Training for an ultra is not all sunsets and rainbows, it’s a tough endeavor not for the faint of heart and takes a level commitment that the average person cannot fathom. There will be times when you will contemplate throwing in the towel, wonder why you even subjected yourself to completing to this crazy thing in the first place, question your training and if you are really ready to undertake something so daunting.
As you run into the unknown, consider that you are not alone. This is the process all ultra runners go through and not just when training for their first ultra. It is a journey and like life and the very earth we tread on, full of ups and downs: small hills to challenge us, massive peaks to overcome and then the peace of a calm valley when things just seem to click.
If you are taking the leap into uncharted territory and going ultra this year, continue reading. L2S coach Sara Spolrich, who has run the gamut of ultra events and adventures from completing the Appalachian trail solo to 48 hour lapped events, has shared some insights to help you along the way.
If you want to go far, go together…Check out our local ultra training group at the end of this post!
- Knowing your “why”:
What is the motivation behind running an ultra for you? This is a very helpful mental strategy when it gets hard…because we know it will. Keep your “why” in mind during those difficult times so that you know your goals are bigger than your current reality (and pain).
- Consistency over everything:
Getting out for all of those weekday runs, in the end, are the cornerstone in creating and maintaining fitness to go long. Do not cut corners and try to “fit” in training that you missed. You will need to find a balance between listening to your body when you need a break to pushing through fatigue to ensure you complete those key runs in your plan.
- Smile and cultivate joy!
Just remember, during those times you are tired, unmotivated and sore that you chose this, and it’s our time to be with ourselves and our friends. We are lucky that our bodies allow us to run far!
- Hard does not need to equal miserable!
We will practice keeping a defined line between hard workouts, easy workouts, and recovery. I use a HR monitor to help me determine this, but also connecting with the FEEL of each type of workout so when the watch dies, I’m still confident in my pace and effort.
- The race is a celebration of training, not the test.
Race day can throw a lot at us (terrible weather, travel mishaps, GI problems, sickness, lethargy….the list goes on) so looking at it as pass/fail can add a lot of unnecessary stress. Be confident that you’ve done all that you could to prepare. The work is done, and now its time to celebrate by running an inspiring course and sharing in a collective experience.
- Reflection leads to discovery.
I write, most days, a few sentences about how I felt during the workout. There are a lot of different techniques to reflect, but its the process that counts. Have you been tired several days in a row? How long has that niggle been bothering you? Reflecting and documenting keeps us honest and aware of our training load. After a race, reflection is also helpful in knowing where you can improve, where you nailed it, and how you want to tweak training next time.
Sara Spolrich resides in Golden CO and is a teacher, L2S trail run coach, Wilderness First Responder and an instructor for the Women’s Wilderness Institute. She started out with short road races and triathlons she then progressed to trail ultra distances where she found her happy place. Her love of ultra-distance running spawned after hiking and running up and down the east coast by way of the Appalachian Trail. She feels most inspired by moving fast and light in the mountains, but you’ll catch her signed up for a few races here and there.
Sara’s favorite events and noteworthy accomplishments include:
– Steep Camp 48 hour
– Indiana Trail 50 Miler (her first Ultra!)
– 4 state challenge on the Appalachian Trail (~45 miles crossing into 4 different states in one day)
– 30 miles for her 30th Birthday
This year Sara will be completing the Miocene Epic Endurance Challenge and the 24 Hours of Palmer Lake Fun Run (shooting for 100 miles)
Are you planning on going ultra this year?
Check out the Life’s 2 Short Fitness women’s ultra training group! This on-going program from March-October includes weekly coached runs at trails across the front range, supported long runs, a training plan to follow, special clinics to make sure you are prepared for race day and the camaraderie and support of training with a group!
——–> Learn more now HERE.