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Preparing for an Ultraskate: Part 1 - Training




New Year, new challenges… Some of you may be thinking of taking part in an ultraskate this year, but maybe thinking where do I start with preparations? Well, here’s a comprehensive plan to get you ready for the challenge.



Now, firstly, this may seem obvious, but if you haven't ever seen an ultraskate and you are new to this endeavour, before you do anything else; do some research on upcoming events, and check out some of the videos of previous events. Push - The film offers a fantastic introduction into this amazing arena. 


Don't be scared by how enormous this challenge may seem, nor discouraged by the eye watering mileage achieved by some of the seasoned pros of this arena, we all have to start somewhere, and this community is not new to this notion. Moreover, this community is full of incredibly talented and friendly individuals who are always keen to help, offer support along your skating journey, and provide guidance. And always remember to have fun! And enjoy the journey.    

 

On the lineup of ULTRASKATES for 2024:

Ultraskates worldwide anticipated for 2024: 

1 - Miami Homestead Ultraskate 2024 - (15-16th February 2024) - (Now concluded)

2 - UK Ultraskate 2024 - (13-14th July 2024)


‘1/4' 24 hour Ultraskates - (6 Hours): 

1 - The 1/4 UltraSkate 2024 - Singapore - (25th May 2024)

2 - The Dutch 1/4 UltraSkate 2024 - Netherlands - (TBC).



A great resource for upcoming events internationally is Skate IDSA (International Distance Skateboarding Association). If you are based in the UK, and you’re interested in exploring longboarding events generally, its worth checking out Vandem Longboard shops Events page, and more broadly (inc. skateboarding) Skateboard GB.

For Social Media Groups with great communities, information on upcoming events (of all scales), and general advice, I would definitely recommend the following:



Now that you’ve had a chance to explore some videos, alongside some of the upcoming distance events this year, (and assuming you already ride a longboard fairly proficiently), theres only one more thing to do before moving on to training… Register for an event, even when in doubt! Seriously!


To often will we set out with plans and not follow through. Committing from the outset will make your training time bound making your goal more realistic and attainable! So just do it and register! And know you can always give up your spot, because someone is bound to happily take your place. And finally, its advisable to register as soon as possible as some events such as the Miami Homestead Ultraskate are regularly oversubscribed, and registration fees go up as the event date approaches.  


Right now lets move on to the comprehensive plan on how to prepare for your first ultraskate:


A few months before the Ultraskate:


1. Establish a baseline for your stamina & build endurance:

Start by establishing a baseline for your stamina. You need to know roughly how far and for how long you can ride before considering a plan, and establishing progress. Go for a few long, steady rides, not over exerting yourself and establish your rough speed and distance. Its important not to over do it from the outset as this can lead to longer recover periods, injuries, and simply put you off wanting to train (ever again!). 

Once you’ve roughly established your ‘baseline’, you can start planning to gradually increase the distance each week incrementally to condition your body for the long hours you’ll spend skating during an ultra event. When you’re comfortable with long rides, you can start speeding up. But note, ultraskate aren’t as much as test of speed as much as a test of resilience (especially if this your first ultraskate!), so focus on being comfortable riding for long stretches of time. 

It's always important to remember that you set the goal! And it's important to be realistic! Equally you can do the maths on how to achieve your goal distance. So say you’re aspiring to attain 150 miles, and say the track of your upcoming ultraskate is 1.3 miles long, you would have to complete 116 laps, so over a 24 hour period you would have to average roughly 4.8 laps an hour, etc. Moreover, with this information in mind you can also start painting a picture and strategise on how you're going to undertake this challenge, and factor in breaks.

 

2. Strength Training

If your available time permits, consider incorporating strength training into your routine, focusing on your core, legs, and back (and lets not forget gluteals!.. The buttocks). These muscles groups are crucial for maintaining balance and posture over extended periods. 

Note: In particularly bad weather conditions going to the gym maybe the best option for keeping fit, but this assumes its within the budget. But remember there are many strengthening exercises that you can do at home that can help you 'work' these elements of your body, and youtube can be an incredible resource. And lets not forget going for regular short runs, is always an easy way to maintain and/or increase fitness.


3. Flexibility and Balance

Once again, if your available time permits, work on your flexibility and balance with exercises like yoga or Pilates. This will help prevent injuries and can improve your balance, skating posture and technique.


But even if you don't have the time for a little yoga session within your week, simply establishing a good stretching routine both before and after long rides will substantially help minimise if not avoid the aches and pains post training.  


4. Nutrition and Hydration 

With the many nutrition plans out there for preparing for marathons and ultras, I feel it would be redundant delving into this to deep, but what I would say is develop a nutrition and hydration plan that keeps you fuelled and hydrated during long training sessions, and the event itself. Experiment with different foods and drinks to see what works best for you. If your budget allows, and you’re looking for something to give you a boost of energy during long sessions, experiment with energy gels and snacks, and water supplements with electrolytes. 


But first and foremost, make sure you stay hydrated and drink plenty of water throughout your long rides!


5. Gear Check

  • Your LDP (Long Distance Pumping / Pushing) setup: This topic is far too vast to discuss in this article and will have to be explored in another post. But simply, to start with, just ensure your longboard and its components are in top condition. We want to avoid ‘Supermans’ because of something breaking! And to that point wear a helmet! There will be no option but to wear one in most events, so you may as well get used to it, and heck it might just protect your melon!

  • As pointed out in the previous section, drinking plenty of water throughout your sessions is extremely important and hydration backpacks can be extremely useful! Camelbak offer some great options, but these can be a bit pricey. Decathlon offer some fantastic options at a far more budget price point. But really anything with a decent water bladder should serve you well, especially on the longer rides.

  • Clothing: Running wear works for most, but go with what works for you, and depending on where you live, having a light weight waterproof jacket / shell isn’t a bad shout! Compression clothing and socks can help ease discomfort and cramping on long rides.

  • Shoes: A point of huge controversy amongst the aficionados. Minimalist, natural, rotation control, or simply some Nikes? Just like running shoes, there are a lot of options and it can sometimes feel overwhelming! Many of the pros will swear by minimalist ‘barefoot’ running shoes like Vibrams as you get a wonderful flexibility and manoeuvrability from the shoes design, you truly feel everything (mostly in a good way), but choices like this can take a bit of getting used to for most as many of us are used to stable padded shoes that offer ‘comfort’, so this might not be for everyone. But ultimately, the best advice would be to start by simply finding a pair of shoes you’re comfortable in for long stretches of time, and ideally find something that is light weight and breathable, that offers grip, and that your feet aren’t going to slip around in. Blisters aren’t great!.. And if you live somewhere with fairly regular rainfall, opting for something waterproof isn’t a bad idea! As riding with wet feet for prolonged periods of time can be truly miserable.   


6. Mental preparation

Undertaking an ultraskate is as much a mental challenge as it is physical. In turn, practicing ‘visualisation’ and positive self-talk in preparation for the tough moments during the event can help. Its always important to try to remain positive, and remember to have fun! 


Music I feel is a must when it comes to getting into the mood, the groove, and mindset! Build yourself a playlist that can accompany and grow with you along your journey.


For the ultraskate itself, its always advisable that you bring ‘support’. Find someone who’s willing to support you both mentally as well as physically throughout the event, replenishing water, supplying food, and more. Hopefully where a nice back rub or foot massage is on the cards.


7. Rest and recovery 

Don’t underestimate the importance of rest and recovery. Schedule rest days and get plenty of sleep to allow your body to heal and strengthen.


8. Join a community and connect with people local to you

Connect with other ultra skaters through social media groups or local clubs. They can offer support, advice, and motivation. Finding people to ride with locally can offer a real motivational boost to keep training when motivation is running low. And if you’re lucky enough you might find someone, or multiple people to join you on this journey. Along my journey of LPD longboarding I have had the privilege to meet some incredible people, and make some friends for life. 


9. Practice Events 

If the opportunity presents itself, participating in shorter distance events or time trials is a great way to simulate ‘race’ conditions and test your preparation.


10. Final Preparations

In the weeks leading up to the event, taper your training, finalise your gear and nutrition, and ensure you’re mentally and physically ready for the challenge. I find tapering your training, especially when training has been very intensive over several weeks is particularly important. Letting your body rest, and giving yourself the opportunity to recover before ‘race day’ will improve your chances of achieving the goal you’ve been working towards!


And don't be too silly with your training, things can get out of hand... 😝🤣





The next article Preparing for an Ultraskate: Part 2 - The Lead Up, will explore preparing for your ultraskate, with general nuggets of advice, equipment lists, and more.


Remember, preparation is key to a successful ultra skate experience, but first and foremost, have fun! Happy riding!


Q&A:

Last week I was asked for advice on training in the wet conditions. So here are some pointers:

  • Firstly training in the rain is never fun, but its something you have to 'train' / condition yourself to get used to. But with this said, having the right equipment can really help. As far as clothing is concerned I find running wear works best, accompanied with a warm breathable top and waterproof shell / jacket and shoes. Ultimately, you want to keep your upper-torso warm and dry.

  • As far as riding equipment, there are a few products intended for helping ride in the rain:

    • Longboard rain fenders - Intended to avoid getting splash back from the wheels in rainy conditions. This can be particularly helpful in avoiding taking on water on the deck... Apologies for the boating pun 😆😂 Depending on your setup, whether bracket or double drop, there are a few DIY guides such as these guides: https://shorturl.at/lmsLO and https://shorturl.at/jyEJR or 3D printed options. Bought options however, are fairly limited, but options include:

      • Exile MFG (although I don't know if these are manufactured anymore)

      • MudBuster by @cloudbuster98

      • And examples like Pats Risers Subsonic fenders

      • Alternatively, if you're in the market for a more expensive option:

        • RollsRolls Longboards offer the Woody and Sportster, that are beautiful platforms and effectively offer built in 'rain fenders'

        • Melonen kacke (MK Longboards) custom Drop 2 and ISS offer lovely options.

  • As for wheels, there is a lot of controversy within the community over the best wheels for riding in rainy conditions, whether wheel grooves, duro, diameter, contact patch, core, or material. I'm personally to broke most of the time that having a collection of wheels for every weather condition isn't an option. So whilst there are options of specialist 'rain wheel' with the likes of 100mm Boa Constrictor (Stage 5 Fangs) and 'Harfang' which offer 'pre-grooved' wheels from a variety of manufacturers, I would typically just stick to something more generic and multipurpose, with a lower duro to offer greater traction. I like my pink 85mm 77a Speed Vents, but I know a lot of people will have varying opinions. (If anybody has some suggestions for good rain wheels, please feel free to post in the comment on our FB group).

  • Last tip. To ensure longevity in your gear, make sure to get your board and parts dry after long wet rides, and keep things lubricated. (No puns intended 🤣)


Happy riding. And catch you all next week for another dose of 'Food for thought Thursdays'.


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