Seasoned Ultrarunners Offer Tips to Prepare for Western States 100

After a marathon comes the thought of conquering your first ultramarathon – perhaps a 50k and then the thought “there’s no finishing line.” Ultramarathons seemed to be the goal to many if not a few of those runners who used to think that a mile was impossible to reach. Race vetaran, Anita Ortiz, 47 and Jonathan Gunderson, 33 shares their insights and few tips on how to train and succeed. This is for you runners, future ultrarunners and all ultrarunners I know.

Former Champion and Finisher Stress Preparedness and Injinji® Performance Toesocks™

SAN DIEGO, CA (May 24, 2011) – Long-distance runners in search of the ultimate ultra challenge need look no further than The Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mile trail event heralded as one of the oldest – and most challenging. Held in June, this no-holds-barred competition tests the limits of physical and mental strength, taking racers on a remote and rugged course from Squaw Valley to Auburn, CA, complete with staggering vertical climbs, steep descents and 100-plus-degree temperatures.

On June 25, hundreds of hardcore athletes will again turn out in hopes of completing the relentless race. Just how does one prepare for such a demanding course? Race veterans Anita Ortiz, 47 – the 2009 female champion (pictured right) – and Jonathan Gunderson, 33, both athletes for Injinji, the event’s official sock sponsor, offer up some personal training tips to succeed in – and survive Western States:

Q: When should you start training?

AO: I start inJanuary, but I train for other things prior, so it all adds up!

JG: Istart thinking about the race in early January and gear my racing schedule to peak near Western States in late June.

Q: How do you physically prepare?

AO: I train 4-5 hours per day, six days per week – a mix of running and cross-training. I don’t count miles; only hours.

JG: I start with a lot of cross-training, such as riding a bike on a trainer, and focus on building up my total body strength and endurance with dips, pull-ups, push-ups and core workouts with an exercise ball. To give my muscles a rest, I don’t start running until mid-January. As my running activity increases, I cut back on my gym work and train in four-week cycles that build in intensity each week. When possible, I try to run on the actual race course to get some splits on different sections and give myself a visual of what to expect on race day.

Q: How do you avoid injury during training?

AO: If it hurts for several days, take a rest day or two.

JG: Listen to your body and give it ample rest. Don’t take on the attitude that one missed day is more important than your consistent weeks of training.

Q: How do you keep your feet in prime condition?

AO: I always wear Injinji Performance Toesocks, so I never have any foot problems. From the moment I put on my first pair, I never got another blister. EVER!

JG: I check for calluses, make sure my nails are trimmed and wear Injinji Performance Toesocks. They keep my feet dry and clean.

Q: What helps you mentally prepare?

AO: I prepare by being prepared. If I have put in the time and done the work, that knowledge serves as my personal “mantra.”

JG: Part of the mental preparation comes from simply running long distances and giving myself the knowledge that I can and have pushed through in the past. Prayer is also important. Some of the toughest moments in a 100-mile race come when you’re struggling alone in the dark, and prayer helps keep me centered, calm and feeling like I’m never out there all alone.

Q: Any tips for handling the heat and altitude changes?

AO: Prior to race day,sit in a sauna once a day for two weeks, and stay hydrated. On race day, make sure you eat early and often so that when things get tough, you have plenty of calories on board.

JG: For the heat, I’ll use a sauna and sometimes train in quite a bit of clothing to help get accustomed. In terms of the altitude, I try to arrange my schedule so that I can be in Lake Tahoe far enough in advance so that it’s a non-factor. If that’s not possible, Aspirin can help.

Q: What gear is crucial?

AO: MyInjinji Performance Toesocks, Salomon hydration pack and SaltStick electrolyte capsules.

JG: I’m loving my Injinji Compression Toesocks (pictured left), which have been a big asset on the longer races, staving off fatigue in my calves and helping with recovery after training. I also love my Brooks Racer ST 5 shoes, which fit my physical frame and running style for long trail races – even though they’re meant for the road. GU Roctane is fantastic in providing calories without stomach discomfort or energy drain.

Q: What do you eat the night before and the morning of race day?

AO: The day before,I eat a steak at the noon hour and a salad for dinner. Breakfast is usually a Pop Tart.

JG: Since the bulk of carbo-loading takes place 2-4 days prior to the race window, I try to eat light the night before – maybe whole wheat pasta with red sauce. The morning of, I sip on water with Nuun electrolytes and eat a Clif Bar and a banana.

Q: What single piece of advice would you impart on a Western States novice?

AO: Put in the time training. You can’t fake it at Western States – the elevation and heat will eat you alive. And stay cool by getting wet in every stream crossing you see!

JG: Do your homework. With the proliferation of ultramarathon information on the Internet, there’s a tremendous opportunity to be as prepared as possible. Understand the challenge and familiarize yourself with the course. Don’t underestimate how valuable that familiarity will be when you hit rough patches during the journey.

For more information on Western States, visit

Injinji® is the 2011 official sock sponsor of Western States and the innovator of the patented five-toe-sleeve Performance Toesock™ for sport, outdoor and casual use. Injinji (In-gin-ji), which means to reach one’s peak performance, is dedicated to helping athletes attain their personal best by offering a seamless, anti-friction interface that allows the foot to perform naturally from the heel to the five toes. A recipient of the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Seal of Acceptance, Injinji’s Performance Series is recognized for its ability to provide superior moisture management and healthy digital alignment. For more information on the company, visit


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