Before we get to the nuts and bolts of experimentation ideas, let's chat about training partners. Some people are attracted to ultras for the solitude when training. Or, as was my case, you're looking for a little peace and quiet from your screaming newborn. If this is you, there's no need for a training partner or partners... enjoy the silence.
For those of you that prefer a more social setting, finding good training partners can be invaluable. I have the benefit of having an ultrarunning spouse. In fact, many of the “dates” Shelly and I go on involve running up and down mountains. We also have a great network of friends collectively known as the “Hobby Joggas.” We routinely go on group runs then hit up a local bar afterward.
Here are some tips to find training partners:
Tip #1: Find other ultrarunners. Social networking is great for this. Facebook is teeming with runners, many probably live near you. Connecting with them is easy, and most are always looking for new training partners. It's also a great way to get advice from those that have more experience.
Tip #2: Convince your friends to join you on this adventure. If your friends are adventurous, they'll probably join with little hesitation. If they are not adventurous, just lie by omission. If you're training for a 50k, tell them you're training for a 5k and just start going through the training plan. At some point they will catch on. At that point, just say “Oh, did I say 5k, I meant 50k! I've always had trouble with zeros.”
Tip #3: Get a dog that likes to run. They make great training partners. I'd suggest some sort of sled dog breed. I used to own a Pomeranian, which is apparently a descendant of sled dogs. Once trained, he could easily run 20+ miles as long as the temperatures were cool. Other active breeds will work, too. Avoid dogs like bulldogs as they aren't well-suited for running. Avoid little dogs like miniature pincers or Chihuahuas, too. That just looks silly.