Run Oregon invited Marc Larson to share his thoughts on the book Training Essentials for Ultrarunning by Jason Koop. Larson has run a few 50ks and is training for his first 50-miler (ORRC’s Autumn Leaves 50 Miler), and is at a place in his running where he can appreciate how slight changes in his training, nutrition, and mental preparedness can make an ultra more enjoyable. This book, available in paperback from VeloPress, covers these topics such as the top four mistakes made by ultra runners, whether to run or power-hike up hills, and how to train your support crew.
by Marc Larson
I have been running for over 30 years and have run many types of races during that time, from 5k fun runs all the way up to my introduction in the ultra distance of 50k. As I get older and not sometimes wiser, the longer distances do not seem that far out of reach. For now I mostly enjoy running half marathons and 50k trail runs.
Being out on the trail I enjoy keeping my mind active watching out for the many changes in the terrain and being able to enjoy the beauty of nature itself. This fall I have signed up for my first 50 mile run so reading Training Essentials for Ultrarunning helped reinforce many of the lessons I have learned during my time running ultras.
This book was very comprehensive in many ways. It covers many of the subjects needed to get an individual through an ultra distance race from 50ks up to 100 miles. The author, Jason Koop, is a coach for many top ultra endurance athletes, so he has a unique perspective and offers a look at all subjects that will be needed to accomplish any endurance activity. Having already run multiple ultra trail races, I enjoyed the subject matter and the way it was presented. Various topics were presented in a way that anyone could understand from the scientific and technical aspects that every ultra runner will encounter as they attempt any long distance run.
Looking over the book for the first time and glancing through it before I sat down and read it completely, I was looking at it as an introduction to ultra running. This book is not the type of book I would recommend as a step-by-step guide for the person that is starting out. I have completed my share of ultras and have served as a crew member for other runners. I learned, as many other ultra runners have done: by asking questions of the racers themselves. As you will learn (or may already know), trail runners are a very friendly group and are happy to share their experiences with anyone else. This book reinforced what I learned from my first-hand experience. It gave me the scientific knowledge of how to approach races in the future and how to tackle the obstacles that each ultra runner may eventually run into during the race.
As I am increasing my distance during my running career, I feel that this book helped me prepare for a better run by giving me the knowledge base needed for the problems I will encounter, and taught me how to overcome them and improve not only myself as a runner but as an individual taking on a greater challenge. There are many good stories from world-famous athletes scattered throughout the book to give advice as you attempt your challenge. The writing kept me engaged throughout, and I learned a lot of new ideas and reinforced those that I have already learned through running distance races.
For those so inclined to take on such a challenge, this book would be a good resource for those with at least some experience such as crewing a runner or volunteering at an ultra. Reading about the strategies that this book provides will give any athlete the knowledge to complete an ultra distance, along with giving you the confidence needed to overcome the many hurdles you will undoubtedly encounter as you expand your running potential.
Training Essentials for Ultrarunning: How to Train Smarter, Race Faster, and Maximize Your Ultramarathon Performance by Jason Koop with Jim Rutberg is available for $21.95 at VeloPress.com.