If you’ve getting that “been there, done that” feeling from running marathon after marathon and you’re looking for something to spice up the action, you might want to consider running an ultrathon sometime in the near future. Ultrathons have become quite the trend for runners and could be just the adventure that you’re looking for in your training progression.
Ultrathons are longer than the standard marathon distance of 42k (26.2 miles) in a range from 50k to 160.9k (31 to 100 miles) so you will need to do a bit of extra training to make the switch. If you have already tucked a few successful marathons and sub marathons under your belt, you are in a position to prepare.
Ultrathons will provide you with a different perspective than that of a marathon route. Rather than simply counting off the milestone k’s or miles throughout the distance, you’ll have a bit more to focus on an ultrathon. Some will take you off road into different terrain or incorporate other obstacles to confront so it’s far more diverse than a marathon course, commonly. These races are more about the process than the distance so you’ll reconnect with your love of running.
Changing your focus will definitely get you into a new group of people that engage in these races and you’ll likely make some new connections in the process. The ultrathon community tends to be a bit tighter than the wide world of marathons and that is part of the appeal. It’s not simply a race, it’s an interest group. When new folds come onboard, they are enormously welcoming and supportive in helping you learn everything you need to engage in the race. They’ll know the trails, they’ll have performance tips and they’ll have their own first time stories to share to make newcomers feel like they’ll get to the point of mastery soon as well.
One of the nice things about ultrathons is that they’ll get you off the streets in most situations, since many are run off-road on trails. If you’re used to running the roads and breathing in the awesome stench of traffic fumes, it will be a welcome change in the program and your lungs will thank you by upping your performance. Add to that the changing landscapes and the peaceful environment and you’ll feel like you’ve taken a vacation instead of running a race. Just kidding. You’ll be challenged. Ultrathons are not a day on the beach but the beauty of the scenery will certainly add a positive element to your overall experience.
These races will give you an opportunity to test your own mettle rather than pay attention to your distance marks or comparing yourself to the others that are running. Marathon courses tend to pit you side by side among thousands and it’s difficult not to measure your performance against what others are accomplishing. Terrible habit. In ultrathons, the terrain might be your biggest competition and you’ll be focused on meeting your own challenges, as will the others. Variable conditions, shifting terrains will occupy your thoughts and you’ll need to use concentration.
Overall, ultrathons will introduce you to a new way to run, to meet challenges and a group of enthusiastic friends to join you on the way. In the end, those will be the greatest factors and not where you finish in the lineup.