Why on earth would someone want to do an ultra marathon? I have done several now, and I still don't know the answer to that question... :D
An ultra marathon is any distance longer than the standard 26.2 miles of a marathon. The distances vary, but whatever distance you pick for an ultra, it's a heck of a long way! Many of them are trail runs, which means undulating terrain, hills and lots of fun along the way. Although...I guess that depends on what your idea of "fun" is... :D
Here are a few 'secrets' I've discovered so far on my ultra journeys...
1) The ultra running community is super friendly, encouraging and supportive, so if you're tempted to have a go, then relax in the fact that there will be lots of smiles, chatting and encouragement from fellow runners along the way.
2) In many ways, they are easier than a marathon. Sounds odd. I know. They are more of an endurance race than a running race. So, unless you're one of the leading pack, it's unlikely that you will run the entire distance, especially if its a hilly one. My first ultra had a hill about 400 meters after the start line, and literally everyone I could see in front of me had stopped jogging and was walking up it. It was at that point that I knew I was going to be a fan of ultras...
3) Eating is very much encouraged. Especially sweets, crisps, cake and chocolate! Being out on the trail for hours and hours means that you are burning loads of calories and it's essential to replace them.
4) Ultras take a lot of training, as you would expect, and comfortable kit is key. I use a variety of kit depending on if I'm training or racing and how long I'm out for. Test your kit in your training, and don't try anything new on race day!
So, if you're even the slightest bit interested in doing an ultra, put your fears to one side, grab a running buddy and get yourself out onto the trails to enjoy the camaraderie and fun. Visit me on instagram @Claire_Training and let me know how you get on!