Running Your First Ultra: Are you ready? Do you need a coach?
If you've been bitten by the running bug, chances are, you're contemplating trying your hand at an ultramarthon.
Maybe you started with a 5K, worked your way up to the marathon level and are now asking yourself, "what's next?"
If you're itching to make the jump to a 50K or beyond, read on to see if you're ready.
1. You have a good base of weekly running.
If you have already conquered the marathon distance, it's very likely that you already have a great weekly running routine in place. Or at the very least--you know what it takes and how it feels to maintain a weekly running routine!
During your ultramarathon training, you will build and expand your weekly running mileage. Sometimes finding a way to work those miles into your everyday life can be a challenge. If you already have some experience in this area, your transition will feel much easier and less life-altering.
2. You are learning about race nutrition and how to fuel for endurance runs.
When it comes to ultras, nothing can make or break your success like nutrition. You may be able to log the miles during training, but if you can't fuel properly on race day, all your effort could be in vain.
There are some general guidelines you can find online about hydrating and fueling during endurance events. However, everyone is different, and it will take practice figuring out what your body needs for endurance running. Under-fueling and dehydration are some of the biggest reasons people fail at the ultramarathon distances.
3. You are willing to add in mobility and strength work.
Running a bunch of miles can definitely put you at an increased risk of injury. One very important way to prevent injuries is making sure you have a strength and mobility routine in place. There are some very specific exercises that are important for building the muscles that support your running mechanics and help prevent injury. You don't have to become a body-builder or even join a gym. But focusing on some key movement patterns can keep you running stronger, longer.
4. You are aware that training will take time away from other responsibilities.
Let's face it. Training for an ultramarathon requires a lot of time away from family/work/leisure pursuits. Long runs alone can last anywhere from 1-4+ hours. Knowing this before you even begin will help with your transition into ultra training. Having your significant other/family/friends on board can also help training go more smoothly. The bottom line is that you will likely have to make some sacrifices to reach your running goals.
5. You are committed to a growth mindset.
A growth mindset is the belief that skills and knowledge can be improved with effort and persistence. A growth mindset means being open to bettering yourself, growing your knowledge and finding your "why." You will need to learn that failure is not defeat, perfection is unobtainable, and adaptability is important for success. If you are committed to this, you will find training for an ultramarathon rewarding on many levels.
So....how do you know if you need a coach? If you need help with any of the steps above, finding a coach or mentor will be beneficial. Having someone with experience can save you time and quite possibly help you prevent injury and burnout. Training for and running an ultra is NOT just like training for a marathon. As you push your body for longer periods of time, there are many more variables that come into play. Anticipating these in advance is one of the biggest tickets to success. If you're ready to get started on an ultra training plan, send me a message and let's get to work!