As I write this article I should be feeling the effects of the near marathon distance I ran yesterday, 40.2 km to be precise! However after I am finished writing this I will start packing my bag for a 80 km run (or 90km if I’m feeling up to it) that I will be running tomorrow, and these are only training runs!
At age 25 I am in a small group of the younger Ultramarathon runners, I was 21 when I ran my first, the 100 km New Zealand nationals. Before running my first ultra I was running marathons and half marathons since I was a teenager back in high school. I decided to really challenge myself two years ago when I ran over 2,200 km of the length of New Zealand.
The New Zealand run was a massive accomplishment. However, I had to push myself like never before by dealing with injuries such as severe shin splints and a torn musclein my right thigh. Last June I decided to challenge myself once again by running 1000 km from Brisbane to Sydney. To compare it with the New Zealand run or even the first 1000 km of the NZ run I would have to say it was a lot easier and a whole lot more enjoyable. I noticed throughout my Brisbane to Sydney run my stamina was always up and my recovery was through the roof. I didn’t have to deal with any major injuries, blisters or any lost toenails. On the second to last day of my run I had a friend from my shoe sponsor Hoka OneOne run with me. He pushed me by running fast up all the hills and flying down the declines. I managed to keep up without any fatigue whatsoever.
So what has changed since 2010 up until now that has helped me recover so quickly and have increased stamina? There are two major changes in my running and my life that I can only put it down to. The first is my diet – I’m now a vegetarian and the second is my running gear. I have completely changed what I wear and use for all of my runs. I used to believe all that I needed was running shorts, a singlet and some fancy shoes that the local shoe shop told me I needed. At the beginning of this year I started to experiment with different running gear, I changed everything from my shoes right down to my underwear and socks and of course I also decided to try Zensah compression gear. I had tried compression clothing in the past and have never been impressed with any of it so of course I was going to be skeptical with trying another. It wasn’t until after my first week of training with Zensah that I knew this was something special. Usually I would hold back on a 30 or 40 km training run at the risk of having a longer recovery time but started to realize I couldn’t feel the pain or fatigue in my muscles at certain points in my runs when I would usually feel it. Run after run I would speed up and get better times each and every time. Even when I run with my running pack that holds 2-3 litres of water along with food I would have sore shoulder muscles, now I just chuck on my Zensah top and know I will be feeling fine right up until the end. My combo of Hoka OneOne shoes and Zensah leg sleeves has given me the confidence to run down a steep concrete path or road without even thinking about shin splints!
With these massive improvements in my performance, recovery and stamina I have decided to take running a bit more seriously. Next year will be a busy year for me as I compete in many different Ultramarathons around Australia and New Zealand as well as trying to get PB’s in the half and full marathon. This year of running has given me back my love of long distance running. There was a point last year where I wasn’t sure where this was all going; now the only direction is forward, and fast!