Odds are, if you’re reading this, you’re in great company. Many of us didn’t defy the statistics and manage to get a draw into Western States or Hardrock. While the disappointment is fresh, remember this won’t define your career, or even your year, as an ultrarunner. Last year’s odds for a single-ticket entrant (according to Western States) came out to just about 1% and about half of the entries were single-ticket holders. That’s just putting it into perspective, but by no means should this take away from the let-down if you didn’t get in. We’re here with you and want to help you put things into perspective with some tips on how to make the most of your upcoming season, even without Western States or Hardrock on the horizon in 2024.
First, understand it’s completely normal to feel disappointed or frustrated! No matter how slim the odds of something exciting, it’s human nature to plan for the positive outcome. It will take time to get over the draw and regain the lost motivation. It sounds cliche, but “there’s always next year” … meaning, the show must go on!
Time to engage your backup plan! Did you have another race in mind for 2024? Make that registration sooner rather than later. As athletes, we understand the importance of having a date on the calendar. By registering now, you’ll not only secure your spot, but you’ll be able to start building your training block (more on that later!). If you didn’t have a 2024 race picked out, use this as an opportunity to explore new races. Whether you’re looking to support a local event or make a race-cation out of your 2024 A-race, there are plenty of races to choose from. Play around with the filters on sites like Ultrasignup and Running in the USA or drop us a line, we’re always happy to send over some suggestions.
Even without a race on the calendar, it’s vital to set some goals and stay committed to training. Running is a special place, because there’s always room for improvement on multiple fronts. Maybe 2024 is the year for speed, perhaps you’re feeling a distance-focused goal or maybe consistency is king this year. No matter what metric you’re basing progression on, having a tangible goal & consistent tracking in place will help you maximize your training.
One way to train efficiently and effectively is through hiring a coach. At Altitude Endurance, we know a thing or two about that and would love to have a conversation about what private endurance coaching would look like for you & your specific goals. Nowadays, there are plenty of coaching options available. First and foremost, private run coaching is no longer bound by location. With the technology in our smart watches and coaching apps, you can effectively work with a coach, exchange training data and feedback from anywhere in the world. Second, there are two main buckets of coaching we’d like to focus on here: Training plans and private one-on-one coaching. Training plans are often customized for the individual athlete, but do not offer as much support and feedback as private coaching. This is a fantastic option for self-motivated athletes, knowledgeable about the training process, and might be constrained by a tighter budget. Private run coaching, on the other hand, is fully supported with constant coach communication and frequently updated training prescriptions based on recent performances. This level of attention often brings a slightly higher price point, but at Altitude Endurance, we pride ourselves on having an affordable private monthly coaching plan with maximum attention to the athlete’s needs.
Endurance training can be an isolating sport. If coaching isn’t necessarily in the cards for your particular training style, perhaps a running community can help guide your season and break the isolation. Our favorite place to turn for running friendships are local run clubs. Odds are you’ve seen running groups out on the roads and wondered how they met. The best way to break into a new club or group is to simply introduce yourself! Runners are very inclusive and love meeting people with shared passions. Clubs are meant to be social, so don’t stress about pace or performance. The goal of a running club is to bring people together over a shared enjoyment of the sport, so don’t hesitate to go to that first meeting! Other ways to find clubs include Strava and Facebook. Give a search for your town or city’s name + ‘run club’ and there’s bound to be a result or two. If there isn’t, then perhaps starting a running club in 2024 could be that goal you’ve been searching for!
While it’s not the same as toeing that starting line, volunteering or cheering on those lucky enough to get a lottery entry is a great way to experience the joys of race day as well as learn a bit about the course for next year! Races wouldn’t be able to exist without organizers and volunteers, so donating some of your time to make race day special for those running keeps this sport functioning! An added benefit of volunteering is that you get inside info on the course and the athletes feedback in real time! Working at an aid station gives you a front row seat to exactly how runners are feeling, which can be incredibly helpful in shaping your plan-of-attack when you get that entry in next year’s lottery! For those interested, here’s information on volunteering at Western States and here’s some information on volunteering at Hardrock.
While not winning a lottery entry into a running race can be disheartening, it can also be treated as an opportunity to set new goals, find new races, level up your training with a coach or joining a new running community. Having the right mindset about this disappointment is key to turning an otherwise frustrating process into a positive for your overall growth in the sport. Remember, you’re not alone in this setback, so chatting with other ultra & trail athletes can lead to new friendships and opportunities. If you’re interested in chatting more on this topic or want to explore what hiring a coach might look like for you and your goals, drop us a line at Altitude Endurance and set up some time to chat with Coach Brian.