PPP 012: Ultra Marathon Training Secrets with Dr. Tyler Kuntz
Welcome to The Peak Performance Podcast
I’m your host Dr. Marc Dupuis on this show we discuss tips, tools and strategies for optimizing athletic performance, overall health & wellness!
Today I’m Excited to bring you our featured guest”
Dr. Tyler Kuntz is the newest member of our team here at Back to Health Chiropractic.
He grew up in the small town of Mildmay in rural southern Ontario. He completed his ungraduated studies at the University of Guelph in June of 2014. While there he received his bachelor’s degree in Human Kinetics as well as a minor in Nutrition and Nutraceutical Sciences. From a young age Dr. Kuntz was very active in a variety of sports including hockey, softball, cross-country running and rugby. While playing many different sports Dr. Kuntz frequently relied on chiropractic care to overcome the injuries he sustained. It was also during this time that Dr. Kuntz realized the many benefits associated with chiropractic care in achieving optimal function, ultimately helping him perform at the highest level. This led Dr. Kuntz to pursue a career in chiropractic.
In February of 2018 Dr. Kuntz graduated Magna Cum Laude from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. While studying at Palmer Dr. Kuntz was a Clinical Radiology Intern and a Chiropractic Rehabilitation and Sports Injury Intern.
After completing two marathons, a 50K race and several unsupported ultra-distance runs, Tyler has shifted his athletic focus on ultra-marathon racing
In this discussion we cover a wide range of topics related to ultra marathon training, racing and recovery. I hope you enjoy this conversation, without any further ado, Here is my conversation with Dr. Tyler Kuntz.
What is an ultramarathon?
In the most general term an ultramarathon is a run or race that covers more than the 26.2-mile distance associated with a marathon. From an organized race standpoint, the most common distances are 50 km (31 miles), 50 miles, and 100 miles with a wide variety of special distance and races found in between and even races stretching well beyond the 100-mile distance. There are also timed events that are becoming more popular 6, 12, 24 hours and further.
Who can run an ultramarathon?
At lot of times I hear people say things like “I could never run that far” or “I’m just not made for running” or “I couldn’t find the time to train for anything like that” but, I have no doubt in my mind that any healthy person with a strong will and determination can train to run an ultramarathon. Going to the finish line of an ultramarathon sure you will see the lean, long legged runners crossing the finishing line but towards the middle of the pack you see people of all ages, shapes and sizes. This is not just a sport dominated in terms of numbers by the super fit athletes.
How do you train for an ultramarathon?
This is where most people feel they won’t have the time to train for an ultramarathon, but you can easily train for an ultramarathon only running four days a week. As a rule of thumb, I like to build my plans in a stepwise fashion. What that looks like is two weeks where I would increase my mileage from the previous week by about 10% following by a cycle down week where the mileage is dropped by about 10-15%. You can repeat this strategy up until two weeks before the race where you will begin to taper to prepare for the race.
Long runs and back to back long runs on weekends – Getting in one long run a week is key and an absolute must. If there is one day not to miss during your weekly training this must be it. These runs should be done at a pace that is slower than your race pace. These runs are important to train the body to be moving forward for extended periods of time. The point of the back to back long runs is that you will train your body to run on tired and sore legs. Gaining the mental ability to do this huge come race day when you are at distances you’ve never ran before. These runs are also important in developing a nutrition and hydration plan that you will use on race day.
Try to get one running-type workout per week – Some different types of workouts that I enjoy and mix into my training plans are tempo runs, fartlek runs, intervals and hill repeats. You will never be running this fast or hard in your race, but this is a great way to build strength, increase your lactate threshold and improve VO2 max. All of these will allow you to run harder for longer come race day.
Splitting mileage during the week into two runs.
Cross training – This is a great way to build strength by lifting weights which can improve your running economy. Other endurance sports cross training is also a great way to give your running muscles a day off while also building cardiovascular endurance.
Nutrition and hydration is one of the most important and often neglected aspect of ultramarathons. Failing to create a nutrition plan that works for you is a recipe for disaster. Anyone who has ever bonked or hit the wall in a race knows how miserable this is. Eating and drinking throughout the course of the race is important in preventing this from happening. There are all kinds of gels, chews, sports drinks out there. There is no one plan for every person, this is something that is trial and error and greatly depends on your metabolism, ability to digest different types of food while exercising, how much you sweat. Getting calories in towards the end of the race even when you don’t feel like eating is super important as well. Setting a timer on a watch for every 20 minutes or so to remind yourself to take a sip of water or sports drink and grab a little something to eat can really help. I try to consume around 300-400 calories per hour when doing long runs and races, but this varies based on temperature, effort level. GI issues in ultra-running are huge, it is not uncommon to see participants throwing up along a race course, so by dialing in your nutrition prior to race day can prevent this from happening.
Rest days are critical to letting the body heal, repair and rebuild.
How hard is ultra-running on your body?
Most of the 50km races will not be as hard on your body as a traditional 26.2-mile road race that will batter your body on tarmac for the entirety of the race. A lot of ultramarathon races on run on trails allowing for a softer surface for running while also letting the body use different muscle groups over the varying terrain. The key to running these long-distance races is to slow yourself down, walk the up hills.
How do you fit running around your daily life and events?
One of my biggest tips that I can offer to train for these races is to be flexible. Start with a plan that you think you have reasonable shot at being able to stick to. Print this out, get an app on your phone or whatever works best for you to have this somewhere you can look at it every day and see what you need to do for the day. Now where the flexibility comes in is that we all have things come up from day to day that maybe don’t allow our training to go as planned but knowing these setbacks will happen and knowing it won’t ruin our entire training plan can go a long way. Don’t feel up to running as far as your plan calls one day? Run a little less. Feeling great one day, do a little more. Having flexibility in your training is key to a successful training block before a race.
Another big one training tool to use is to try and run in the mornings if possible. Having your gear laid out and ready go at a time of day when nothing is going on goes a long way. Getting home at the end of the day its so easy to just see the couch and want to kick back and relax.
For me on days when I don’t feel like running there is saying I always say to myself “Just get out there and run for 10 minutes and if you feel like stopping then you can stop, but just get out there for 10 minutes” I’ll tell you what I don’t know if there has been one time where after 10 minutes I have actually taken that out and turned around for home. There’s something about getting the blood flowing that wants you to keep going.
What about mental toughness?
Bar none being mentally tough is essential for successful ultra-running. There will be moments in training and races that you want to pack it in a give up. The pain will be unforgiving at times and see unbearable. In my opinion running races of these distance is over 90% mental. Going into the “pain cave”, is the lowest of lows but each time you push through that and come out on the other side give you such a sense of accomplishment. Experiencing these tough spots in and ultramarathon happens frequently. There will be highs and lows throughout the race but knowing that and being able to ride them out. When things are feeling good and you have that rush of endorphins slow down and make it last, enjoy it for as long as its there because you know that you’re going to be on the other end of it sooner. A couple phrases I like to repeat to myself over and over when I’m running are: “you’re stronger than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can” and an ultra-running favorite “it’s going to get worse before it gets better”.
What draws you to ultrarunning?
I think it’s a combination of things. I really enjoy races that ae on trails and I think that comes back to our innate desire to connect with nature. Being outdoors is something I love and being able to cover a lot of ground on your own two feet and take in so many views and stuff is a very primal feeling. I love pushing my body’s limit to find out what it is capable of. As human’s our cardiovascular endurance is something that is truly remarkable and pushing that limit and finding out what I can do is very rewarding.
Do your feet get blisters?
They will but getting a good pair of socks and shoes can really help prevent blisters from happening. I like to buy my shoes from local running stores that take the time to analyze your gait and make recommendations based on your running style and training. Also, having different pairs of shoes that you switch between is something that I think is very important. Your toenails will die and fall off. Looking at an ultrarunner’s feet is like something out of a horror movie a lot of the time. My toenails are constantly in varying shades of black, blue and purple.
Hydration Pack: Nathan Vapor Air
Manchester 2 Monadnock Ultra
This concludes today’s episode of The Peak Performance Podcast, where we discuss tips, tools and strategies for optimizing athletic performance, overall health & wellness! Please SUBSCRIBE to this podcast so that you never miss future episodes, also PLEASE SHARE this podcast with ANYONE you feel may benefit from what we covered today.
Finally, Thank you very much listening and until next time, have a Fantastic Day!
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