Trail running

How to run an ultramarathon

Tips and tricks to completing an ultramarathon.

1. Start very, very slowly

You will have to go slower than you do in any other running event you are used to. It’s just how it has to be if you want the best chance at finishing, particularly if it’s your first one. That’s even if it is the shortest Ultra (the 50k). Better to start slowly and speed up than collapse later on. Take in the view while you’re at it.

2. Let yourself be overtaken

An Ultra Marathon is, for most people, not really a race. You probably don’t have the energy to be really competitive with others — and definitely not at the start unless you’re really used to ultra running. Chances are you’ll catch up with them later anyway.

3. Walk if you need

Walking is fine. 50k is definitely, long enough that you’re forgiven if you do. If there’s a steep hill — especially in the first half — think about whether it’s worth giving it your all or conserving your energy.

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3. Make Friends

You have a long time running. Even with changing scenery it can get boring. Chat to other runners — you’re running at the right pace for it. You’ll have an amazing feeling of community and achievement. Plus if you’re going for an ultra, you’ll likely have quite a lot in common.

4. Eat (and drink) throughout, even at the end

Try and eat as often as every half an hour. Your body might tell you it doesn’t need any more food. So long as you aren’t stuffing yourself (pretty tricky whilst running) then follow a religious eating plan throughout. When you are nearing the end it is easy to think you don’t need more food, energy, or water. But the worst thing would be to crash before the finish line. Even if you make it, you don’t want your achievement ruined by a massive energy low.

5. Think about your race pack

You’ll have a race pack. You can never be too over-prepared with how you prepare it. Practicing in training is of course key. Thinking about whether you want a water bladder in your backpack or a bottle to hold is important. Knowing what environment you’ll be running in is as well. You don’t want to carry too much, but you also don’t want to carry too little. There is not necessarily a right or a wrong, but definitely don’t leave something without thinking about it first.

6. Work on getting to the next aid station

In your training, you should have looked up where all the aid stations are at. You’ll also have a good idea of the layout of the course. You can then break the run up, and, by giving yourself segments of the course as goals to work towards, find the running motivation you need.

7. Just keep going.

Mental toughness is it. If you don’t have mental stamina in an ultra marathon you’re in trouble. To do anything for probably at least 6 hours straight you need huge amounts of discipline — something that is physically gruelling and emotionally wearing requires even more. Make a mantra. Repeat it to yourself. Raise for a charity or tell your friends you’re running it. Do what you can that will give you the running motivation you need.

8. Enjoy it.

It’ll be pretty awesome. You’ll go to a cool place .You’ll do something amazing. Make sure not just that you do it then. Make sure you enjoy it too.

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