One Foot in Front of the Other

“I don’t know what’s wrong with her, when she was a kid, she wouldn’t even run for a bus!” My dad’s favourite declaration when the topic of his daughter’s relatively recent running obsession comes up. However it’s true, I didn’t want to run for a bus. I also have vivid memories of my tennis coach shouting “move your feet Abigail!” and I always came last in the school cross-country. Always. In short, I was blessed with flat feet and unashamedly a zero desire to run. Anywhere.

It still makes me laugh and my parent’s, now in their more lackadaisical years, are utterly bewildered. If the truth be told, as am I. Fernie however is the perfect place to find your adventurous side and embrace a new sport. Guaranteed someone else will have tried it, be eager to join you and before you know it there’ll be a whole community of support. Trail running is pretty main stream all things considered. All you need are shoes and lungs. And of course, that simple desire to run. With a paradise of trails in your backyard, you can experience a runners' high year-round (almost), whether in a running group or solo, for 2kms or 20.

One side of trail running which has grown in recent years is the somewhat devilishly demonic Ultra Marathon scene. Anything over a marathon is classed as an ultra, with many of them encompassing running along steep and narrow passes, with punishing climbs and knee-grinding descents. Not the prettiest of pictures, but the exhilaration and enjoyment that comes from doing something so pleasantly punishing ensures a love/hate relationship like no other. Ultra Running magazines, incredible books like the factual-fiction Born to Run released in 2009 and films such as Unbreakable: Western States 100 which details the oldest most prestigious Ultra Race in the world, certainly highlights how the Ultra community and race calendar has grown in recent years.

It therefore is no wonder that Fernie now finds itself officially on the Ultra map. TransRockies is bringing the Wild Mountain 80km solo or relay race to town, on June 29. With a bike race taking place the following day. Another top event, another opportunity for out of towner’s to experience Fernie’s amazing trails and the perfect chance for Fernie runners to race not just with a home trail advantage, but with Fernie’s support clipping at their heels.

There are a few Ultra newcomers taking on this challenging 80km race, spurred on by the local factor and the desire to be punished of course. So how do you take the leap from half-marathon or marathon distance to Ultra? How do you train? Physically taking the leap is a somewhat natural progression, focus on “one foot in front of the other.” Mentally it’s a different story – from planning house renos to mapping out grocery lists, talking to other racers to having full on reciprocal conversations with yourself out loud – whatever keeps you from going totally nuts.

Luckily in Fernie, there are a plethora of trails to choose from to switch your training up and keep you from getting demotivated or demented. A few of my classic rock star favourites would be Coal Discovery Trail – rolling, soft underfoot, allowing fast feet and the sensation you’re really moving! Kush – a recent addition, especially as it eliminates some road running, linking up with Coal Discovery. Narrow and windy, keeping you busy concentrating both on your footing and where you’re going. And last but not least, Splitting Bears – a great extension from Kid’s Stuff and alternative to Eric’s Trail, you can dash through the beautiful Ewok style forest, onto Hessian and home.

But other than running more, how do you specifically train for Ultras? There is perhaps a science behind it, plus a million opinions online, which if you weren’t scared to begin with, you soon will be. So for now, go run! Michael Moore, (husband, training partner, coach, psychologist and someone to yell at when it’s all falling apart) will be sharing his training tactics next month…