If you read yesterday's article, you now know what an ultramarathon is AND isn't. Here are some nitty gritty training tips. #1) Adapt. Every body is different. What works for one person, may not work for you. Some ultra runners run really high miles (85-140miles/week). Others run 25-50miles/week. Depending what distance ultra you are training for, depends what your weekly mileage is. For a 50k, it probably won't be much more then training for a marathon. Maybe a longer run of 22 or 23 miles. For a 50miler, 100k, or a 100 miler, probably the main thing to remember is this: time on your feet. You could be on your feet anywhere from 8 hours to 36 hours. That's a lot of time! For the majority of you (myself included) you won't be running the ENTIRE time. That's when you walk. Rule of thumb is to walk the hills. Become a great walker. Seriously. When I ran my 100 miler, I believe one of the keys to my finishing was that I knew how to walk. It may sound less than inspiring, but trust me, it will pay off in the end. Also, remember, "time on your feet". For a long training run of 28-36 miles, make sure you include some walking time. If it is a lot of hills, you shouldn't have a problem with that:)
#2) Not just running! It's important to have strong legs, butt and core - no matter the distance you are training for. Incorporate one leg squats, reverse lunges, butt kicks, and walking lunges in to your training. Bridges are also a great exercise. Try them on a ball, take it to the edge and use one leg at a time. Plank and side plank are really great (and body shaking) core exercises. The key is not to stick your butt in the air, but to keep your neck and back in the same line. Don't let your hips sag!
#3) Balance Baby! Running on trails will quickly test your balance, or lack thereof. You can't always prevent a fall, but you can prepare for one. Yoga poses are really good for balance. One of my favorite poses is table top and extending opposite arm and leg. Hold for 3o seconds. Then switch. Tree pose, Eagle, Warrior Three and Boat are all great for core AND balance.
#4) Nutrition. Nutrition. Nutrition. If you don't get it by now, nutrition is key. Use your training runs to test out what GU, Gel, Shot Blocks, liquid, solid food works for YOUR body. Remember what works for your training buddy, may not work for you. One thing you don't want to do is finding out on race day what DOESN'T work for you.
#5) Be Flexible. Be Patient. Be Smart. Did you just start running? Ran your first marathon and you are hooked? That's great! But a word of caution. Going from running 26.2 miles to 31 miles, 50 miles, 62 miles, or 100 miles is no joke. It is a long freaking day(s). I believe the more running years you have, the better. Your body has adapted to running over a period of time and "gets it". If you start going after the longer distance to soon, your body may react by getting injured, fatigued, or tired. Run a few marathons, then start entertaining the idea of an ultra.
#6) Commitment. If you think training for 26.2 miles is time consuming, try training for an ultra. If you have family, make sure it is okay with them. Long runs will take up a good portion of your weekend. It will require dedication. It may mean getting up at 3am to run 30miles before 9am so you can take your son to soccer practice. It means getting a good night of sleep. If you typically go out on Friday/Saturday night, you should probably reconsider.
An ultramarathon is more then checking your sanity at the door, it's about running smart for a freaking LONG time.
Stay tuned for part 3 . I'll cover gear and training/coaching.
Part 4 will cover nutrition (during race as well as pre/post race).
Part 5 Q & A (send yours to me: sarah [at] sarahstanleyinspired [dot] com
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Photo by wanderingYew2