©Endurance Sportswire

©Endurance Sportswire

As runners, we are constantly setting new goals, whether it is signing up for a race or just moving our feet a bit more each day. Regardless if you’re a newbie or a 100-mile race finisher, there is always a new goal in sight. Maybe it is simply to start running, beat your last marathon time or best your brother’s or coworkers’ mile record. Now comes the work to make sure you achieve your goal. Gear Patrol tapped nine ultra-runners professionals to learn their secrets for setting big goals, and achieving them.

Gear Patrol chatted with The North Face Runners Dylan Bowman, Rob Krar, Hillary Allen and Rory Bosio as well as HOKA ONE ONE athlete Magdalena Boulet, Altra runners Ian Sharman and Charli McKee and Salomon athlete, Cat Bradley. These folks voluntarily run hundreds of miles, pretty much any distance over a marathon or 26.2 miles, just like me, but just that little bit faster.

Schedule time to run

It might sound silly, but practically every athlete recommended setting time aside in your schedule. “The less I have to decide, the easier it is to get out. Leaving mental energy for the more demanding decisions or tasks of the day,” Bradley says. “I stick to a similar run plan week to week and month to month, so I do not have to even think about getting out the door, I just do it.” Sharman, the Leadville 100 Trail Champion in 2017, agrees “After a couple of weeks, the routine will become the norm and will be much more self-reinforcing.”

Even when you are traveling, carve out some time for yourself to run

“For me that involves morning runs/ activity to get me out the door and to kickstart my day. When I travel and do not know where I am going, it can seem overwhelming, but if I’m committed to [it], I can have a general plan to explore and it usually works out in the end,” Hillary Allen says.

Sign up for a race

“Find an event to sign up for that is just a little bit outside of your comfort zone,” Magdalena Boulet, Olympian and Director of Research and Product Development at GU, says. “It will help motivate you to get out and train if you have paid your entry fee and declared to your friends and family that you will do this event.” Cat Bradley agrees, “it makes it a lot easier to stick with it when everything starts to fall apart when you are in love with the project, race or goal.”

Consider hiring a coach

While a few of these athletes are paid to run (and do it full time), many juggle full-time jobs with their passion for running. One commonality is the insight a coach can provide. “Not only does it take a lot of the strategic guesswork off my plate, but it also gives me another person to be accountable to,” Dylan Bowman says. A coach can give you an added layer of support and take some anxiety off your plate when training — especially if you’re a newbie. “I have a coach that designs my weekly training schedule and it helps keep the stress of planning under control. Having a second set of eyes and ears on my run training has greatly improved my running,” says Charlie McKee, who was the women’s winner at the Javelina 100 this year.

If a coach is out of the question, look for support in running groups.

Coaches can be expensive, and that might be out of the question for you. There are other options to hold yourself accountable. When Boulet does not feel like running, she reaches out to her network. “I have an extra cup of coffee and call a friend to schedule a running date. Making a commitment to meet someone always works for me,” she says.

Mental toughness looks different for everyone

Mental toughness is something that these athletes have in spades. But if you do not feel you have it, do not worry. “Toughness is not something you are born with, it is a skill you can gain with practice,” Boulet says. “Practice being tough in regular training or it won’t be there on race day,” Ian Sharman says.

No matter what your training day looks like, remember to listen to your body

Sometimes you will jump up out of bed and hit the road. Other days, you might feel lazy and not want to go. Do it for your mental health, or bargain with yourself. “I remind myself how much better I feel after running than I did before,” Boulet says. Yet, remember to take rest days, too. “A common mistake for newer ultra and trail runners is not that they are not training hard enough, it is that they are not training smart enough and respecting rest and recovery,” says Rob Krar, winner of the 2018 Leadville Trail 100 race. “Remember that a single run or single race does not define you. There will be bumps along the way and they’re to be expected. Most importantly, run with a purpose. Show up and do your best.”

A little mental preparation goes a long way

Everyone needs a little help to get through a long distance race. The monotony of one foot in front of the other can use a spike. “I’ve used mediation apps like Headspace and Calm,” says Dylan Bowman, an athlete for The North Face and Red Bull. “These apps cultivate mental and emotional poise, so when adversity inevitably arises, I’m less likely to be overwhelmed by it.” Running is a journey (literally), so “do not aim for the stars, aim for the trees,” Rory Bosio says. “Make resolutions that are reasonably attainable. Do not beat yourself up if you don’t stick with it 100 percent. Tomorrow is always another day!”