When I tell people I went to Western States Training Camp, the most common question I get is "What kind of coaching advice did you get?"
The answer is none. Everyday I showed up, there was minimal direction about the course (but it was marked pretty well), and then I ran. That was it. I talked to several people who have run Western States in the past, but I didn't really get much advice from them either. But that is not to say I didn't learn anything:
1) Medical Tape is better than Body Glide: I did two runs with my low back taped where my pack rubs and one day with just Bodyglide. Only got chafed on the Bodyglide day.
2) Cold water is your friend: I love to swim, but I hate cold water so I don't do it very often. But at camp I was so hot I was splashing in the streams everyday and it felt great. Also I did a post-run ice bath every day. I am not so sure if this really prevents any fatigue or soreness, but sitting in the ice water actually felt really good at the time. And cold water was also my friend in the hydration arena - I drink a heck of a lot more when I have ice in my bottles. Warm water and Heed just don't taste very good.
3) One hundred mile weeks are insane: I got in 100 miles in 8 days (not seven) with camp and I was absolutely WIPED. I still have lingering fatigue. I don't know how people do that kind of training. Fortunately, pretty much everybody I met was running 60-70ish mpw, and a lot of them have finished 100 milers. That helped my anxiety for Angeles Crest.
4) Two salt pills are better than one: I was downing two salt pills on the hour and never had any problems. It also helped to do them both at once on the hour, because I have learned than my memory really sucks when I run. If something like an aid station throws off my routine, I have a really hard time remembering at what time I last ate or took a pill. Doing it on the hour was best, then the interruptions didn't matter.
5) Real ultra-runners use hand helds: I am not fond of my hand-held, but it is something I am working on. It's an Ultimate Direction Bottle and it just seems a little too big around. I am getting to the point where I can carry it with my thumb cupped next to my fingers and not around the bottle, which helps a lot. I found I drink a lot more with the hand-held thsn with my Nathan pack, partly because I could see how much I was drinking and partly because it is tiring to suck the water from the pack. I actually thought I was drinking a lot more than I really was with the pack. Much better to squeeze and be able to see the fluid level at all times.
6) I need heat training!: I was sweating like a pig out there and it wasn't all that hot for that area and time of year. Plus, I am one salty sweater. Time to hit the sauna!
7) Real food rocks: I am lucky in that I really haven't had any GI issues with running. Once I was gagging and dry heaving during a race, but that is my everyday reaction to the "Espresso Love" flavor of GU. I do great with all the fruit flavored GU's, but when it comes down to it, I crave REAL FOOD. I was stuffing my face at all the aid stations and never had problems. I don't think I would have ingested near as many colories if I was only consuming maltodextrin paste the whole time!
So there you go. Who needs a coach to learn new things.