31 Running Hacks for Your Next Ultramarathon

Just like life hacks can make your day more efficient, these running tips and tricks are tried and true to make the miles flow a bit easier and keep you positive when the grind gets real.

  1. Cut a toothbrush in half. Put in on your vest.
    This will allow you to reset your palate after a day of eating sugary things, and can keep food tasting more appetizing as the day turns in to night.
  2. Carry a small bag of table salt.
    If you feel like you are bonking, lack of salt is a pretty common cause. Dip a pretzel in there… or just your finger if you can take the germs… to rescue yourself from the bonk.

  3. Cut a pencil into a 1.5 inch section and spool a foot of duct tape around it.
    Duct tape can come in handy for unexpected blisters between aid stations, rips on your shoes, and chafe on your neck or chest.

  4. Put elastic laces on all the shoes you plan to wear. 
    Easy on. Easy off. Those little minutes add up.

  5. If weather will be raining or humid, consider packing your aid station socks inside out so that you can roll them on vs trying to slide them on over wet skin.

  6. Set alarms on your phone or watch for 30 minute intervals through the night. 
    This can help break up the night for you and take you out of zombieland, or, remind you to eat/drink.

  7. Walk/run at set intervals to manage pacing. 

  8. Carry extra water with you to dump over your head, shoulders, and down your shorts. This

    will help you stay cool and wash off salt that can cause chafing. This is especially a good one for hot races or desert races.

  9. Put vaseline in your nostrils before any arid race. Its one of those comfort things, but can also prevent nose bleeds if you arent used to a dry environment.

  10. Chap stick on your lips before the race! We’ve all sat in the office on monday and peeled off cracked skin from our lips…

  11. Have a pump up playlist on backup.
    When things get low, or when the finish line is coming up and you need that last kick to go sub-24, crank up the volume.

  12. Safety pins can pin to any clothing to carry extra calories. Bonus pockets for whenever!
    Pin a gel, waffle, whatever to yourself. This keeps it more front-of-mind than being in back of your pack too!

  13. Carry a plastic bag
    They are good for keeping extra layers dry for rainy races, or for switching to ice-dump mode. See #17

  14. Cold race? Blow into your bottle’s bite valve after drinking to prevent a freeze up.

  15. Carry mashed potatoes in a zip lock bag.
    Have your crew load it up before you arrive to an aid station. Slurp it like a gel. Stash it away for later. This also works with reuseable baby food pouches.

  16. Screw shoes. Seriously. Put some drywall screws into the bottom of your old shoes for those slicker-than-normal winter days. At two bucks a pop, it is a fraction of the cost of those brand name solutions.

  17. Put ice in the back pocket or front bottle pockets of your vest to keep you cool. Keeping your spine cool keeps your nervous system cool. That means less energy is used by your brain and can be focused on keeping you moving and digesting.

  18. Fill your bottles half way, freeze at a 45 angle, and fill up when ready. This will help ice melt evenly as you sip instead of having a giant block of ice half way through.

  19. Cut up tube socks to wear as arm sleeves on a chilly race morning. Trash them at an aid
    station.

  20. Super cold race? Wear those little $1 gloves under your good waterproof ones. As you sweat, you can toss the cheap gloves, put on another pair, and still have dry good gloves on top.

  21. Rotate different makes of shoes in training. This can help make sure you are democratizing your movement and using different muscles in your feet, possibly preventing injury.

  22. Do active stretches when your muscles start to get sore. This can be as simple as a few buttkicks, high knees, karaoke runs, or even running backwards for just a moment. Mixing up movement can help make sure all muscle groups stay “awake” and keep doing what they are supposed to be doing, and encourages blood flow, which can keep you from getting sore.

  23. Learn how to use poles.
    Poles can be like a second pair of legs if you know how to use them.

  24. Eat and run.
    Sitting down at an aid station to eat can make the time fly by, in a bad way. Use the uphills to eat, since you’ll probably be moving a bit slower and breathing easier.

  25. Use clear zip lock bags (the huge ones) at your aid stations. It is easier to see all of your gear with a clear bag and demands less of your tired brain in the later miles.

  26. Write yourself a note with what is inside your aid station bags and why. Tape it against the bag, facing outward. Highlight the critical things.

  27. Pack your headlamp away either on battery lock, or with the power compartment slightly unscrewed. This will prevent it from accidentally being turned on, and you arriving to a dead headlamp.

  28. Have a small headlamp to wrap around your waist, just to point at your feet.

  29. Smile at yourself and at other runners. This forces your body to release endorphins and acts as a natural pain reliever/mood booster.

  30. Band-aid over your nipples. Yup. We said it. Chafing there sucks.

  31. Envision raising your arms, like a victory pose, when you reach the top of long climbs. Then do it. This can help release endorphins as you physically acknowledge your achievement, and gives you a “brain map” to keep repeating that achievement again and again.

What are some of your own ultramarathon tips and tricks? Leave a comment below!

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