Marathons Not Enough? Try Ultra Marathons
Why You Should Try Ultramarathons
Once upon a time, a standard 26.2 miles was the pinnacle test of physical endurance, but those days are over. If you’ve found that marathons are just simply not enough for you anymore, maybe its time you try ultramarathons. While some people will look at ultramarathons as a near test of the human spirit and body, the number of them has increased 1000% in the past decade alone. In our latest blog, we’re delving into the world of ultramarathons so you can decide if you’re going to take one on as your next challenge or not.
1. How Long Are They?
First and foremost, you’ll want to know exactly how long they are. Well, the distance can vary drastically. Some ultramarathons such as The Spice Race go on for hundreds of miles, while you’ll find plenty that are between 30-50 miles. Now, you might read that and think it’s just not going to happen, but they are actually more achievable than most people might think.
So, now that’s the first question answered, you’re probably wondering ‘how exactly will achieve the near impossible?’
It was our immediate thought too. If you’re familiar with ultra running, you might already know that if you slow down a little from a standard marathon pace and ensure you’re adequately fuelled when running from start to finish, you can actually rack up a lot more miles. If like a whole lot of runners out there you’ve become somewhat addicted to seeing how far you can really go, an ultra marathon is most definitely the next step for you.
If you’re still not convinced and you’ve got an image in your head of Superman or Superwomen taking on the challenge of an ultra marathon. We’re on hand with a whole load of reasons some runners actually find that these longer distances are more manageable.
2. The Scenery Will Keep You Going
Although this doesn’t go for every single ultramarathon route, you’ll often find that they’re a lot more scenic than a standard marathon. In fact, a lot of them take place in vast, rural areas. If you enjoy running with mountains, parks and National Trails along your route, you’re sure to enjoy the scenery you’ll experience! As a runner, you’ll appreciate how vital visual distractions can be when it comes to spurring you on as you rack up those miles.
3. The Pace Is Significantly Slower
Unsurprisingly, ultramarathons are often more accessible for runners as they realize you can run them much slower than a shorter-distance race. If you’re a fan of the walk-run method, you’ll be glad to know that walking is an integral part of the training. Dylan Bowman, one of the best ultrarunners on the planet, previously admitted that he probably walks around 40 per cent of the ultramarathons he takes on.
4. It’s A Real Test Of Your Mental Fortitude
When you’re on your feet for the amount of time required during an ultramarathon, it becomes a test of your mental stamina as much as your physical fitness. This is of course great news for runners that are extremely strong-willed but find they lack in speed or overall fitness. Just imagine, if you’re taking on a mammoth distance of 100 miles, you’re going to face plenty of mental struggles as you power through. Having the mental ability to overcome these is a massive advantage in the game of ultrarunning.
5. You Can Eat, A Lot.
Ultramarathons are unique in some many ways, but perhaps one of the most unique amongst them in the sheer importance of food. In fact, in the bestselling book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall he featured a reference from sports nutritionist Sunny Blade, who defined ultrarunning as ‘an eating and drinking contest, with a little exercise and scenery thrown in’. Granted, that definition might be oversimplifying the concept; however, the message is on point. Ultramarathons don’t just allow for a lot of eating, but they require it.
6. You Can Make A Lot Of Friends Along The Way
If you become an ultrarunning fanatic, you’re sure to make a whole lot of friends along the way. Being on the ultra circuit can be similar to traveling the world solo. When you’re out there taking on those huge distances all alone, no matter how much you might be enjoying it, it’s the kind o experience that is best shared with someone. While you might consider an ultramarathon as a solitary pursuit, taking on this kind of long-distance running can actually make you a social butterfly.
So, now that we’ve sold you the dream of ultramarathons, there’s just one thing left for us to do. Give you some top tips to take on board so you can work towards so you can get your first ultramarathon distance under your belt:
- Keep training consistent: aim for 4-6 hours per week for at least 3 months
- Practice eating and find which fuel works best for you
- Head out on some hikes to build endurance
- Practice trail running and always wear proper trail running shoes
- Buddy up if you work better as part of a team
Although it might have sounded just a little insane on the first appearance, there are many positives to taking on an ultra marathon. If you find that you fall in love with this type of running, one day you might be taking on some of the toughest ultramarathons in the world one day. Anyone for the 155-mile expedition that is the Marathon des Sables?
One last thing, despite us mentioning that its actually an eating competition and you’re practically encouraged to walk, as with all marathons, training is essential for success. There are plenty of tips out there that will have you ready both physically and mentally in just a matter of months. Happy running!