Ultra Marathon Training
Top Training Tips For Ultra Running
1. Strength & Fitness Training
Ultra Marathon training will require less interval training than other races. Aerobic running is what an ultra is made of. Some speed training will be necessary of course. But mostly you should be doing low-impact cross- and strength training like hiking and cycling that will double as a help against running injuries. And it’ll make ultra marathon preparation more enjoyable.
2. Back-to-back training
Being able to run on tired legs is the key to Ultra Marathon training. You’ll be physically and mentally capable if you’ve practiced it beforehand. Running two long runs back-to-back once a week is the key. Which means that either you run morning and afternoon or on two-days running (probably the weekend). Split up in whatever way a distance to achieve over the two runs and try and manage the whole thing. Aim to do the full distance over 2 days 6–8 weeks before the event and forget about timing it.
3. Know the course
Knowing the course, the kind of terrain you’ll encounter, where the aid stations are placed and even the weather forecasts can help you train for your ultra marathon. You can practice it in the likely conditions and even cut up your training runs into achievable segments in the same way as you would on race day. You’ll never be sorry for over-preparing.
4. Terrain training
Most ultra marathons will have softer trail terrain that is better for our bodies than road-running. But the uneven trails have their own dangers and you’ll need to train on them as well. Aside from injury prevention though there is also the fact of just a different running experience. Accommodating for trail hills in training will be a key part of any ultra plan.
Hiking is a good place to start with uphill training. You can build up stamina that way. Knowing that you can go as slowly as you like makes the training a little more bearable. Take small and sharp strides uphill — don’t make your life harder by taking long and lunging ones.
Going downhill the wrong way can wreck your knees and legs. Working on shifting your body forward, and making short and fast strides with a flexed knee and loose arms is key. It also definitely requires strength and conditioning training and core body fitness training so don’t neglect those either.
5. Gear Testing
It’s not the first time you’ve heard it, but trying out your gear, in the right environments & on the right terrains is a must-do in ultra marathon training. Avoid chafing, avoid rubbing, avoid discomfort generally by trying it all out. Break in everything you plan to wear on race day. Shoes, socks, clothes, race pack, energy gels, electrolytes, race day meals and snacks. All of it should be well practiced and you should be comfortable with it beforehand. Buy spares of your gear so that you aren’t caught out by production stops.
6. Hydration and Running Nutrition
Aside from testing all your race day foods during training, your body should be in the best possible shape before you start your ultra marathon. Ultra running is too long to rely on one good meal the night before and drink day of. You should be eating and hydrating well for as long as you can beforehand — definitely a week of good water consumption will make all the difference.
For more info on Running Nutrition guide see What To Eat Before A Run
7. Event preparation
Get there early. Scope out where it is the day before. It’s not worth turning up late or stressed. Make everything as easy as possible for you, so don’t leave things up to chance. Have a running plan based on the course. Know how you’re going to segment up the course mentally and possibly physically (walking is fine sometimes) will hopefully help you realise that the whole ultra is achievable.
8. Keep training.
Just remember. You signed up for an ultra marathon for a reason. Remember that with any mantra you may need to keep up your running motivation. It will take a long time — but by the time you’re in the swing of things running training will be part of your life. You’ll love and hate it. But it’s all worth it for the achievement.