Ultra Running – Seven tips for getting started!
1) Be bold but realistic.
It’s true, you really can do anything you put your mind too but it’s also true that big goals take time and commitment.
Let’s say your goal is to run 100 miles, great! Now try to create a realistic journey to get there, start with a 50k and build up gradually, 50 milers and 100ks are good bench marks to prepare your mind and body for the enormous challenge ahead.
It took me four years before I felt ready to take on 100 miles and this was probably still too soon if two sprained ankles were anything to go by!
Of course winging it is an option but it’s not pretty and doesn’t usually end well. I much prefer to avoid the suffer fest and start a race with a really strong training block in my legs and with the confidence to race well and finish strong in my mind.
2) Choose a training plan that works for you.
Training is the best tool you have but there’s no generic training plan that works for everyone. Training should be both challenging and enjoyable but most importantly attainable so that you’ll be more inclined to stick to it.
For me, I prefer to maintain a general level of fitness throughout the year and then use 6 – 16 week training blocks specific to each race. I find my legs get fatigued if I continue to run long distance all year around, whereas race specific training blocks offer me fresh goals and renewed motivation.
Don’t be afraid to look for assistance, an experienced ultra running coach can tailor a plan to suit your lifestyle and you can draw on their wealth of knowledge, expertise and support. They’ll also hold you accountable!
3) Fall in love with the process.
Of course it’s important to have goals but don’t obsess over them.
Even during peak training, I’ll switch off the gadgets and enjoy some runs where times and distances are irrelevant. When you fall in love with the process and focus on the here and now, the journey to reach goals will become so much easier.
4) Run to feel.
Good, consistent training will naturally improve your overall speed so stop stressing about pace. This is especially true if you’re out on the trails, my speed can vary by around 90 seconds per mile, depending on the terrain.
I run all of my long training runs and races to feel. It’s a no brainer that if I’m comfortable I’m going to perform better and I personally find this is the best way to build my endurance.
5) Take pictures, get creative.
It gives a reason to explore and get creative with your routes. What time will the sunset and where’s the best hill to watch it?
Where can I find cherry blossoms, poppy fields, boat wrecks?
I find it helps keep my mind occupied during those longer runs and also makes a nice little recovery break if I need it!
6) Stop Comparing.
Comparison is the thief of joy! It’s important to remember that this is YOUR journey, your training, your way so don’t worry about what everyone else is doing and find what works for you.
My focus is 100% on myself and the task in hand. I strive to be the very best that I can be and I’m happy and confident in my ability.
7) Praise Yourself
Your body is incredible, remember to tell it so. Self love and self respect will become your greatest gift during those dark hours!