Racing over a distance so long it would be smarter to comer it in your car might seem insurmountable, but follow these tips from Alice Hector who changed her life for the better after achieving it.
I was sitting around a table with my friends the other night, having my one glass of wine before we parted ways: party central for them and the land of nod for me.
As the drinks flowed, conversation became more animated. “Name one of the most ridiculous things you’ve ever done,” said one. The answers were all different. “I streaked at my best friend’s wedding.” Whoops of laughter. “I ate a 150oz steak for a challenge.” High-fives all round. “I ran 100 miles in one day,’ said a small voice. The other partygoers looked at me, then left.
Being an ultra runner is not everyone’s idea of a good time. A lot of people think you’re awfully strange. But the rewards are abundant. Not so many moons ago, humans believed the marathon distance was the holy grail of endurance running. Greek legends perished in the pursuit of 26.2 miles on foot. It doesn’t get more challenging than that. Or does it?
It seems the marathon is actually the tip of the iceberg when it comes to distance. More and more people are taking to the roads and trails and racking up distances that would be impressive on four wheels, let alone two legs. So how does one start out? Below is your tell-all guide.
There are more comrades than competitors
I found the best way to begin was with a 50km event, which I found really testing, but it was beautiful and a great way to see lots of countryside on foot. The escapism and the simplicity of it struck me. It was just you, running and fueling. The other competitors were very laid back. The gun went, and people were still tying their shoelaces.
If someone ran out of water or needed help, other runners were the first to reach out. It was a far cry from the tense atmosphere of any other competition I’d done previously. It was also really hard, but with that comes a great sense of satisfaction at the finish. From there I ticked 50 miles, 100km and then 100 miles. There’s still more in the tank. I haven’t found my limit yet.
It’s easier than you think
Training for ultra running doesn’t require much more than you would for a marathon. There are many coaching programs that insist on really long training runs but that puts you at risk of getting injured a lot. There’s no denying that running a long way is probably going to hurt you, so it’s best not to enter an event carrying an training injury. Factor in a decent amount of recovery afterwards (at least two weeks without running) and you’ll be amazed how quickly your body heals.
Doing the bare minimum
To prepare for the big 100-miler, I did one four-hour run and lots of 2-3 hour runs. People were shocked at how relatively little I’d done, yet I set the women’s course record that still stands to this day. Going on 2-3 hour runs builds aerobic endurance and conditions your legs to take the strain, without tipping the scale into damage and disrepair.
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