Forget a half marathon, and as we know, marathon training isn’t for beginners…but when we start looking at becoming an ultra marathon ultra runner, then that’s a whole new ‘kettle of fish’
Marathon training doesn’t just take a few weeks. But I’m guessing that considering you’re reading about ultra marathons, you already knew that.
So you’re a semi-pro, looking to up your game.
Thankfully, if you came for tips and tricks, schedule advice and direction, then you’ve come to the right place. But of course, you know a lot, so, let me break down some of the differences that ultra marathon training can present, even if it’s more to do with volume than strategy.
When it comes to race day, we all want to be in the best shape. The harder the race, the more work we have to do, and that counts for both mental and physical exertion. So if you’re mental game is intact (hey, it’s 2022 why wouldn’t it be…?), then it’s time to look at the physical.
Let’s touch on it now.
Running up that hill
It’s a classic. And one that I’m certain you will have harnessed before reading the title. But in reality, when we’re training for something that requires superior strength, endurance and the most resistance we’ve ever encountered… we need to do the hard stuff.
Training hard with hill sprints helps with aerobic capacity, endurance acclimatising, muscle strength, anaerobic development and more, so take advantage of these training runs to compete with what most ultra runners are including in their workouts.
Wikihow recommends running ”Once a week or bi-weekly, run for 1⁄2 mile (0.80 km) up a gradual hill at 90% of your maximum effort, recover in your run back down the hill, and repeat this until you have run for 1 hour.”
Speed interval training
Ultra training, ultra race day, ultra-challenging… again, we need to up our game. Provided you’ve got the basics down, like diet and rest (which you definitely should at this point), then you should harness exercises like this more regularly.
As you may know, interval training pushes your threshold. That is, the threshold at which your average pace is determined.
If you want to smash your first ultra-marathon, then you could use these with 30-second sprint times with 1-2 minutes worth of rest. Or you could run at 90% for a minute with 3 minutes of walking or jogging in between.
Focussing on the more intense side of working out is obviously a good way to grow quicker. But long runs at a slower pace, good rest times, eating right and injury prevention are just as important.
If you want to reach that finish line, and a long race is filled with big challenges, then you’ll need to run your own race a thousand times before; competing against yourself to understand where you should grow is essential.
Will there be aid stations at my race?
Most likely, ultra marathons are risk-probable, and aid is often needed with a number of runners.