Often marathons are thought of as the pinnacle of human endurance and fitness. The perception is that if you can a marathon, you must be really fit and healthy. But, as marathons become more popular, they lose the wow factor. Because even though it is a tough distance, more and more people are doing them each year. Now, serious runners attempt ultramarathons instead. Technically, any race longer than 26.2-miles is an ultramarathon, but, most ultramarathons are at least 30 miles long. Some of the premier ultramarathons test competitors on a 100-mile course! Now, this may seem impossible to many, but ultramarathons are easier than you think! Keep reading to find out how you can complete one.
Most ultramarathons take place in vast, rural areas. Many courses will take you through mountains and valleys or national parks. Therefore, it is imperative that you get used to trail running before attempting an ultramarathon. However, this is also part of the reason, the ultramarathons are so popular. The stunning scenery and gorgeous viewpoints throughout the course help inspire runners to keep going. It also helps distract runners from the discomfort and exhaustion they may experience during the race. Runners can simply focus on hitting the next viewpoint or marker while enjoying the scenery around them.
Ultramarathons are easier than many think due to the pace. As the distance is much longer, each mile is run slower to conserve energy and ensure your heart rate is in a safe range. Walking is also an important part of ultramarathons. Even the top ultramarathon runners say they walk around 30-40% of each ultra they run. Walking up steeper hills can conserve energy and decrease the chances of injury. Additionally, walking in some of the first half allows you to have the energy for a final push towards the end. A fast hike up a steep hill can be just as fast as running but without as much exertion.
Completing an ultramarathon is a test of mental and physical strength. After all, you will be running for hours upon hours. The long hours combined with tired muscles is what makes this difficult for many people. However, by utilizing your support team in crucial areas of the race, you can keep yourself motivated and get through those rough moments. Most runners struggle at the halfway point, as they begin to doubt themselves. Find a way to keep yourself motivated, whether it's hitting the next checkpoint or seeing your support time at the next mile. Having a positive mindset is crucial to hitting that finish line.
When completing an ultramarathon, you will consume a lot more food than in a normal marathon. Keep in mind these foods need to be easy to consume, fast-absorbing, and easy on your stomach. This can require a lot of training, as eating several times throughout a run can be difficult on the stomach. While training for your ultramarathon, test different foods to see how you react. This will allow you to pack the best fuel for your body during the race. Many runners prefer to consume all their necessary calories through liquids, like nutritional beverages and soup. However, some prefer sandwiches, fruit, and nutrition bars. Find out what works best for your body before attempting the race.
While the plentiful snacks, slower pace, and picturesque views will encourage runners to give an ultramarathon a go, they must not forget to train for it properly. The mileage involved is daunting, thus training for it is key. With enough time and walking, most marathon runners probably could finish an ultramarathon. However, they may injure themselves badly in the process. To avoid injury and ensure your health doesn’t suffer, create a training plan. Keep building your long runs up until you are ready for your ultramarathon. Keep in mind to practice on trails with changes in terrain, and elevation.
While a 100-mile run may sound impossible right now, if you put in the effort of training, you’ll find that completing an ultramarathon is easier than you think. Consider starting your ultramarathon journey with a 30 or 42-mile course before attempting any of the 100-mile races.