Important factors to consider before training for an ultra.
As with any adventure or goal, preparation is key to help you succeed and enjoy the journey along the way!
If you’re thinking about training for an ultra, here are five helpful tips to get you prepared:
1. Pick Your Goal Race
Do some research and figure out what ultra appeals to you. Are you looking for something flat? Do you prefer trails? Do you love climbing or do you cringe at the idea of huge elevation gains?
What about the weather or season? Do you prefer running in the summer heat or layering up for a late fall/winter?
Determining these factors will help you better understand the terrain and weather conditions to perhaps consider when choosing your race. Once you decide on your race, understanding the race conditions will enable you to tailor your training plan to try and mimic those conditions.
2. Know Your Why
I can’t stress this enough. Figuring out what is motivating you to set that particular goal will help you on the tough training days. Do your best to be specific on what you hope the end result to be. Are you aiming to podium or is your goal to challenge yourself in a new way. Perhaps you are more excited about experiencing a new place on foot.
3. Make a Plan
Picking your goal race lets you work backwards on the calendar to know how much time you have for training. Next, decide if you are going to use an online training plan. There are number of great training plans online to help you complete your first 50K or 80K run. Or maybe you might want to hire a coach. Look for a coach who has experience with what you’re hoping to achieve. Have they succeeded at running long distances? Find someone who will take time to listen to you to better assist you in accomplishing your goal.
4. Create Success
Set yourself up for success by creating an environment of inspiration! Perhaps creating a vision board that you see everyday or a podcast library that will inspire you on your commute or a long training run. Change your desktop/phone background to an image of your goal. Keep motivational quotes in front of you. On social media follow inspiring people. Read books that will excite you and motivate you to keep chasing your dream. Start with this inspiring book Training For Ultra by Rob Steger.
5. Celebrate Small Victories
On your journey towards the end goal, take time to celebrate the hard work you are doing. Set smaller goals within the bigger goal to help you evaluate how you are doing. Don’t beat yourself up if you had a bad week. Learn from it, acknowledge how you felt and start again!
The first thing I would suggest to anyone who wants to be a distance runner is to have a solid running base. To do that you should create a habit of running a minimum of 4x a week, this consistency will allow you to build on that habit. Increasing your mileage on one of those runs is a good place to start.
Keep Chasing Your Dreams!