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What are the Best Tips for Ultramarathon Training?

Deanna Baranyi
Updated Jan 22, 2024
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Ultramarathon training is essential for people who want to run long distance races, called ultramarathons. Typically, an ultramarathon can be considered a run of any distance longer than a marathon, or longer than 26.2 miles (42.16 km). Well-balanced nutrition and a solid training plan are both essential to ultramarathon training. In addition, staying attuned to one’s body and training with the appropriate gear are also important parts of ultramarathon training.

Without good nutrition, most runners will not be able to complete the long distance runs associated with ultramarathons. A runner’s diet should consist of a variety of whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and bulgur. Runners should also eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Many long distance runners try to compose 60 percent of their diet of carbohydrates, 20 percent fats, and 20 percent protein. They may also try to limit their intake of salt, sugar, and alcohol.

Generally, a good ultramarathon training plan is key to completing a long distance race. These training plans can be found through race websites, running clubs, magazines, books, and Internet sources. Typically, a person training for an ultramarathon will run one long run, more than four hours long, each week as well as several shorter runs. As the training progresses, the distance of the long run and the shorter runs will increase.

Other ultramarathon training tips include running on hills and running with a friend. The hills are useful to increase a runner’s strength, while a friend may give moral support or encouragement during long runs. Occasionally, a runner may need to analyze her gait, to make sure she is not shuffling her feet as she runs. By perfecting one’s gait, injury may be avoided.

Listening to one’s body is one of the best tips for ultramarathon training. If a body part begins to ache, it is best to try to figure out why it is aching and correct the problem. Sometimes, the ailment can be corrected by changing gear. Other times, it may require a physical therapist or a medical doctor to remedy the ache.

Ultramarathon runners also must pay attention to signs of altitude sickness, such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, and decreased appetite, especially in high altitude runs. By acclimating to altitude slowly and staying hydrated, altitude sickness may be avoided. If a runner does face altitude sickness, it may require rest or medical intervention.

Many times, the ailments associated with ultramarathon training can be avoided through the use of the proper gear. In most cases, ultramarathon runners need headlamps, hydration packs, and food. They may also need a change of clothes, additional shoes, and lubricant to prevent chaffing. By analyzing the route, some runners will be able to tell which gear is most essential to their training. For example, a route that climbs into the mountains may require that the runner bring a jacket and leggings.

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Deanna Baranyi
By Deanna Baranyi
Deanna Baranyi, a freelance writer and editor with a passion for the written word, brings a diverse skill set to her work. With degrees in relevant fields and a keen ability to understand and connect with target audiences, she crafts compelling copy, articles, and content that inform and engage readers.
Discussion Comments
By lluviaporos — On Apr 27, 2014

@MrsPramm - There is definitely truth to the statement that people are made to run, or at least, to walk long distances. But there have been studies that show people who run ultramarathons can end up doing themselves all kinds of damage and may actually shorten their lifespans. So, I would be careful not to overdo it.

By MrsPramm — On Apr 26, 2014

@bythewell - My sister competes in the Ironman races almost every year and she told me that eventually you just get used to it. You might push yourself faster in order to beat your own time, but running in general, without pushing yourself, becomes almost as easy as walking.

I guess it makes sense, since our ancestors were probably running a lot of the day back when they needed to do that in order to find food and avoid becoming food. I've also read that the reason we have such developed backsides is because we are meant to be runners, although most people (including myself!) use that padding as a seat these days.

By bythewell — On Apr 26, 2014

Ultramarathon runners are so amazing. There is one in my town who is famous (to us at least) for going to the ultramarathon that is run across Death Valley every couple of years. I mean, it's not only more running than most people would do in a year, it's also run across one of the harshest landscapes known to humankind.

Apparently it's common for people to start hallucinating towards the end and they need a team of friends to help them keep going with supplies. I think I'd probably drop dead within the first couple of miles.

Deanna Baranyi
Deanna Baranyi
Deanna Baranyi, a freelance writer and editor with a passion for the written word, brings a diverse skill set to her...
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