How to prepare for your first Ultramarathon

-Sharyn O’Halloran 

Preparing for an ultramarathon takes time and dedication, especially if the race will be a runner’s first ultramarathon.

  1. The turtle wins the race: Slowly increase distance

Increasing running distance is an important part of training for an ultramarathon. While experienced marathoners may already be familiar with longer runs, new runners will need to gradually work their way up. Completing the full race length three to four times before the actual race is also important. Instead of doing the full length in a single day, however, it is best to complete two back-to-back long runs that add up to the total time. This gives runners a basic idea of where they need to improve without fully exhausting the body and mind.

2. Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink: Hydrate often

Since ultramarathons are so long, runners must learn to keep themselves comfortable and hydrated during the run. Although there are aid stations set up along ultramarathon courses, they may not be interspersed enough throughout the course for runners to stay strong. Bringing a hydration pack can be extremely helpful.

3. You are what you eat: Plan for your nutritional needs

Further, runners may place drop bags along the race that contain food and other nutrition items, and they should practice going through these packs quickly and efficiently to ensure valuable time is not wasted.

4. Clothes make the runner:  Comfort is key

Certain clothing items may not be as comfortable during the longer run, so testing out different garments while training can be helpful. Make sure the material is soft and fitted to prevent chaffing.  Layers are best in cold weather running.

5. A little grease makes the world go round: Minimize chafing

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of long distance running, especially for women, is that chafing is common.  To prevent chafing, I recommend using a petroleum based ointment that includes healing agents, such as vitamins A, D and E.  Areas of skin which may be subject to friction while running, as a result of skin to skin, skin to water or other contact, can benefit from using a thicker types of chafing ointment.  Of course, always check with your doctor for any potential allergies or side effects before use.

 

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