We were grateful to have had Troy Richard Ellis discuss with us how his Ultramarathon experience went. He was kind enough to do a mini-interview with us and get into detail about how he felt throughout his journey! Keep reading as Troy explains the biggest challenges he faced, how our Bulletproof Runner program helped him, his dietary strategy and more!
1) What was the biggest challenge in your prep and then the actual run itself?
The most challenging aspect to the preparation was the actual planning of my training. I signed up with only 11 weeks until the race, while the go-to plans online are all more than double that amount of time. I had to develop my own approach to training, which meant not putting on too many miles in too short of time and risk hurting myself in the process. I incorporated some extra long runs, longer than I've done in my life, but always allowed recovery. It was the mental training of doing those long runs that I truly needed. Next time, I'll be putting in a more substantial amount of training compared to this time, but consistently running, doing Pilates, and lifting at the gym, are all ongoing activities for me that keep me in shape for such challenges like an Ultramarathon.
The race itself was challenging for a few reasons. The weather had been at the forefront of my mind all week before the race. It was raining, the trails were giants pools, puddles, and collections of mud where sometimes you couldn't even see how deep your foot was going. Honestly, even if this was objectively the biggest challenge of the race, the conditions left my mind within the first two miles. I embraced the weather, despite the fact that it was slowing down everyone and everyone's time as a result. Being behind people and not being able to make safe and efficient passes within the first eight mile loop was also challenging, but more-so frustrating.
2) How did the Bulletproof runner program help you? Or what did you learn that helped you in this 50k?
My Bulletproof runner training from Victoria and her coaching over the years not only helped me for this particular race, but for a long time now. She enlightened me to my "overstriding" and "braking" during my run years ago. The Bulletproof Runner course workshop helped change my run form and encouraged me to increase my run cadence (which then corrected my overstride and braking forces). My form the last few years now has been revolutionized and I feel so much better as a runner, performing at my highest level yet. Going up and down hills on trail becomes more controlled and efficient when implementing these techniques she teaches. Victoria's general advice on running has given me perspective on how to give myself a well-rounded training rather than just pounding away at the miles. Specifically, focusing on single leg work is what I'm continuously working on. When I'm not signed up for a race, I don't overextend myself in miles and number of days I run per week, that's me adhering to comments Victoria has made before about training "smart" as opposed to "hard". Running is hard enough on the body as it is so she taught me to keep my workout load at levels I could recover from.
3) Did anything surprise you during the run? Mentally or physically?
What surprised me during the race was how much I enjoyed it through and through! The course was amazing and incredibly beautiful. I am very proud of myself, but I thought the conditions and the length of the race were going to pain me more mentally, but I was wrong. I loved that race and can't wait for the next one. It also surprised me how focused I was. I understand trails usually require attention, but I never even put music in for the first 14 miles because I was so focused on putting one foot in front of the other. All of my "almost" falls and ankle twists were truly "almost" because I was so focused and reactive that nothing would ever pose a threat. That was something beautiful.
The guy in his 70's wearing sandals, like I'm talking flat Roman sandals, definitely surprised me. The Crown Royal at some of the final aid stations also took my by surprise.
4) What was your eating/drinking strategy?
My friend Cody Reed, one of my best friends from high school, is an Ultra-marathoner. A fast one. Out of support, I try to wear his sponsored brand (Under Armor) and use sponsored gear and products that he uses. I use Spring Energy (another sponsor of his) gels for fuel and their electrolyte mixer for my liquid fuel. I obviously hydrated fully leading up to the race, during the race itself though I only drank electrolytes. I bypassed half the aid stations, but the one's I stopped at were great for snacking. At the mile 21 aid station I probably ate two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a gel, a potato and some salt, a half an orange, a cookie, and drank a red bull.
5) Any other advice you’d give to people wanting to go the distance?
Going that distance requires the desire to run that far, dedication to train, and determination to see it through. I had the desire, I've had the desire for a while. I'll admit my dedication during the training was spotty at times when I was swamped with work, there is room for improvement there. My determination to see it through was strong, and I am happy to have completed and succeeded. My goal was to just finish the race, but I also told myself that coming in under 6 hours would be nice. I came in right at 6 hours. Next time, I know I can have a faster goal, and will try to make the training more seamless and in advance than I did this time. Never overextend though, injury is not worth it. If I have the hypothetical choice between running 5 days in a week with no supplemental training versus 3 days in a week and throw in 2 pilates classes, I'll go for the 3 and 2 every time. Find your balance and then push yourself slightly as time goes on.