“I really believe in the idea of stair-stepping up to the ultra distance,” says Umstead 100 Race Director Blake Norwood, “otherwise, you’re just asking your body and your mind to do too much too soon.” And if you expect you’ll walk during that ultra – and you should – now’s the time to practice incorporating it into your long runs. “The training regimen (for the ultra) really isn’t all that different than the marathon, other than you’re extending the length of that long run.”
Will your ultra be hilly, rocky or twisted singletrack? Every trail is different, so to try to mimic the course on your long training runs. “For every ultra I sign up for I design my long runs to be as close to what I'm going to see come race day,” says former U.S. 50 Mile Champ Mark Lundblad. “Study the race website, look at the topography profiles, maps, race reports, and ask others who have run the course what it is like… on race day you will (have) the mental boost knowing that you trained for this day on the same type of surface and terrain.”
“It’s hard to stay focused on eating consistently when you’re on the trails,” says coach Melinda Yelton, “it’s partly due to watching the trails so intently and partly because of using your hands and arms for balance.” Stomach issues rather than muscle fatigue are the most likely source of ultra DNF’s. Practice eating and drinking during your long runs. “If you fall or stumble, make sure to take in some calories since the brain is the first to get foggy or fatigue when the body is low on energy.”
Rest and Recovery:
Former Montrail Team runner Mike Mason goes to bed before the street lights come on – almost. Training for an ultra takes more than just time out of you. You’ll need to recover completely from long runs and back-to-back weekend runs. If you feel tired, you probably are. Add some extra rest days to your training week until you feel you have recovered completely.
Blisters, chafing, tummy troubles and more. You’ll experience them all training for your ultra. Now’s the time to experiment with what works – and what doesn’t. Ask other ultra runners how they’ve dealt with adversity and setbacks and make like a Boy Scout and be prepared for anything.
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