Britta's Blog

Keep an eye out over the next few months for these.

Britta is entered in the 2017 Fresh Choice Kepler Challenge for the first time this year.  She has (very kindly) offered to write some blogs about her experiences.

Below is her first.  Do let us know your thoughts and if you would like to see more!


Hello Kepler Runners, Waitlisters, and Supporters!

My name is Britta Clark, and I am a runner and student from Vermont in the USA, entered in this year’s Kepler Challenge. I am spending a year working on a master’s degree in Philosophy at the University of Otago, and am using my free time to run, race, hike, read blogs about running, and (now) write blogs about running!

From the leather chair of philosophy desk, looking out at the driving Dunedin rain, Kepler seems like a LONG way away. But I’m confident that before long we’ll all be gathered in Te Anau agonizing over what shoes/gels/packs to use, consuming far too much coffee and oatmeal, and ready to run faster than ever.

How do we get from our comfy armchairs to ‘running faster than ever’? I was recently inspired by my fellow Dunedin resident Anna Frost’s Irunfar interview, where she talks a lot about relationships. I think she’s spot on--preparing for an ultramarathon is all about relationship-building. Here’s a few to focus on in getting ready for December 2nd!

  1. A relationship with your legs. Generally, I’m like a lot of runners: I think that the more I run, the faster I’ll be. This is definitely not the case, and so I’ll be working on figuring out just how much I can run in a given week without overtraining or injury. My general policy right now is: I love running, so on any given day if I find myself making excuses not to run, I need a day off. Unless it’s pouring rain, in which case I need to force myself to run for at least a few miles.

  1. Relationships with your running buddies: Running is better with friends! Another pre-Kepler focus is reaching out to as many folks as possible for running adventures. If you’re interested in being overwhelmed, check out the Wild Things Trail Running club trail archive, or just This country has SO MANY trails, and my pre-Kepler training is going to incorporate as many as possible, with as many people as possible.

  1. A relationship with your watch. I’ve been without a watch for a year, but finally decided to ‘take running seriously’ and buy a Suunto. It’s been a rocky relationship thus far: really, Suunto, do I need 143 hours of recovery? I’ll be working on defining my watch relationship before Kepler: a casual thing or a lifetime partnership? One thing I think is super valuable is the heart rate data, especially for slow runs--I try to keep my slow runs under 145 BPM, which is sometimes far slower than I want it to be. Either way, figure out whether your watch actually helps your training: sometimes nerding out over heart rate data is fun, but sometimes, for me at least, it makes running feel too scientific.

  1. A relationship with muesli bars. I’ll give up my secret running weapon: at the recent Mt. Difficulty Ascent, I consumed 10 Pam’s Muesli bars, 4 large handfuls of BBQ chips, 2 GU’s, and a bunch of Tailwind. Someone once told me that running is an eating contest, and I took them very seriously. Prior to Kepler it’s crucial to build a good relationship with your race-day fuel. I’m lucky to have found such a dependable and supportive partner in Pam’s bars, but if you haven’t figured out your relationship with eating while running, I’d definitely suggest trying out a bunch of different foods on your long runs: pickles? Frosting? Pizza? Speights? Find something you can eat/drink a LOT of and still run well.

  1. A relationship with your goals. This relationship is hard to navigate, I think. Are you vocal about your goals, do you set a time you want to run the course in, or do you toe the start line and see what happens? I’m still defining this relationship as well--I know what my goals are for Kepler, but do I announce them in a blog post? That’s a little scary. I’ll take my goals out for a few more coffee dates and see where it goes. Stay tuned.

  1. A relationship with your mind: Finally, I think it’s super important to think about what you’ll think about during the 6 + hours you’ll be out there on the course. What kind of mental state makes your run best, and how do you get there? For me, over such a long course, I can’t be thinking all that much, unless it’s about when I’ll next reach for a muesli bar. I definitely can’t be thinking about other people or where I am in the race all that much. When I start calculating kms left to go or thinking about the people chasing me, I force myself to count to ten over and over until I’m back in that running flow-state.

Phew--quite a lot of relationship building to do in the next 4 months. Wishing you all the best as you prepare for the big day. See you on the trails!

Britta the Blogger