Ultrarunning: Experiences From 100-mile Trail Races
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
An ultrarun is anything longer than a marathon (26.2 miles). Ultrarun events are often 50- or 100-mile races that are held on trails and mountains.
You won't need to run a 50 or 100 mile distance during training. The key is to get to the starting line fresh and injury free. Logging 50 to 60 miles a week in the 6 months before the race is enough. Try to include 6 to 7 runs that are longer than 6 hours. You should also do at least one 50-miler about 2 months before the race. Getting used to being on your feet for long periods of time is important. You should also train wearing the equipment you will wear during the race. This may mean items like a fuel belt, a pack, nutrition bars, and blister remedies.
Only the most elite runners will run the entire course. A strong walker can rest muscle groups while losing little time. Many walkers have passed struggling runners late in a race.
Eating and Drinking
Runners should choose foods and drinks that work well for them in training. Then, make sure they will be on hand at checkpoints along the course. Some options are water, sports drinks, energy bars, and energy gels.
Cross train with weights and activities like swimming and biking. The weight training can help you maintain technique when the miles and hours have affected pace, form, and will power.
Even talented and well-trained runners can have problems with the trail, the weather, and the distance. Know that every race has things that may be out of your control.
Using a Pacer
Most races allow pacer runners after 50 miles on. The pacer provides company, encouragement, and protection from difficult terrain.
Even average runners can meet the hundred mile challenge. You will need to be committed and have a good running base. You'll also need to be able to keep a positive attitude to endure the tough situations that may come up.
American Ultrarunning Association
International Association of Athletics Federation
Greenwood E. The newcomers guide to running an ultra. Ultrarunning Magazine website. Available at: https://ultrarunning.com/featured/the-newcomers-guide-to-running-an-ultra. Accessed October 13, 2021.
Medinger J. A primer for the beginning ultra runner: Keep it simple. Ultrarunning Magazine website. Available at: https://ultrarunning.com/features/a-primer-for-the-beginning-ultra-runner-keep-it-simple. Accessed October 13, 2021.
Ultra Running. International Association of Athletics Federation website. Available at:
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Accessed October 13, 2021.
Last reviewed October 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board
Last Updated: 10/13/2021
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