Krissy Moehl is best known for several significant ultramarathon wins, including the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in 2003 and 2009, the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run in 2004, and the Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji in 2013. In the past 15 years, Krissy has completed over 100 ultra races and to me- someone who has only considered attempting the ultra distance- that’s downright amazing! I was very excited to read Krissy’s new book, Running Your First Ultra to see if an ultra could truly be a part of my 2016 running goals.
As Krissy writes in her introduction, “Your first ultra has the potential to impact, change, mold, and direct your life from this point forward… This is an exciting and challenging endeavor and one I hope to provide an obtainable, less daunting path to by sharing my experiences, both good and bad, to help you thrive in your first ultra.”
Krissy begins with a quiz of sorts, asking the reader to consider where you are currently in your running routine to determine if training for an ultra would fit into your lifestyle given the number of days you run, average mileage, the amount of time you have to train, the type of terrain you have access to, and your life dynamics. Considering my As to Krissy’s Qs and the easy-to-follow training plans therein, I realized that I can easily fit training for a 50K into my life! If I follow Krissy’s advice, I CAN do this! Running Your First Ultra effectively removed my fear and doubt of the ultra distance.
Krissy points out that the first step in preparing for an ultra includes a thorough understanding of your goals. As a seasoned runner, setting training and race goals is easy but as a newbie to the ultra distance, goal setting requires a lot more thought and consideration; but, Krissy lays everything out in a very conversational, easy-to-grasp, and straightforward way. Distance, location, course profile, personal race history, and your monetary budget are all issues that I have never really considered with road running but now realize all that can certainly make or break my ultra goal.
Once you’ve considered your goals and picked a training plan, Krissy delves into a topic that is of much interest to me: injury management and prevention. When I read the book, I wasn’t injured but now that I am injured again (yes, again- more on that topic soon!), I am certainly taking Krissy’s expert words of advice to heart. With rest and treatment, I know I will return to healthy running soon and when I do, I will make sure to do everything in my power to prevent another forced time off. Krissy stresses that prevention is key- be it road or trails, you must maintain a strong core, adopt proper recovery habits (via nutrition, stretching, rolling) , and embrace planned rest days.
In addition to training plans for each ultra distance (50K, 50 mile/100K, and 100 mile), Krissy also provides a ton of brand recommendations and suggestions for ultra running fuel and gear (there’s even a chapter on women’s-specific gear too!) including shoes, clothing, hydration systems, packable snacks, lights, headwear, etc. plus extensive race day gear checklists at the back of the book, making it even easier for a newbie to personalize the plan and be totally prepared, head to toe, for running that first ultra.
Throughout the book, Krissy includes anecdotes of her own struggles and triumphs which underly another notion she shares repeatedly: listen to your body and adapt as needed, “There will be moments when you think forward progress is impossible. You have to dig deep and tune in to know when to push and when to pass. Only you can go through the challenge and come out the other side. And it is the only when you are on the other side that you gain even more insight to who you are and the perspective of what you are now capable. What was once viewed impossible becomes possible.”
As an accomplished elite ultrarunner, Krissy is still able to tap into the spirit of running as a novice- her love of running and broad knowledge of healthy living through injury prevention and nutrition makes this book a great addition to any runner’s library. Thanks to Krissy’s authentic, straightforward and comprehensive approach, the ultra distance is no longer daunting; and, as a result of her words of wisdom, mindful planning, and motivational stories, I am finally ready to face my first ultra challenge. Running Your First Ultra isn’t just a simple how-to book, it is a how-to do it well portable coach.
So if you, like me, are interested in learning more about ultrarunning and/or considering your first attempt at any ultra distance, I encourage you to pick up Krissy’s book, Running Your First Ultra. And if you live here in the Bay Area, Krissy will be at the San Francisco Running Company today (Thursday 1/14, 6-8pm) and Saturday (1/16, 8-10am)- she will lead a group run then present her “Tips and Tricks” of training for and racing ultra marathons and I am sure she will have some time for selfies-with-fans too! For more information on these SF events, please check out the Facebook event page here, the rest of Krissy’s book tour schedule may be found here.
Have you read Krissy’s book? If so, what was the most important thing you learned about how to prepare and train for an ultra distance? If not, have you ever considered tackling an ultra? If you’ve already accomplished a 50K, 50 mile, 100K or 100 mile race can you tell me what lessons you learned? What advice would you give a ultra newbie like me?