Want To Run An Ultra Marathon?

Want To Run An Ultra Marathon

6 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Get Started

So, You Want To Run An Ultra Marathon?

That’s awesome – Get ready for an EPIC adventure! Running an Ultra Marathon is a life-changing beautiful experience. You will grow, you will develop a great amount of grit, you will learn to tap into that inner badass, and you will fall in love with the experiences you can have out on the trails. 

Yes, it is exciting training for an ultra, but it does come at a cost and you NEED to know what you’re getting into. In no way am I trying to discourage anyone from attempting an Ultra, I do though, believe it’s important before signing up for that next race you should ask yourself a few questions. So, let get started.

Are You Injured Or Do You Have Any Recurring Injuries That Keep Popping Up?

If you are currently injured, you NEED to let your body heal and recover. Running on an injury is simply a recipe for disaster. Taking the time to heal from an injury can be frustrating, but your health and longevity should be your top priority.

Do you have consistent nagging pain when you run? If so, you don’t want to add more mileage and stress to a broken body. Little niggles that are consistently ignored can soon turn into a race ending injury. If you struggle with recurring injuries, I highly suggest seeing or physical therapist or personal trainer. These professionals will be able to address any underlining issues that are causing your body to continually get injured and help get you back to moving properly, so you can hit those trails injury free.

What Does Your Daily Stress Look Like?

Daily stress can be a sneaky little culprit that will sabotage your training, and fatigue and overtraining are often the result. Training puts its own type of stress on your body. Your body needs this type of stress for your body to adapt and progress during your training process. Muscles are broken down and then rebuilt and as a result, you become stronger. But, when you add other stress (daily life) to the process your body now has to simultaneously deal with this stress too. This limits your ability to recover appropriately from your training. Often, we don’t even realize how much stress we continually experience during our day. Work is piling up, a relationship is on the rocks, angry with traffic, or consistently feeling overwhelmed. Life can be stressful, but it does not need to be overwhelming. Find some peace and balance BEFORE you start adding another thing into your life.

What Is Your "WHY" Behind Wanting To Complete An Ultra Marathon?

This is an important one! This is the whole reason why you want to run an ultra in the first place. Everyone has different motives that get them excited to train day in and day out. You need to have a purposeful meaning as to why you want to complete such a big task. Your “WHY” is the fuel in your engine, it keeps you going. This makes you more invested in the outcome and the process purposeful. When times get tough (because it WILL) you need to have that “WHY”, so you can grasp onto it during those difficult moments.

What Are The Biggest Barriers And/Or Weaknesses In Your Life That May Prevent You From Achieving Your Goal?

Being aware of your weaknesses can be powerful, if you know what to do when they come up. Make a list of your biggest barriers that might derail you from your training progress, then write down what you will do when they come up. This is your plan of attack when those barriers creep in.

Time, money, people, injuries, support from family, boredom, fatigue, lack of motivation, bad habits – to name a few. We all have barriers that can derail us on the path of where we are trying to go, that’s part of life. Having a plan of what to do when those barriers come up though, will set you up for success. Life is full of curveballs – adapt and learn from them, instead of allowing them to break you.

What Is The Longest Race Or Training Run You Have Completed?

As a coach, I always suggest that you ease into a longer race distance you have not yet completed and make sure they have a solid fitness base BEFORE starting to train for an ultra. You want to think about longevity in this sport you love. Adding on too much, too soon, can put extra added stress on your body. It will pay off if you take the time to learn and progress from the experiences of each race. You’re likely to have a better experience and outcome during the longer races when they have a few shorter races under your belt.

If you are new to ultras, I would suggest starting with the 50K distance. This allows you to dip your feet into the 30+ mile range. How did you feel, how did your body hold up, did you enjoy the longer distance, and can you imagine running further? Maybe don’t answer these questions right after you finish, but give yourself a day or two, then ask yourself these questions before choosing to sign up for a longer distance race.

Are You Willing To Put Forth The Time And Effort To Reach Your Goals?

Take a look at your daily, weekly, and monthly schedule. Do you have the time and are willing to put forth the time needed to train for an ultra? For most people training for an ultra is not their full-time job. You still need to have a life! Your training should revolve around your life, not your life revolving around your training. You need balance!

You may need to move things around, wake up extra early, or skip out on a late-night party to get your training in. Remember  continually find that balance between training and life. You want to try and limit the amount of stress you experience throughout your day, not add to it. There will be times when training may be stressful, you may lose your motivation to even get out there on the trails, this is normal, it can be hard to be 100% motivated all the time. If you feel this way, usually it means you need to evaluate your stress, balance, and overall training load. Depending on how you feel, maybe give yourself a day of mental rest, listen to your mind and body, then get back at it.

Need Help Getting Started?

Check out the link below for some free ultra training plan. 50k, 50 mile, and 100 mile plan options.


Looking for a coach that can help take the guesswork out of training and get you feeling your best out there on the trails? Contact me and we can chat! 

You might also like this article about the art of balancing being a parent while training for ultras and upper body mobility for runners.