Train to Finish

By: Suzi "T" Cope

This article originally appeared in "Suzi T's Trail 100's Newsletter" and is reprinted with her permission.


The book "Eat to Win" was probably a success because we would all like to be capable of winning by simply eating certain foods. We are even willing to read about how to train correctly to win, though obviously only a few ultra runners will ever win an ultra during their life, because it also requires talent. However strange it may seem, the titles to this article is not as senseless as it appears. I agree, nobody consciously trains to quit, but my training philosophy is geared towards a finishers reward, not a winners award.

My personal achievements in ultra running, and those of others I have listened to, prove that the one most important ingredient for completion in an ultra is mental attitude. Not just on race day, or race weekend for a hundred, but during training. The Suzi T definition of training may reveal the secret to all my hundred mile finishes, in that I believe LIFE is training for everything. Not that training should be your life, but that your life should count as training. When fifty mile race turns into a fifty mile hike, I consider it a training session of grand proportion.

Setting goals that you believe are attainable helps, no matter what everybody else thinks. You can finish your chosen event if you honestly deep down trust your ability and your preparation. There are stories after each run, about someone doing well who "doesn't" train. Well, what is training?

The components I base my plans on include the facets that every day life revolve around. First and foremost, to finish, your head has to be on straight. Which means emotionally you must be sound. Certainly I act in a less than sane manner at times, but forme that passes as normal. The relationship I have with myself, my husband, my family, my co-workers, my friends, and even strangers is reflected in my success possibilities. If you sacrifice your personal relationships for an all consuming training regimen your success ratio drops as well as the satisfaction of a finish if it occurs.

Everything counts as training and you can reward yourself accordingly. When I walk to the mailbox instead of driving I feel better mentally, and I count it physically as part of my training. At work in the travel agency I often stand at my desk instead of sitting because the time on my feet is training. When I work in Veterinary clinics I consider lifting a big dog an "upper body work out".

Sure, I could train more mileage and run faster during races, but what would I sacrifice to find the time and energy? Why give up rock climbing, when you can just count it as strength training? Take your kids for a bike ride, or your dog for a walk, it's life, it's training, and it counts.

Even resting is part of the plan. When I'm injured, or tired, or both, I try not to begrudge the runs I am missing. Instead I do my planning. The strategy I feel is needed to finish includes wardrobe planning, food preparation, equipment modification, and lots of day dreaming. The anticipation is half the enjoyment, and if things go right, it wont be ALL the enjoyment. Give yourself credit. Count your life as training. Make your life the best you can manage and your ultra experiences will provide the satisfaction that comes with a completion.