Part 2 Gearing up For Your First Ultra Run - Tahoe Trail Running

Rachel McCullough training for the Sierra Crest 30k. Photo by Garrett McCullough.

What Gear do you Need for an Ultra Race?

This is the second post in a two part series from TMS Ambassadors Rachel McCullough and Chris Cloyd to help newer runners or more seasoned 5k or 10k runners learn about how prepare and gear up for long distance and ultra runs. Click here for Part 1 – Preparing for Your First Ultra Run.

What’s on your feet?

I’m totally biased, but Salomon Running makes the best trail race shoes on the planet. They’re durable, FAST, and look like the race cars they are. I typically run in the S-Lab Series, but I also race the Sense Ultra and the Wings Pro SG.

Read about the Top 10 Trail Running Shoes for 2017 here and research which shoes are best for your running style and foot shape –

What do you think about light versus moderate or high-cushioned shoes?

As a coach/trainer, I’ve always encouraged taking the time to train your feet and ankles to support themselves, then run in a lower profile, more minimal shoe. I took a full year of foot/gait/ankle/calf training in the gym before committing to running. You have to dial in the suspension system before taking the car off road, you know? I’ve softened a bit in my old age, though, and think that what’s most important is that you listen to your body and find the shoe that fits your gait/style. Everybody runs differently, so let that guide your purchase decision. I think less shoe is more when trail running, though – less to trip over in technical terrain.

Have you found the perfect sock?

Perfect is a big word, but I love Darn Tough’s products. It seems so simple, but their single-stitch design really does help prevent blisters and hotspots, and they breathe really well. For trail running, I like the 1 inch cuffs that go up above your ankle bone – they help keep rocks and dirt and other stuff from getting into the space between your sock and foot and aggravating your skin.

What kind of pack do you wear and why?

I run the Salomon 3 Liter race vest, and it’s the perfect race tool. Run vests are infinitely better than packs, ergonomically, and will totally change the way you run with something on your back. The Salomon 3 Liter race vest has plenty of space for food, sunscreen, salt tablets, maps, etc. and can carry a full liter of water in 2 Salomon soft flasks. I’ll race it in every ultra I enter for as long as I’m racing. Check out a full selection Salomon running packs here.

What’s in your pack?

Typically, when racing, I run with pretty little. I highly encourage running with water, so you can constantly be drinking and keep your hydration up (I am for a liter per hour, usually). I run with extra fuel (a few gels, some whole foods to chew on, or a bar or two), salt tablets (always), and sunscreen. I typically pack a spare contact lens, too, because it’s an easy, light thing to bring with you to help avoid a day-ender.

What is your hydration system? Hand held bottles, bladder, etc?

Salomon Soft Flasks on my chest, in my race vest. I hate running with stuff in my hands, and don’t like having the weight of a bladder on my back. Typically somewhere from 1/2 liter to a full liter capacity.

For a newer long-distance runner, who might not want to buy everything for their first race, what pieces of gear are most important to invest in right away?

Spend the time and money to find the right shoe for your gait/stride. Don’t skimp – running is cheap, and shoes are really important. The investment will pay you back. A good running vest will change your perspective on long runs, and allow you to carry a ton of tools to help you succeed when racing.

What’s the one item that will make or break your race?

Maybe it’s not the 1 item, but STAY HYDRATED AND BRING SALT TABLETS OR ELECTROLYTE REPLACEMENT. It’s a losing battle when racing, and if you start cramping or get tight or your stride shortens you can only blame yourself. I always trend conservative and drink a ton when running, and keep my salt up by supplementing with Salt Stick Tablets as well.

Ready to run your first long distance trail run or ultra run? Check out the scenic and fully supported Sierra Crest Ultra Run from Truckee to Donner Summit.

Rachel McCullough is an avid runner, hiker, mountain biker, rock climber, yogi, skier and photographer living in Truckee, CA. Follow @rachelmcphotos on Instagram for stunning images of beautiful Sierra scenery. When Rachel isn’t enjoying her free time in the outdoors, she’s teaching skiing at Northstar California or building gorgeous websites for her clients at McCullough Web Services.

Chris Cloyd is a Truckee, CA-based mountain athlete, competing at the national level in triathlon and ulramarathon racing over the past 5 years. He works full time as a trainer and coach out of Performance Training Center by Julia Mancuso while pursuing his own athletic career in the mountains. Find him on Instagram at @_trashtalk to follow all of his endeavors from behind the lens!

Mid-day runs in the Martis Valley. Bring on the heat!
Mid-day training run in the Martis Valley. Bring on the heat!

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