Source of da Nile (denial)

I am lucky enough to be traveling for work in Africa. I have gone for a couple runs so far in the city of Jinja, Uganda. It is amazing here to be at such an iconic, historic place.

Yesterday, I picked the right road to run on apparently since there were about 10 other African runners when I was running just after sunrise. I was definitely a spectacle with my white skin that nearly shines in the dark streets that have no lights. But the other runners had friendly waves.

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The rain makes for some very messy and muddy roads. And the red dirty makes a mess of your clothes. I think my shoes are permanently stained red.

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The Nile River is very wide at the start with a dam immediately downstream from where we were. This view was from the hotel where we were staying.

I didn’t see any alligators or hippos but I know they were there. I wouldn’t want to have to outrun a hippo. I hear they are deadly. Alligators too.

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Backroads near Jinja

I love exploring by running wherever I happen to be traveling. You sure get to see a lot.

How do you train for 87k? he asked incredulously

“87 km race? That’s more than 50 miles? How did you train for 87 km?”

“By running a lot”

No kidding you must run a lot

Actually my training was quite similar to marathon training, just longer

Longer? You’re crazy!

Yeah I hear that a lot

How long were your long training runs?

I ran 50km one Saturday, and 42 km on the Saturdays each side of that. Those runs were about a month out from the race.

I hear some runners run over 100 miles (160km) per week.

I don’t go that far but normal weeks for two months straight were over 100km per week.

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It's a long road to an ultra

How do you fit in the other 50 to 60 km per week?

I aimed to put in 50 km per weekend over two days usually. This year I opted to run to and from work several times per week depending if I was running in the evening with anyone else. I am lucky that my work is about 10 km from home so that would make a 20 km day. So three days of a running commute would give me enough kms.

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These were my friends during long lonely training runs that I had to do by myself

Did you ever give yourself any days off?

I always took Fridays off and often Mondays too, so my Tuesday through Thursday was quite tiring.

I hear you should be doing speed work or hill repeats once per week.

I hardly did speed work. I had run a marathon in early May and I had done speed work for that. But once that was over, for the next three months, I didn’t put myself through that. Maybe I should have but my plan was exhausting enough.

And hill repeats?

I definitely got my hills in. This race was a mountain race with an insane amount of vertical so I knew how important that was. So all my long runs had a similar amount of vertical per km as the race, about 100m per 2km. And I took the hilly route to work. A couple times I found some mountains to climb (and to come down). That hill training was absolutely necessary and I am very glad I put myself through it.

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If that's the size of your hill your going to have to do a whole lot of hill repeats

Did you try to fit in any cross training?

I had hoped to bike to work on my off days but I realized that I didn’t have it in me, especially mentally. I needed a break. I did some core strengthening exercises a few times per week until about a month before the race when I suddenly just lost motivation to do core. But I am sure glad I got it in as long as I did. My back and hamstrings would have been much worse off otherwise.

So is there anyone else out there to train with for these crazy distances?

For sure. You just have to know where to look. Many of the trail running groups draw people who love ultras. But the problem with trail running groups is that people are quickly inspired to sign up for more races which inevitably are longer or harder. So while it is good to meet these people for encouragement and inspiration be prepared that you won’t be able to quit after one ultra. It can be addicting.

So what would you say if I said I wanted to run an ultra?

You’re crazy! But go for it!

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