Endurance and stamina are essential for any athlete, but when it comes to races like the Tour De France or the Race Across America (RAAM) it’s essential that your levels of endurance are greater than those of the average competitor. These events are known as Ultra-Endurance events, as they last longer or are longer in distance than a standard endurance event.
Ultra-endurance events can be defined by the length or number of days over which they take place. The Why Files state that an ultra-endurance marathon is something that lasts longer than the standard 26 miles and ultra-endurance cycling events last longer than the 100-mile century.
The psychological aspect of taking part in an ultra-endurance race is key to the success of the athlete. Ultra-endurance events can take a real toll on the body, so it is imperative to stay mentally as well and physically fit. When beginning some form of ultra-endurance race, a whole host of emotions are felt, like; anxiety, stress, excitement and nervousness. Endurance athletes are trained to control their emotions and channel how they feel into what they are doing. They are also taught to find distractions in order to keep their bodies going when it otherwise would be too much.
The RAAM is a 3,000 mile race from one coast of America to the other. It is often regarded as the world’s toughest cycling endurance race and is different in the fact that the clock doesn’t stop once the race has begun. Ultra-endurance athlete Shusanah Pillinger recently took part in the 2014 race in partnership with GSK Human Performance Lab, who studied the science behind what she was doing.
The Lab will be hosting their second live webinar, which will provide first-hand insights into ultra-endurance and the training necessary for such an event. The webinar will feature a presentation by Shusanah Pillinger, who set out to be the first solo British female to complete the Race Across America.
The GSK human performance lab mainly helped Shu with her nutrition, looking at exactly what she needed to keep her body fuelled and hydrated in order for her to complete the race within the allotted 12 days and 21 hours. Matt Furber, a sport scientist at GSK HPL, worked with Shu in the training before and during the RAAM. He accompanied her on the race and was able to alter her nutrition throughout in order to keep her adequately fuelled. Matt has worked in the field of sport science and research for seven years and is close to completing his PhD – he will also be presenting during the webinar, providing his perspectives on ultra endurance from a scientific viewpoint.