How to train for an ultra marathon

Man Running Outdoors

Using all that you can to train for the hardest event going – an ultra marathon

It’s called ultra for a reason – an ultra marathon demands a hell of a lot from runners. Technically, an ultramarathon is an event longer than a marathon. Most commonly, an ultramarathon distance is 50k, but 100k is growing in popularity as well. This translates to distances of about 31 miles and 62.1 miles. So, if that sounds gruelling.. well, then you just read it correctly.

So what can you do for this mega event, without becoming a fully-fledged gladiator?

Marathon training can be aided by so many things. On race day, you’ll have wanted to have stayed internal to your ultramarathon training plan, if you don’t, you might be a mile slower than last place…and that won’t feel good. Things like hill training, trail running, race distance matching, and strength training; classic means of training but ramped up to max.

So what exactly puts the ultra in training, and can I do this with an average pace in a few weeks?

Let’s find out.

Making a plan

You’ll want to build a base here. It requires a steady increase of mileage over time. It’s slow and a little painful, but if you’re patient, it will pay off. Marathon distance is one thing, if you’ve done one, you’ll obviously know the work you put into that, but if you’re going for ultra, you’ll need to be patient when it comes to growth.

So, with 6 months being the solid mark for training time (you can’t do it in a few weeks), you better get prepping now. It’s also recommended that an hour is a good base mark before you start training – that is… without stopping.

The two first months of training are to focus on the basics – building up that mileage, but incorporating hill training sessions as you progress is a great thing to do after those months. Additionally, strength training has to come into play too at about the 2-month mark, so get ready for that.

In essence, you want your base mileage to feel very easy, with a great idea of different terrains, eating schedules, and so on. This is before you get onto ultra mode, however.

Let’s look at a schedule

This schedule, provided by The Run Experience itself, is a great snapshot as to what your schedule will look like. Lap it up.

  • 6 Months From Race Day
    • One long run a week
    • Easy runs at a conservative, steady pace
    • Build up mileage gradually, never increasing by more than 10% per week
  • 4 months from Race Day
    • Continue with several easy runs and one long run per week
    • Add in one hill workout per week
    • Add in one speedwork run per week, either as a tempo run or interval workout
  • 2 months from Race Day
    • Add in trail runs if racing on a trail
    • Incorporate back-to-back long runs (more on that below!)
  • 7 to 14 Days before Race Day: Taper
    • Decrease your weekly mileage by 20% to 25% to recover and rest before race day
    • Decrease your long runs to the low teens
    • Make recovery a focus


There you have it, some nice tips and an idea of what to do. Always go deeper and use your knowledge already to enhance that schedule. It’s down to you at the end of the day, so if you’re well-researched, then by the end, you’ll know best.


What types of ‘pace’ are there when it comes to ultra running?

‘paces’ have many names when it comes to running, race pace, marathon pace, slower pace are all terms used.

What types of training do I need to become an Ultra Runner?

  • training runs – basic, intermediate, advanced
  • trail running training
  • race terrain training
  • strength training
  • ultra training

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