Ultramarathon run, by its definition, is any distance run longer than a full marathon (42.195km or 26.219 mi). So, if you are a marathoner, occasionally running 42.2, why is it hard to finish an ultra run (usually starting with a 50k)?
The simplest answer is most ultra runs are not flat road races and the key is to run slower and longer. The term ultramarathon is synonymous with train-running. So, the difficulty level is higher compared to road races.
For 2018, I have listed finishing an ultra on my bucket list. It is a 50km run along the western ghats – a trail in the beautiful coffee plantations of Malnad. So, with 7.8 km more than my usual Marathon distance, would I be able to finish it in my marathon pace or slightly more than that? I guess not.
What are the difficulty factors?
First, it’s a trail run, with lots of elevations.
Second, it’s going to take a lot of time before I can finish.
How do I train for it?
Hill repeats. Yes, lots of hill training. I have included few of them in my training plan. But, living in a city like Delhi it is not possible for me to train on hills. Thankfully, I have a couple of events in the coming weeks with good elevation gain. They are going to be my training runs.
And how should I prepare myself for long hours on road? Train to be patient… For a regular road/rack runner (like me), it is difficult. While training for an ultra run, you need to forget about the pace, you need to forget about the PR for the race… just need to train to have more hours on road, lean to slow down and walk… I am increasing my Sunday long runs by time than the distance (we all love to log more distance than time).
In short, it’s all about surviving long hours on road, running slowly and enjoying the beautiful scenery around (most iconic ultra runs happen in scenic locations). Can’t wait to get into that ‘ultra runner’ club.