Nathalie Cochet is a French ultrarunner and past winner of the VMM 100km. She will be back at VMM 2018 so we took the chance to catch up with her about her training, her advice on the 100k course, her previous VMM victory and more.
1. You were the winner of VMM 100 two years ago. What are your main memories from the race on course that day?
VMM was my first 100K and a fantastic event. It was a great experience through beautiful scenery, people and a great learning. I have many memories. I remember when I fell down after 10K and my friend helped to get out of the hole and I started to have doubts about even finishing.
At 30K seeing the 70K runners waiting at the start line was a good motivation, stopping for a chat with friends who caught me later and running with them was good and helped me to forget the pain.
I was scared offing dropping when I saw the last, very steep hill that seemed never ending and it was a very, very long way to go down to the finish line!
Seeing my best friends waiting for me when I crossed the finishing line has been an unforgettable memory full of happiness.
2. What advice do you have for others who are attempting VMM 100 this year for the first time?
Good training is a must – 100k is a long journey. On the day of the race there is no need to rush. Be careful of the hills – instead of running, power walk it will conserve valuable energy.
Pace yourself, walk when it is needed, and try to run with somebody, chat with other runners, stop to see the view – this is another reason to stay out on the course.
At some point, your body will hurt. Think that the pain is temporary and at the end, it will be a great day. No matter how slow it has to be, just keep moving forward.
Nutrition is important – eat and drink regularly.
The main thing is to enjoy the scenery and your run!
3. You were living in Bangkok while training for that VMM win – how did you get the hills and trails done in such a built up, flat city?
It was a challenge. I got the chance with my job to fly often to Japan for a couple of weeks. This helped me to do long runs with elevation. In Bangkok, my running was city runs in the park, speed workouts, treadmills and stairs and I included core exercises. During the weekend I and my BKK runner friends went to practice trails and did hills repeat.
4. You have now moved to Hanoi – what trails have you found near the city to keep your trail needs satisfied?
To be honest, it is very hard to train in Hanoi either for Road or Trail, I did not find a good routine. I am still discovering thanks to a friend who showed me Dong Do and Ba Vi.
I would like to escape the city more often. Actually, Sunday is really not enough.
5. We are now just a month from race day – what is your plan for training from now to the race? And specifically, how will you taper in the 10 days pre-race?
I did not train enough so I will do one big training block with elevation and Speed workout for the next 2 weeks.
After I will taper and will reduce my mileage, I will bike and do some stretching to prevent injury.
And I will sleep a lot and start to fill my body with good food.
6. What inspired you to get into ultra running?
Basically, running was not my favorite sport. I practiced a lot of sport in competition as a kid – tennis, handball, cross country, tennis table, skiing. I was a tennis player for more than 30 years. I always hated running as I considered it a boring sport.
I started to run when I arrived in Bangkok in 2013. I joined Bangkok Runner group and that is an excellent group of runners. It was just amazing – very social events and nice people who encourage any runner slow or fast to keep going. Thanks to them, I was excited to register to races to go out, visit Asia and have a great time with them. Step by step I have been inspired by others and registered for longer distance races. I stopped completely to play with the ‘yellow ball’ when I was training for VMM.
Nowadays, I find running has many benefits including persistence, discipline, and determination to take new challenges.
7. Have you ever DNF in a race?
A DNF is never my plan but it happened to me three times. The last one was Lavaredo in June 2018, I knew that the race would be complicated to manage. Meeting my friends in Italy was my motivation.
It was a brutal race and I was surprised by the lowest temperature during the night. I was frozen and it prevented me from eating during the race. One of the difficulties was a lack of socialization with the other runners and I did not find a running pattern, I was fighting against myself. My mind was down.
The downhill to reach the 100k checkpoint was just terrible. At 100K, too cold, I decided to drop out.
There was only 20K to go, but my mind ceased to push forward and I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel to continue.
Whatever reason I gave myself, the DNF has probably helped me to become a stronger runner.
8. What is your nutrition strategy for an ultra?
Eating and Drinking a small quantity regularly.
9. How about after the race? Celebrate with beers or head for an early night?
No hesitation! A few minutes of rest – water then beer and a good shower, spend time with friends to celebrate the event.
10. Finally, how is your form this year and are you aiming to take back your number one slot on the podium at VMM 100?
I would like to think that I will have a good day. I don’t really know what to expect. In a race, there are so many unknown factors – I don’t want to blow up.
I know going into VMM that it will not be easy as I am not in the same physical and mental condition as 2016.
I just need a happy race and I am looking forward to it!