This is advice on training and running an ultra marathon from a middle/back of the pack runner with little natural talent. There are plenty of professional or sub elite runners that give great advice on how to be competitive in ultra long distance running. This article is for the runners who LOVE running for the act of not because they are good at or end up at the top of podiums.
Here is some of my advice if you dream of completing an ultra marathon:
- Run at inconvenient times. I am a morning person, I feel best when I get my run in at 5 am by 4 PM I am ready to relax and wind down from the day. I don’t like running after lunch time but when I am training for an ultra. If you are going to be running all day then you have to prepare your body to run even when it’s not feeling it’s best and possibly even when lunch is still sitting in your stomach. Morning, afternoon and evening runs become part of my plan when training for an ultra.
- Use doubles to get in more miles. When you have a busy life or if you run slower it can be hard to fit all your miles in during one session. Sometimes fitting in an 8 mile run in the morning and 4 more in the evening is easier than all 12 miles at once.
- Include your family and/or friends! Training for an ultra means spending a lot of time running, if you can share that time with people you love all the better. My kids can’t ride or run 50 miles, but they can run the last couple miles with me or they can ride their bikes 5 miles of a mid-week run.
- Eat lots of snacks during your training runs. Ultras are not about burning calories so you need to get your stomach used to eating while running. I suggest a mix of easy to eat gels and also some “real food” if you are going to be out there all day.
- Walk the ups, run the downs and flats. This will make sure you will make it to the finish line and not “burn all your matches” at the beginning.
- Practice in your race gear. It’s the worst to have something chafe all day on race day. Wearing your intended race gear on a couple long runs before race day will give you a good idea if it will work for you.
- Try to run on terrain similar to you race. No need to run on technical trails if your ultra is on pavement.
- Spend just as much energy on recovery as you do on training. Some recovery tips HERE.
- Have fun! Don’t take any of it too seriously, dance on the down hills, high 5 all volunteers and kids.
Do you want to run an ultra someday?
If you have ran an ultra, what would you add to the list?