If you’ve ever thought about running an ultramarathon, you’ll know that they require a lot of preparation. They can be an incredible experience, but they aren’t easy and require lots of training. However, with proper information and preparation, ultramarathons can be achieved and are totally rewarding when you complete one.
And we mean completing, not racing. There is a big difference between doing both, and we recommend anyone running their first ultramarathon to be smart and get through it while having a good experience, before hurrying off trying to set a new record.
To start working towards your first ultramarathon, here is some advice.
Be smart in your training
You wouldn’t train for an obstacle course the same way you prepare for an ultramarathon, so when you begin your training, don’t go all out. Start your training around six months before the race, and work out all the kinks during that time, including long runs, nutrition, hill climbing, gear needed, etc. Set small goals for each day, week and month, and make sure they’re achievable.
Focus on nutrition
Pretty much any type of training you do will help you to finish an ultramarathon. The difference between finishing it and actually enjoying the process is your nutrition. Have a good nutrition plan in place, and try different foods, gels, and electrolytes during your training months, to see what best works for you. Have a solid plan outlined before your race, and follow it through while running. Getting down your fifteenth gel pack during the ultramarathon may take some mental convincing, but your body will be glad you did it.
Practice back-to-back training
Any proper ultramarathon training plan needs to include a back-to-back long run around every two weeks before the big day. You can break it down into a couple of specific days, focusing on slow-paced running with elevation gain one day and a faster paced run on a smooth trail. This will help your leg efficiency and turnover, and during your ultramarathon, it’s best if you feel comfortable running flat stretches of road at a faster pace.
Do your research
Train according to the course you’ll be running. Taking part in the Barkley Marathons? Study the race course and the types of terrain you’ll be running on, being careful to incorporate them into your training. Make sure to include anything that may feel particularly difficult, such as acclimating to heat, downhill running or steep inclines in your training.
Learn from your mistakes
Even with a solid training plan, excellent nutrition plan and a solid race plan, you may not enjoy the race, or perform as well as you expected. Use your first ultramarathon as a teaching moment, and learn from any mistakes you feel you made.