I’m no ultra marathon expert. I’ve ran three ultra races in total. Whilst my second offering up to longer distance may have been a surprise win, the other two were more like running picnics than races. But I guess experience is gained through trying.
Whether you’re a veteran mountain goat, or preparing for your debut at the distance, here are 8 of my long distance tips for you :
1. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
Your training miles might be lost in a forgotten running memory bank somewhere, but they
happened. Have faith in all that you’ve done so far, and how much further your legs will carry you.
2. PACK YOUR BAG IN ADVANCE
Racing on the Saturday? Get your kit together midweek, and pack a cosy set of clothes to get into after you finish. Complete with flip flops. Speaking from
experience, the stress of getting into a complete tizzy trying to find things the
night before a race is added stress that you don’t need.
Going in my ultra vest :
Headtorch, food & gels, suncream, spare t-shirt, spare socks, light waterproof, sunglasses, Vaseline, plasters, waterpoof bag for my phone, electrolyte tablets.
When packing water/ liquid, be mindful of aid stations. It’s better to pack just enough but not weigh yourself down. At Race to the Stones, aid stations are every 10K, and provide water, brews and Coke.
3. RIDE THE WAVE
Such as the motion of the sea, feelings and emotions of both the bad and good
will come and go. Get on your ultra marathon
surf board and ride them. At your lowest
points it’s hard to imagine these feelings will disappear, but sure enough they
will. Hold tightly on to that.
4. EAT WHAT YOU KNOW
Whilst aid stations are filled with food and refreshments, take nutrition that
you’ve trained with, even if you don’t end up eating all of it.
My ultra marathon stash isn’t exciting, but goes a little something like this –
Bananas (lots of them), Nakd bars, High Five gels, Lucozade, electrolyte tablets
5. TREAT YOURSELF
Pack a treat
or two for when the going gets tough. If you have a hankering for a
Snickers from time to time, put one in your rucksack in case you need a pick me
up, as well as an energy boost. My choice would be something peanut buttery and smothered in chocolate.
6. FEAR THE CHAFE
It might be a touchy subject for some, but it’s part and parcel of long distance. Better to wince at your screen than realise your under arms are rubbed to bits 31 miles into a race. Take extra body glide and blister plasters, and be sure you slather on Vaseline before you start.
7. RESPECT THE DISTANCE
Pace yourself. Whilst rest and tapering might have you bursting with beans, go steady. You have
a long way to go – be sure to spread your energy, walk up the hills, and take a break when you need to. Whether you’re running 50K or 100K, it’s
important to look at that as a journey, not time on the clock.
8. SOAK UP THE EXPERIENCE – ENJOY IT!
It isn’t every day that you have the opportunity to break down a vision in your mind that you may have once deemed impossible. Whether this is your first or third time running an ultra marathon, stand on that starting line knowing that what you’re about to
achieve isn’t something ordinary. I won’t preach much about the impact that it will have on your life after you finish, but it will bring change. Even if you stumble upon moments of despair, getting through these will shift your perspective in life, much further than the miles you will run with your feet.