Five Things To Do After Finishing Your First Ultra

By Crista Tappan - June 24, 2013

1. Wash your clothes. And hydration packs/bottles. And shoes. 

Image via FitSugar.com

I forgot to do this, and two weeks later my dirty/smelly/disgusting shoes and clothes looked petrified. I found my handhelds with the remnants of soda stuck to the inside of each bottle. Half-eaten packs of energy gels shoved into my race vest. It was an ultra-disaster (couldn't help myself) and it could have easily been solved if I took care of it earlier.

Save yourself this misery and take care of it right away.

2. Go on vacation (if you can). Or plan a really fun day of relaxation.

Three days after I finished my first ultra I went to Austin, Texas to visit my best friend Laura for a week. It couldn't have been more perfectly planned. It was my second time visiting the city, and I was endlessly grateful that I wasn't very sore. I spent the week shopping, exploring, saving turtles (they like to cross high-ways, bad idea little dudes!) and even a little trail running!

Can you believe this is in the middle of Austin?

What was the best part of vacationing after an ultra, you say? 

The food.

Which brings me to my next point.

3. Eat a delicious meal. Or two. Or three.

One of the best parts of ultrarunning is the guilt-free eating. I normally try to be pretty good about what I eat, but for this week, it all went out the window. Yes, but the end of the week, I was starting to feel very...well...terrible. But. It was worth it. I'm serious, you guys.

I'll let the pictures do the speaking for this one.

If you're ever in Austin, drive straight from the airport to Gordoughs. They have Maple-Bacon Donuts. Someday, I'll put on a race where there are donuts and bacon at the aid stations.

Oh, Amy's Ice Cream. Do yourself a favor. Go to this place too. Absolutely delicious!

Ok, so I totally took this picture off their website, but I had the best Chicken & Waffles of my LIFE at this place called Bacon. They also put maple-glazed bacon on top. It was amazing. Funny: When my friend called to see about reservations, the guy answered the phone simply by saying, "Bacon!". Could you imagine?

4. Relish in your victory. Then, reflect on areas for improvement. Running is not the only way to get ready for an ultra.

GymPact: A Fitness App that's really motivating

I think it's important to not forget there are other sports than running. For the past year, I haven't focused on any other physical activity than running and a little bit of yoga (which is pretty sporadic). Not surprisingly, I wasn't in the best shape to run an ultra. I mentioned before that I didn't train enough, but I knew it wasn't just that. I had endurance but I didn't feel strong.

Research has pointed to weight-training as a great cross-training activity for a number of reasons. It helps build muscle, increases your metabolism and makes you feel better. All of these things positively impact your speed and how you feel while you run. Fact: Running is not the only way to get in shape for an ultra.

My goal for this next year is to focus on weight training at the gym. At least THREE times a week. How am I going to motivate myself, considering I haven't been on top of it in the past?

This little app called GymPact.  It basically ties you into a contract where you establish how many days per week you will go to the gym, and through some GPS-fueled magic, it keeps track of whether or not you keep your promise. Here's the trick: If you do, you make a little bit of money (like a buck per gym visit). Downside? If you miss a visit, you get charged a fee, you pick. One of my friends has it charge her $10 if she misses a visit. "It's really motivating," she told me. "It actually works." 

To be honest I'm a bit hesitant to do something like that, and could foresee a great dent in my bank account if I have a spell of laziness. And, what about vacation?!

"If you go on vacation," my friend told me, "You just have to plan it ahead of time into the app."

For the month of July, I'm going to try this little app and see if it works. Do it with me, and join along on twitter with the hash-tag #GymPactJuly!

5. Pick your next race. Enjoy!

My first race after my first ultra: a Boogie Nights 5K with Michelle, Rock N' Roll Themed!

At some point over the first few days following my ultra, I realized I could sign up for another one. Since there was always the over-arching possibility of a D.N.F. (Did Not Finish), I wouldn't let myself think beyond the race.

Now that it was over, I decided to start creating some race goals for the next year.

Last year I wanted to run the Red Rock Marathon, but I ended up volunteering instead. Because Luis Escobar is awesome and gives free race entry fees to his volunteers, I was able to sign up for this next year.

I also jumped on the bandwagon and signed up for next year's Born To Run Ultramarathon 50K. I think I signed up only hours after Luis opened the registration. My friends Bobby, Michelle, Meaghan, Alexis and Alexis' sister are now all signed up as well. All for the 50K. It's really exciting to have my close friends along on this journey.

I'm also hoping to run Luis' Penny Lane 50K in February. 

Then there's the Caballo Blanco Ultramarathon. 

I didn't make it out this past year due to financial difficulties. This next year I'm unsure because I have so many research conferences to go to. But it's always a possibility :) For now, it's on my race wish-list!

2012/2013 has been amazing. I can't wait for this next year in running, racing and staying healthy!

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