Eric Bonnotte

Mini guide to finishing an Ultra

Who is Eric Bonnotte?

Eric Bonnotte, 53 years old, 35 years of running including 26 in the world of ultra endurance, whether on road, on circuit (hourly races) or on trail.

My first real ultra was the Tour du Mont-Blanc in 1993 organised by a Swiss, Gilbert Hirschy. At the time, it was a race in 4 stages and it was not called "ultra-trail" but "super-marathon".

It was another world!

Where did you get the idea to write a book on how to prepare for ultra?

When you've been doing ultras for so many years, you have to admit that it no longer becomes a sport but a real way of life. As a result, family, friends, runners or not, colleagues and various acquaintances often tackle the theme of running when they meet each other. And there are always tons of questions I have to answer, like "Do you train a lot? "And what do you eat on a daily basis? "And when you run, how do you manage not to get sore all over? "... It's always frustrating to be able to give only bits and pieces of answers...

Recently, a friend asked me to propose a complete training programme for a race that he is going to do at the end of August in Chamonix...

So I sat down behind my keyboard and started writing a practical text covering all areas of preparation. Six months later, I gave him a first proof of my document: more than 200 pages presenting at length and across my training method!

So I thought it would be interesting to share it with others. I searched, in vain, for a few publishers and ended up going into self-publishing!

Tell us a little about your book. What subjects do you deal with?

I have organised the book into 7 main themes which, in my opinion, are absolutely fundamental in the preparation for an ultra whether it is "trail" or "road".
So there are seven main chapters which are as follows: the cardiovascular system, the tendon-osseous system, the muscular system, nutrition, the mind, the equipment and the general organisation in the face of a coming deadline.

The main thread of the book is the notion of "pleasure" which must imperatively guide the rider throughout his preparation and of course his competition!

To be honest, the book is aimed at runners who are no longer beginners but who already have some 30/40 km trails or marathons under their belt. So these are people who already have a little notion of training.

This is the reason why the first chapter about training in pure running is relatively short because it is not what interests me.
Indeed, you can be a super-competitor with a VO2Max at 20 km/h and never manage to complete a 100 mile run in the mountains!
Why is that? Because ultra, whether it is trail or road, requires many other skills than just knowing how to run fast!

So throughout the book I unroll all the other tracks that must absolutely be explored to earn the Finisher medal.

One or two concrete examples?

Let's take the case of nutrition: there are countless people who give up because of intestinal problems! Diarrhoea, vomiting, saturated stomachs, dehydration and even worse, hyponatremia (lack of sodium in the body. It can lead to death!).

On several pages, I explain the specific running sessions and the techniques to put in place so that you never have digestive problems again in competition. Eating while running is one thing, but if you forget to learn how to do it in training, there is a good chance that it will lead to a decrease in physical capacity or, at worst, abandonment.

In the end, what I recommend are very simple sessions, to be practiced regularly, just to get your body used to digesting while running. When you say it like that, it sounds stupid but you have no choice: you have to go through a learning phase to be comfortable on the day!

Another example: on an ultra, you will, at one time or another, be confronted with pain. In the "mental" chapter, I propose a fairly simple approach to strengthen your mind and prepare for pain. I teach the reader to "positive" his pain, to make him a companion on the road, a person with whom we talk. Of course, when you say it like that and take it out of context, it may sound a little silly, but when you read the whole chapter, you understand what it is all about and how you can work on that point.

I also explain how to tie your laces to practice ultra... Strange, isn't it? Not so much because if you don't respect certain rules, you're guaranteed to get tendinitis! Or even, if you insist on training, periostitis which will take weeks to disappear...

What do you think makes it different from other training books?

Well, it's already my book, so it's different and much better than the others! Ha ha ha! Just kidding !

Well, without joking, I would say that the whole book is based on experience. There's no theory, no super complicated graphs that only an EPS graduate can understand! It's all based on experience! We are 100% experimental and empirical. And I specify it many times in the book: "it's what I do, and not necessarily what I have to do!"

So who exactly is this book for?

If at the beginning, I intended it for runners who, for example, run trails (50 to 80 km) and who want to orientate themselves on the long or even the very long ones, the feedback I got from readers before publication has led me to adapt it for any type of runner. Basically, if you are used to doing 30 km and want to go for 50/60, that's fine! And on the other hand, if you are already familiar with ultra-trail, the book is also intended for you because it can possibly provide an answer to a recurring problem that you can't manage to solve. I really tackle every possible subject imaginable with ultra-practical advice to be applied as soon as the book is put down!

I have a reader, an experienced runner, who recently told me that the book never leaves his bedside table and that every day he comes back to pick up a particular piece of information from it... That was my basic objective: to make the book become a sort of "guide" to the ultra-runner's route! The Bible, so to speak (ha ha ha ha !)

And then to be complete, I also had a few non runner readers. Well, these, in a very surprising way, gave me extremely positive feedback by explaining to me, for example, they had found a certain philosophy of life and techniques, especially mental ones, allowing them to solve their daily difficulties!

Do you mention Raidlight?

Initially, I had some doubts about the legislation regarding trademarks. A friend of mine reassured me about this by telling me that I was entitled to name whoever I wanted as long as it was not in the context of an advertising contract. So I specify that I don't have any sponsors and I quote some brands that I use happily in races!

Concerning Raidlight, I talk about the Raidlight stretch shorts that I've been using for a couple of years and especially the Responsiv race vest which is, in my opinion, nothing less than the best trail running pack currently available on the market!

Any feedback from first-time readers?

Some already, yes!

Quite positive. I can mention the following for example:

- "Super easy and very pleasant to read. It's written like a thriller, with lots of funny anecdotes but above all concrete exercises!"

- "A mine of information! Sometimes you have to reread and take notes so that you don't forget. I've glued post-it notes on almost every page!"

- "I've already read a lot of books on training. This one is the clearest, most precise and most concrete I have ever read!"

- "A real slap in the face! I thought I knew the ultra well and mastered its fundamentals. I discovered a new world while reading this book... Another Universe is opening up to me! A Must Have in his running library !!!"

- "I love the style, the tone, the table of contents which easily brings us to the chapter we are interested in..."

Where can we find it ?

Theoretically on order in all bookshops. It will soon be available in the biggest brands : Fnac, Amazon, Cultura, Decitre, Espace Culturel...

And then of course you can order it directly from the publisher by following this link:

You can also subscribe to the book's Facebook page:

And if you're reading this book, I'm expecting a little feedback from you: questions, remarks but also an opinion on my "author" page on! And above all, I expect you to apply all my advice! You guys are going to have to work a little bit!

Any other writing projects?

Of course, yes! Publishing this book gave me a little boost on that side!

I've just published a short story for teenagers, in the "children's novel" category, still with the same publisher. The title is "Margot's Birthday". Primary (CM1/CM2) and middle school (6°/5°) teachers will be delighted to learn that I've added at the end of the book a small pedagogical use of the text with a set of questionnaires for student readers! Go ahead, teachers, I've done all the work for you! (ha ha ha !!!).

I published this under the pseudonym of Franck Braine and to be complete, I will soon bring out my very first novel entitled "Coureurs Solitaires".

This book was published in 2004 by " Empreinte édition " but it was quickly sold out. I'm taking advantage of to republish it! I'm also planning a sequel, something that was asked for by the readers at the time!

A last word ;-)

Yes, I wish you a nice reading ! And I hope that this book will make you want to "go beyond your limits" and take a trip into the wonderful world of ultra!