Picture the scene – you’re at your desk at the office, a bit bored on a Tuesday afternoon. You’ve been running on and off for a few years, and even have a couple of half marathons under your belt. You’ve reached a certain level of fitness. But you’re frustrated at the lack of opportunity to test the real physical and mental limits of today’s amateur athletes.
Then you see the article on your screen – “Ultramarathoning – test your mettle with the Ultimate challenge.” You’re suddenly inspired!
Ultramarathoning is a running race longer than 26 miles, but often as far as 50 miles (or longer) – It is the ultimate test of endurance, both physical and mental. We all know they’re tough, but how do you best prepare so you don’t collapse or burn out at mile 30?
We’ve assembled this list of 8 top tips for succeeding in the world of Ultra.
Peruse our tips, take from them what you need, and good luck!
- 1) Assess your risk – Ultramarathoning is not for the beginner, or for the faint-hearted. If you have just started running, this is not for you (yet). If you’ve have just come out of an injury-prone period, then steer clear. Virtually all Ultra-runners have run multiple marathons before attempting an Ultra. Use that as your guide.
- 3) Check the weather days before – You need to know what sort of conditions you are going to experience on the day. The weather forecast will help to decide what sort of footwear you need, if going cross-country for example. Obviously if you are running a race like the Sahara Ultra, then you will need to prepare weather wise less!
- 4) Stay hydrated – Sounds obvious, but the medics at Ultramarathoning events will attest to the hundreds of dehydrated runners they see in an average season. The tip to staying hydrated is to drink even when you are not thirsty – by that time it is too late and the body has already lost moisture.
- 5) Take breaks – It doesn’t mean you’re a quitter if you slow down to a walk temporarily, or even stop and sit for a time altogether. It shows you’re sensible and know how to conserve your energy, to enable you to effectively tackle the race further on.
- 6) Take food in a backpack – And not just gels – try fruit and seeds, too, to give you an energy and psychology boost. Make sure you do the traditional carb-loading prior to the race too. This will give you the necessary energy to properly attempt the journey.
- 7 ) Stretch properly before the race – This is even more important for Ultra running than for standard races or practice runs. On an Ultra, your body will be going through a rigorous challenge, and sometimes even the biggest test of its life. So you need to prepare adequately. See this warm up routine for guidance.
- 8) Enjoy it! – Remember that the ultimate reason you should be running an Ultra is to get the buzz, the runner’s high that we all love. If you’re not getting that feel-good feeling at least some of the time, you need to look more intently at your training, and your approach in general. Maybe running this race, now, at this time is not right for you.
You should remember to celebrate your achievements – just getting to the starting line of an Ultramarathon is a victory for many people. Just having the guts to attempt one is a sign of real character.
So get out there, take on the Ultra, and smash your goals!