Ideas for Your First Ultramarathon Path Race


trails runners on the trail

Signing up for an extremely can really feel like getting into the realm of the uber achiever. Ultrarunners will let you know, although, that you’re actually becoming a member of a unprecedented group of individuals: that an extremely is extra a celebration of operating than a contest.

That’s to not say that you simply’re not signing up for a bodily check. Ultrarunners can even let you know that the flexibility to beat struggling, and even to embrace it, can produce a state of ultra-euphoria not achievable by runners of lesser distances. For many ultrarunners, to complete is to triumph.

In case you’re able to embrace that problem, this text provides you with ideas for:

  • Selecting your first extremely trail-running occasion
  • Vitamin and hydration planning
  • Pre-race steps, together with each bodily and psychological preparation
  • Race-day methods and ideas

Kinds of Ultras

two trail runners on the trail, viewed from above

By definition, an ultramarathon is any race longer than a marathon (26.2 miles). Ultras are available all kinds of flavors, with races listed in kilometers, miles or hours. Examples embrace 50Okay, 100Okay, 50-mile, 100-mile, 6 hours (finisher distances can vary from 25 to 50 miles), 12 hours and extra. You too can discover multiday ultras.

Distances aren’t standardized both: You may discover a 55ok occasion or a 32-mile occasion, for instance. And a single occasion will usually supply programs of various distances.


Selecting Your First Extremely

Path operating’s surging recognition has spilled over to the extremely world, that means you might have an abundance of choices. As you think about your selections, preserve the next in thoughts:

Begin with a 50Okay (31.2 miles): Although solely barely longer than a marathon, these 5 additional miles could be a beast. “The wall” nonetheless looms for a lot of at about 20 miles, that means you may need to summon your superpowers to finish a double-digit (11-mile) grind to the end line. After you full a 50Okay, then you can begin to dream about longer distances.

Determine if you wish to go legendary or native: Iconic races like Wisconsin’s Ice Age 50, Wyoming’s Massive Horn Path Race and California’s Tahoe Rim Path Endurance Runs promote out quick, but additionally supply top-notch group and a festival-like ambiance. Native occasions supply extra attainable entries and a welcoming, low-key vibe.

Take into consideration making it a trip, too: That’s a straightforward name should you’re touring to a spectacular setting. These races are prone to promote out rapidly, too, so enroll early. Then think about the timing of the occasion. Most individuals schedule the race close to the beginning of a visit to permit restoration time afterward. If it’s essential to acclimate to excessive altitude or warmth, although, then you definately’ll have to schedule the race nearer to the top of your journey.

Take into account tenting or lodging particulars: Many path ultras are in distant areas, so that you’ll want to rearrange for close by tenting or lodging. If it’s a well-liked occasion, e-book a web site or room effectively upfront to make sure you get a spot. Most races begin early within the morning, so staying as shut as potential is fascinating.

Enable enough coaching time: For a 50Okay race, it’s essential to practice for about 4 months. Observe no matter coaching routine works for you. One possibility is our 16-week coaching plan for a path marathon: Observe it, repeating week 12, to create a 17-week 50Okay coaching calendar.


The place to Discover a Path-Operating Race:

Native operating golf equipment lessons and shops: These can give you each race suggestions and coaching help. Your native fitnessinf retailer is a superb place to start out.

On-line sources: A rising variety of web sites have searchable race calendars. Take a look at each basic operating websites and trail-running websites.

Vitamin and Hydration Plan

a trail runner placing some running gel in their pocket for the trail

If you’re operating ultra-long distances, you must be as involved together with your vitamin and hydration as you might be together with your bodily coaching. Try to be fine-tuning your vitamin and hydration plan all through your coaching schedule. Beneath are some fundamental tips, together with hyperlinks to articles for extra particulars.

  • Pre-hydrate: Drink 17–20 fl. oz. about two hours earlier than you run so that you’ll begin off correctly hydrated.
  • Keep hydration: Drink about 5–10 fl. oz. (or just a few good lengthy drinks) of water each 15–20 minutes whereas operating.
  • Pre-fuel: Have a light-weight meal at the least an hour or two earlier than the race. You don’t need to arrive at first hungry, or to expend power to digest issues which are excessive in fats or fiber throughout the race.
  • Eat up: For extremely runs, it is best to eat 200–300 energy (largely from carbohydrates) per hour whereas operating.

The above are tough tips: For extra particulars about how wants differ for various folks and completely different situations, learn our Hydration Fundamentals for Path Operating article and Vitamin Fundamentals for Path Operating article.

Think about particulars in regards to the assist stations

You possibly can run with much less weight if you’re OK with what the race organizer supplies. Even so, it’s essential to consider what number of stations the race has and the way far aside they’re. Assist stations generally run out of issues, too, so carry sufficient meals and water to skip an assist cease if it’s essential to.

Pre-Race Steps

In case you’ve been path operating for some time, particularly at longer distances, your gear setup ought to work nice for a 50Okay race. You possibly can set your self up for achievement, although, by taking just a few pre-race steps:

Test the occasion web site forward of time to reply all your questions. You don’t need any surprises come race day.

Examine the course particulars. It is advisable to know the place you’ll be going and which sections is perhaps mentally or bodily difficult. Additionally verify to see if there are any particular guidelines on your race.

a sample elevation graph for a trail run event

Plan to run by effort, not tempo. Elements like elevation profiles, path situations, climate and altitude could make races of the identical distance dramatically completely different by way of issue. Runners who concentrate on tempo, not coronary heart charge, set themselves up for early burnout.

Attempt to make your long-run coaching days mimic your race day. You possibly can’t simulate all of the pomp and circumstance, however you possibly can match your deliberate operating tempo, what and if you eat, in addition to the time you begin. Race day will go smoother if it feels acquainted.

Take a look at the climate forecast. Then deliver acceptable layers.

Lay out your gear the evening earlier than. On race day, you possibly can simply seize and go. Embrace a map and compass, too, as a result of racers can and do stray off beam.

Customise your first-aid equipment. Whether or not it’s a selected model of anti-chafing cream or some prescription drugs, plan to be your individual first responder.

Determine the way you’ll connect your race quantity. Many race belts, in addition to hydration vests and packs, have an attachment system. Security pins additionally work.

Test batteries in your health system. Utilizing a tracker or GPS watch can assist you forestall race-day adrenaline from turbocharging your tempo so that you simply bonk midway by the occasion. You need each your batteries and your physique to final.

Decide up your race packet early. Why wait till the day of the race? That merely provides another complication to the Massive Day.

Two nights earlier than, get evening of sleep. Most runners are too amped as much as sleep effectively the evening earlier than, so that is your greatest likelihood to get high quality sleep.

Be sure your toenails are clipped. Why inflict injury upon your self?

Race-Day Ideas

two trail runners on the trail

After all of the coaching and prep work, that is your second. Embrace it. The ideas beneath ought to make issues run extra easily:

Arrive early. Plan for a compulsory pre-race assembly or timing-chip pickup (in case your race requires both one). Give your self sufficient time to beat unanticipated site visitors snarls.

Ease into the race. Loosen up and settle into a cushty spot within the pack. Resist the urge to exceed your coaching tempo. Some ultrarunners additionally advocate backing off barely in your effort degree, particularly at first, as a result of you might have a lengthy method to go.

Be at liberty to run with somebody: It’s frequent for runners to buddy up with different rivals, generally even chatting as you run. It’s the communal ethos of an extremely.

Be proactive in fixing issues: Cease and cope with issues like blisters and chafing immediately. In a race this lengthy, pushing by ache is a recipe for not ending. If a muscle is sore, cease and stretch.

And be keen to decelerate and stroll—in uphill sections to provide your self a break and in gnarly downhill sections to stop a severe tumble. Linger at assist stations to eat gasoline and relaxation, then begin slowly as you ease again into the race.

Give attention to staying on track, and be prepared to show round. Wayfinding will be tough, particularly in races with a number of distances. Sections are sometimes shared, so it’s straightforward to by chance comply with somebody who’s on a special course.

Preserve a detailed eye in your course’s markers. And should you ever come to a junction that lacks your course marker, flip round and run again to the earlier junction since you’ve nearly definitely made a fallacious flip there.


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