt an ultra before the close of 2011, so I signed up for the Run Woodstock 50M in September. Now that I was officially registered it was time to start zeroing in what I needed to do and what questions needed answering.
A few weeks ago I was reading one of my favorite bloggers, Dirt Dawg, when I saw his review for Relentless Forward Progress. The first paragraph of his review described my current situation perfectly.
"In a day and age where information is seemingly just a click away, it can be overwhelming to someone who is looking to dip their toes into a new arena like ultramarathons. Trying to sift through the seemingly endless plans, blogs, and embedded links on websites for even a newbie ultra runner, might have them DNF'ing before they even toe the line of their first ultra."
Immediately after reading this review I ordered the book from Amazon.com. I started reading it the moment it arrived. I was hooked right away. The first chapter perfectly described my desire to run a marathon as well as the concerns I was currently having. Bryon had obviously been where I am now. I felt reassured that although I have only run two marathons (one ten years ago and one 10 days ago) that I still had a shot at finishing an ultra.
The "Building Blocks" section of the book holds some great information. Some of it I had already read about, some if it was new to me, but it was all written out in a easy to understand manner.
As I continued reading I was very happy to find training plans for not only different distances, but for different maximum miles per week. I am a father of two young boys so I don't have the time for a 70 miles/week training plan, but the 50 miles/week I can do.
When I hit the "Trail Running Basics" section I knew I had spent my money well. Even with all the information I found on the internet, I still had some questions I could not find answers for. "Should I run the whole thing if I have dreams of placing in the top ten? What do I do when I have to "go". This section answered both those questions.
The next several sections answered many more of my questions about hydration, fueling, injuries and gear. As I have stated before, this book is a wealth of information.
I'll be honest, my first ultra is a local one so I didn't delve to deeply into the "Environmental Conditions" section. But as my ultra career grows, and I start to branch away from home for the new challenges, you can be sure that I will be pulling this book off the shelf again and again.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is thinking about doing an ultramarathon, as well as anyone who has just signed up for their first one. Byron has taken that unwieldy amount of information you are now getting from the internet and explains it as if he's your best friend, sitting next to you.
Get your copy today