How To Train For An Ultramarathon

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How much training do you need to do?

It depends on the nature of the event you are doing – some ultras are 30 miles and flat, while others are several hundred miles through a mountain range or desert. The best tip is to speak to people that have done the same race before and learn from them. The single most important run of the week is the long run – to run far, you need to run far in training.

How should you split up your training?

Personally, I do two sessions of hard effort in the week – typically one hill sprints, and one 30-minute “eyeballs out”. On Saturday I usually do a long run which could be anything from 15 to 70 miles. I’ll take Sunday off completely.

I also do some strength work – press-ups, sit-ups and exercises to work the glutes, hamstrings and quads – twice a week. When not on recovery, long run or session days, I’ll just go for a “normal” run.

What’s the really crucial session?

That depends. If finishing is the goal, then the long run is easily the most important. If you are looking for a fast time, then the long runs and the sessions at high intensity are equally important.

How do you get faster?

It’s pretty simple. Eat like a champion, sleep like a champion, and run faster twice a week in training.

Where do most people go wrong?

Many people think that fancy gadgets and training tricks are the answer. There’s really no substitute for doing the training that’s in your plan – put the alarm clock on the other side of your bedroom if you need to. The other big problem is that many people don’t get enough sleep – seven hours plus, at least six days a week, is the minimum – or eat sub-optimally. Look at the Kenyan and Ethiopian runners – they do the basics incredibly well. Eat well. Train. Sleep.

What do elite runners do that everyone can learn from?

Do the simple things well. Don’t get distracted. And don’t make excuses. Elite runners are relentless. They get the training done, and that helps on race day.