Ultramarathon Running

Discover the Key to Successful Ultramarathon Running

One of the most frequently asked questions regarding my ultramarathon running is why I chose arguably the most extreme races, such as the Marathon des Sables, the 12-hour-run in Brugg or lately the Swiss Jura Marathon so early in my ultra marathon running career, rather than build up slowly using numerous, less strenous ultramarathon races as preparation.

The answer is simple to me...

As with games like Rugby or Squash, you don’t race ultra marathons to train. That’s why they are called ULTRA!

Whether it’s a 50km trail race or a 7 day stage race, you have to train specifically for each and every race, and be as best prepared that you can possibly be.

Every time. No exceptions.

Otherwise you risk frequent injury, disillusionment and underachievement. This isn’t just an issue of speed or tempo, but an issue of common sense.

Luckily with the technological tools at our fingertips, there is no excuse nowadays for athletes to enter races without having done sufficient research in order to maximise their chances of a successful step up in race distances, such as marathons beyond 42,195 kilometres, or terrain.

ultramarathon, distance runners

So, what defines a successful ultrarunner?

The key to running a successful ultramarathon, or ultra trail running race is in building the appropriate strength and resilience through a dedicated and structured training regime.

The majority of people who assume running 100 marathons is sufficient to make the step up to the ultra distance may find that their hit and miss approach to training, racing and race nutrition doesn't translate well into completing ultra distance races successfully.

As the distances increase, there are fewer places to hide and less chance that lady luck will help you out.

It is true an endurance athlete may ‘mature’ into reaching their full potential after a number of events. In ultra distance running this may mean many years!

However, a large portion of the improvement is not just down to accumulated conditioning, rather through improvements to their preparation, recovery, pre and in-race nutrition and especially pacing.

Ultra distance running is unique in its requirements in these respects.

Whilst we can use our experience from the ultra distance stage race to improve race nutrition etc, we must research and plan each race and establish a strategy for all aspects.

This includes pacing depending on distance, terrain etc, race & recovery nutrition, race equipment, clothing and especially recovery clothing.

If you are one of the many people looking to step up in distance or one who can’t understand why their reasonable marathon ability hasn’t yet manifested itself into a reasonable ultra distance performance, you must also be prepared to leave behind some of the things you held on to for so long.

Especially non specific generalised training and equipment, including that ‘lucky’ Northwest Nowhere cotton finishers T-shirt you love to race in so much, or that ‘recovery’ beer just after the finish.

The key is really simple: Thorough research and clearly defined strategies can short-cut years of underachievement on your journey to your first successful ultramarathon.

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