We catch up with experienced ultra runner Matt Healy who is in France to race the 100+ km Trail Alsace Grand Est by UTMB. He talks through his reasons for choosing this race, his approach to it, the importance of thorough recce, and his plans for nutrition.
Can you tell us a bit about the race and what attracted you to it?
Firstly, I wanted to come back and race in France. I gained such great experience last time being out in France and wanted to build on that. The race is 109 kilometres with over 3800 metres of vert. From my experience doing the recces and running through the castle ruins, I felt that this place has a deep history, which is very cool.
This a different race to what you’ve done in Europe in the past, are you approaching this differently?
Comparing it to my last race in France, the route is definitely a lot more runnable, which I really enjoy. In the build-up, we’ve focused quite a bit more on speed work and speed maintenance to ensure that the legs were there from a speed perspective.
How important is a thorough recce?
For me, the reason I always come out to my races three and a half weeks before I race them is purely to get to know the course and route. This is a complete must. Not only does it give me confidence, but also that familiarity on the day definitely helps to settle the nerves.
What are you expecting of the racing, and can you talk a bit about the course and your plan?
In terms of the course, it’s going to be quite a fast 100+ km if it’s not too wet underfoot and too slippery. The downhills will be a bit slower than expected, but overall, I think it’s going to be quite a fast day. I’m hoping that the speed work I’ve done will pay off in the last 30-40kms of this race.
How do you plan nutrition for a race of this distance?
I try to get in as many calories as possible without it becoming too heavy. I use Maurten for my main fuel source, which is a great source of carbohydrates and electrolytes. I also take in some solid foods like watermelon or banana, which helps to keep me satisfied. It’s important to make sure that I’m staying on top of my hydration and taking in enough carbohydrates throughout the day. Then in the latter part of the race I also up my caffeine intake and keep that fairly consistent per hour, with Red Bulls at the aid stations and caffeine gels in between.
Original Article: ASICS by Jazz Kuschke