8 Tips for Training for your first Ultramarathon
Some great, straight-forward tips on training for your first Ultramarathon by Team KMC's one and only Charlotte Clarke!
First off, what is an ultramarathon? My Dad messaged me calling it my 'Super Marathon' and honestly that's all I want to call it now! An ultramarathon is any distance beyond that of a standard 26.2 mile marathon. Mine is 50km/ 31 miles so around 5 miles more than a standard marathon.
If, like me, you decided an Ultramarathon seems like a good thing to do, I've got a few tips below for starting out.
1. Know your body
If you have or have had any health conditions, always seek medical and professional help before committing to an event like this. You are going to be asking a lot from your body and we want to keep it in tip top condition.
2. Use the advice available
If you don't know where to start with training, hire a coach and take the pressure off yourself. If hiring a coach seems like too much of a commitment to begin with, some events have some example running plans available to download. The perks of having a coach is that they know what they're talking about, your plan is bespoke and there's always someone to check in with.
3. Make sure to fuel properly
Don't be scared of eating. You're going to be asking a lot of your body and covering some serious ground. Your goal should be around being able to complete the distances you're asking your body to do, if you aren't eating enough those long runs are not going to be fun! You also increase your risk of injury if you're not fueling yourself adequately. In terms of supplementation, I use the KMC ISO MIX pre-run. I take a couple of Citrus mint gels for during a long run (distance depending) and then I take the KMC PRO MIX post training. It'll take a little bit of trial and error to find what works for you but you will find your groove.
4. Connect with like-minded people
Have a look at other people who have taken on similar events to you and connect with them on social media. I'm loving the online running community.
5. Make sure to find the right kit
There is no single perfect running shoe. You might have a different shoe for shorter runs than longer runs and my ideal shoe might be different to yours. Find a shoe that works for you, don't just buy a shoe because you know someone with that model. What sort of ground is your ultra going to be on? If you're just training by road running but your ultra is trail…. Those shoes aren't likely to be perfect for both. On that note, if your ultra is going to be trail… you're going to want to fit some trail runs into your training.
6. Be flexible... kinda
Be flexible. I don't mean bendy. I mean with your training, work your training around your life, not your life around your training. If you feel any injuries or pains, don't just plough though. Take time out to heal, then ease yourself back in.
7. Enjoy yourself!
My biggest tip would be, make sure you're enjoying yourself. Training for an event like this is going to take some time and effort, you don't want to be miserable through it all!
8. Don't judge your training based on your Strava friends
Finally… try not to compare yourself to everyone you see on the internet. When you're training for distance, especially for the first time, you're going to want to leave your speed ego at home. There will be people trying to smash their 5km pb and you're out doing relaxed 5kms as accessory runs, you don't want to be running them at pb race pace. Your goals are different so don't give in to the strava trophy case. It's hard but trust the process.
I am currently less than 3 months out from my 50km race…. Send all the good vibes for it to go ahead! If I'm honest, even with all of the uncertainty of lockdown, training for such a huge event has given me real focus and purpose. Sure, the distance is still intimidating but that's the joy of training, we chip away until we're there.