Tag Archives: running

Ultra Crew 101

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My husband wrote a race recap about SD50 a few weekends ago.  That is from his perspective which is very introspective.  You should read it.  His race report made me want to write a how to for those of you who are helping your runner.  Some tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the past few years as a crew member.

I want to break this down into 3 parts, before the race, during the race and after, so I’ll probably make it 3 separate posts to keep from being overwhelming.

Before the race, your runner should be doing training.  I have found it a good idea to take note of what my runner is taking to eat and drink on their long runs and try to remember what they said worked and what didn’t work.  While most people are pretty good about knowing what works for their stomach, its a good idea for the crew to know also, just in case things go down hill for your runner mentally.

If you can, try to be conscious of the time it takes for your runner to complete their long runs.  It will give you a good idea of their pace so you can gauge how soon to meet them at aid stations during the race.  I would err on the side of quicker rather than slower, especially in the beginning of the race because of race jitters and pack mentality.  It doesn’t seem to be too uncommon for people to start the race faster than ending.

Pay attention to the “other” things your runner does to prepare for a race.  Do they apply sunscreen or body lubricant?  Do they always put tape on their heel to avoid blisters?  All those things are important to know to double check before the race.  A lot of times those things start super early and pre-race nerves can make it easy to forget, so being able to double check that your runner put a bandaid on their pinky toe will go a long way to making sure its a “comfortable” race.

Things not related to your runner that are helpful.  Pack your own crew bag or make sure you are there when the bag is packed.  Nothing is more frustrating than trying to find things when your runner is trying to get in and out of the aid station quickly.  Take a look at the crew access points along the race.  Map them!  Have a good understanding of how long it will take you compared to how long it should take your runner so you know if you have to rush or if you can take your time.  For some of you, it may be helpful to study the actual course also.  Know where the big climbs are or how long between aid stations.  Your runner may find that helpful during the race, being able to get that kind of information quickly.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve had to learn being a crew member is that I’m not only responsible for my runner but for me also.  I have to manage meeting my runner, taking care of their needs and making sure they have the best race possible, but that is really hard to do if you’re hungry!  You have to make sure you have what you need also.  The two biggest ones are something to do while you’re waiting and food.  If you don’t think there will be places to stop or you won’t have time to stop, buy snacks or keep a cooler with you so you can have food.  I know the aid stations have food, but that is for the runners to get them through the race, so I never ask them for something to eat.  If the crew is having a bad race, that can directly effect the runner, I know from experience.


Stay tuned for part 2, during the race!


WOD 1/20

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2.05 miles 


5 min warm up

1 min run / 5 min walk (4 times)

5 min cool down


San Diego Trail 50

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The ultra season starts this weekend!  My husband is running the San Diego Trail 50 on Saturday in the San Diego area.  I’m happy that it is a local race for the first time in a while!

I’m becoming quite proficient crewing and look forward to this one because the race information page says most aid stations are easily accessible.  To me, that means roads to drive on and parking lots to park in. Unlike a few of last years races where I was taking my Fiat onto pitted fire roads and almost getting stuck in mud!

We (the boy and I) always have such adventures during these things and I think this one will be no different.



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Getting back into the swing of things, I’m happy with 5 days of exercise this week even though only 2 were cardio.  Next week my goal is 3 days of cardio, 2 strength days and 2 climbing days.  That shouldn’t be a problem, but we’ll see how it goes.  We’re headed to San Diego 50 on Friday for my husband’s ultra.  That will be another kind of workout on its own!  First race of the season, hopefully it isn’t that cold of a day.

What is your goal for working out?  7 days a week or do you give yourself days off?

Trying a Different Training Method

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All my attempts at becoming a runner before, I feel, haven’t really been successful.  They’ve gotten me through the race I was planning for, but I haven’t yet come to enjoy the act of running.  I know not everyone enjoys every run they go on, but I was hoping to become one of those people that generally enjoys going for run and can tough out those runs where not everything is perfect.

The first training method was following a free training plan on the internet.  No customization, just a general 10% increase weekly plan with the longest run being I think 12 miles for a half.  I got through that race, it wasn’t pretty, but I made it.  The second try was with a customized training plan where I filled out a huge questionnaire and a trainer made a plan based on my fitness level and my schedule.  That plan also did get me through a half marathon, but it didn’t help foster my love or acceptance of running.

After a four month break and a scary dentist appointment, I’ve decided to give it a try again, but using a different method.  I’m going to try heart rate training.  I started this week using Maffatone’s HR range.  The range for me to stay in is 145-155.  I have completed a couple workouts staying within that range and it wasn’t pretty.  I’ve taken walks mid day, where it is still near 90 degrees and to keep my heart rate in the specified range, I’ve been at an 18 minute pace.  So, next week, I’m going to try going for a walk in the morning when its cooler to see if that makes a difference.  I’m hoping it does, but I don’t really know.

My goal is to get my pace to around 12 minutes while staying in that heart rate zone.  I have no idea if that is feasible, but that is my initial goal.  Once I get there, I’d like to start working toward a 10 min goal so that I can run a 30 min 5k.  Based on what I did this week, I know it will take a while and have to have the patience to make it happen!


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I have a confession… My husband is an ultra-runner.

That being said, race season is about to be in full swing and as his wife, I’m proud to be lead crew member for his ultras. Can I put that on my resume? Anyway, with race season quickly approaching, I thought I’d share a few projects, some tips and lessons learned from our ultra-experiences.

First- the bandana.  We went to Angeles Crest 100 last year to work an aid station and kept seeing all these people wearing bandanas full of ice.  My first ultra-project is to make one of those before PCT50 (in two weeks).  I’m certain it will be fairly easy, but I’ll take pictures along the way in case you want to make one too.

Next will be our reconfigured crew bag.  I think we have a bit before that will become a big issue because PCT has minimal crew access, but in the long run, I need to figure out a fast system to have everything quickly accessible and portable.  We have Telluride and Kodiak coming up where I think having a well-organized bag will be essential.

Also, creating kind of a cheat sheet on crewing for my husband, his family is planning to attend his last two big races and I’m sure they will have lots of questions and also I want to make sure they understand how to interact with him at aid stations.

Lastly, the ongoing project of creating our Bib Book, I’m trying to find a way to scrapbook our bibs (all 3 of ours).  I’ve tried several different size scrapbooks but haven’t really found a system I like.  I’m currently trying to use a photo album/ scrapbook hybrid (project life) method, and I think it will work if I can just sit down and take time to find/print pictures from our races.

Ideas that are in my head but may not translate to actual projects: pace bracelet, medal hanger, head bands, and race t-shirt refashions.

Stay tuned!

Training Changes

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This week, I focused on making sure I had 4 runs for the week. I had noticed that I’d been letting myself slack a little bit and only having 3 runs, not good.

I made it happen.

Heart rate training made my volume a little bit less even with the extra day.. Hmm…

In other news, I’ve signed up for an individualized training plan from McMillan Running. I am using them for a 12 week plan that will get me to the SoCal Wine Country Half Marathon in June. The Big Bear Half is out the window, it may be used as a supported training run, but the half focus will be in June followed by the Long Beach Marathon in October.

I’ve never had a personalized plan before (minus the 6 weeks my husband attempted to coach me) so I’m excited to give it a try and see if that will help me make the transition to being a runner. My husband thinks I should try a coach, but I wanted to see how following a training plan went before making that commitment.

Running coach, yay or nay?