BY DEAN KARNAZES
"Finishing an ultramarathon is simple. All you have to do is not stop." That zinger comes from my latest book, but when you think about it, it really is true. Many endurance sports boil down to one thing: persisting until you reach the finish line. The challenge, of course, is how to reach that finish line as quickly as possible but still reach it. That's where the 10% Rule comes in.
Developed over years of strenuous research (i.e., many respectable finishes, with a few DNF's sprinkled in as educational lessons), I now use the guiding principle when racing to always keep 10% in energy reserves. On race day, I always remind myself to obey this rule or potentially face the consequences. Now, don’t interpret this as simply meaning to go slow. On the contrary, the concept is to push as hard as possible during each race stage, bumping up against that 10% energy reserve threshold throughout but never crossing over... until the finish.
Once you feel that strong gravitational pull from the finish line, the 10% Rule goes out the window. The idea is to push like a crazy person and give everything you've got, arriving at the finish and either puking your brains out or collapsing (special bonus points for both).
Try it on your next race and see if it helps you (feel free to skip the puking and collapsing part; that apparently is my specialty).
While the 10% Rule applies from the start, I make sure I'm 100% ready before the gun goes off. This includes taking 3 Race Caps Supreme, Fully Charged, Endurance BCAA+, and Anti-Fatigue Caps to help prolong my endurance from the very start. I continue using these throughout the race, along with other Hammer Nutrition products like HEED and Endurolytes Extreme. Assurance that you’re getting the best ingredients in ideal formulations goes a long way to boosting race day confidence.
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Dean Karnazes is an ultramarathoner and Hammer Nutrition Athlete. He has raced and competed worldwide and once ran 50 marathons, in all 50 US states, in 50 consecutive days. His most recent book is A Runner’s High.