/ Ultra marathon tips

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The New NickB - on 24 Sep 2013
My girlfriend was doing the Ladybower 35 on Sunday, her first ultra. She did really well, but always good to get other perspectives and I might give it a go myself next year. She ran to a schedule of 25 minute run, 5 minute walk from the start and kept to it except for missing he last walking break, on the last 15 mile lap she went from around 12th and 4th lady to 5th and 2nd lady so paced it really well.

I know a few people on here have done ultras, some very fast. So what are your tips for a good ultra performance.
IainRUK - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to The New NickB: For 35 I'd run every step for sure. Up to 100k I'd not consider walking unless walking was slow.

35 I'd just go out marathon effort and try to hold on. Its very different to a 50-60 miler. But even in 100k I'll lap 6:45-6:55 for as long as I can..

eat regularly, train loads, don't be too cautious. It depends if you want to compete or complete.. I suspect you have enough experience to compete over that distance from the off.. and not look purely for completion.
notaclue - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to The New NickB: . I am no expert but personally I set myself a realistic time for myself and aim for it and keep going as best I can. I also try to keep mving at all times and don't waste time at aid stations etc. Key is eating and drinking. I would recommend Nuun tablets - since i started using them never had cramp again (I suck them and drink water, instead of diluting then)

I also ran the 35 mile race on Sunday and personally wouldn't do it again. The second lap was really tedious and I prefer more hills and a lot less road. Only got round by listening to music on the second lap - something I never usually do

A good race is 30 m Intro ultra in the peak district - search for eight point two website and it is one of their dig deep races. next one is July 14 (they also do a 60 mile event)
Marek - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to The New NickB:
Depends on the sort of ultra it is. Flat or hilly? Tarmac or off-road?
I used to do some many years ago, but then stopped running and only just started again. Did the High Peak 40 (mainly off-road and a bit hilly) this weekend and some lesson learned were:
* Don't forgo speed work in training. I focussed just on stamina over the summer and ended up running quite comfortably, but simply too slow on the downhills and flats.
* Core strength really helps. Previously I'd be sore after an ultra from the shoulders down. Now with better core strength from climbing, MTBing, road cycling there was very little soreness except in the legs.
* Downhill training is also not to be missed. Again, I left it out and suffered with trashed quads in the latter stages (and the day after!).
* Calf compression socks seemd to work for me to stave off my usual calf cramp. Sample of one - caveat emptor.
The New NickB - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

I thought you might say that, Im not the athlete you are, but my thought on the day was that I am pretty sure that could get well beyond 25 miles at 7:15/7:30 pace (30 seconds below my marathon pace) but having not been beyond marathon distance before, I'm not sure when I would blow up.

Yes, it would be to be competitive, rather than just complete.
The New NickB - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to notaclue:

I was amazed how much time people spent faffing at the aid station, if you need to eat fine, but keep moving surely.

I've run the lap, recce'd it with Jill a few weeks back, I quite liked it, my running is all about rhythm so road and good trails is fine.

Did you hit your target?
IainRUK - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to The New NickB: I'd go with that. For a 50k I look at 6:30 sort of pace. I run 15-18 milers in training at 6:30 so with food would expect to hold it. You will slow a bit, in ultra's you rarely run negative splits so don't fixate on that.

I always try to run the first 15 miles comfortably yet if I can in the lead group then see what happens.. But realise that if I'm seeing 5's on my watch its not going to happen.


IainRUK - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to The New NickB:
> (In reply to notaclue)
>
> I was amazed how much time people spent faffing at the aid station, if you need to eat fine, but keep moving surely.
>
>

On a 35 miler you won't need much.. just grab some handfulls a few pieces of banana. Some coke.
Steff - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to The New NickB:

A you say she seemed to have got the timing right. Most things have already been said, but it's important to differentiate between different types of ultras. A relatively flat 35 miler can just be approached like a long marathon. Anything that requires 10+ hours probably needs a different approach and anything that requires carrying loads of gear and running through the night is completely different again.
On all distances, it's important to eat and drink just right, not too much not too little, but what you eat and how much changes with the time event takes to complete. The potential impact of bad nutrition management also becomes worse in longer distances, although on really long stuff there is often some scope for corrections.
Faffing has already been mentioned. For a mid pack runner like me this probably the biggest factor. Just keeping moving at all time can result in very good performance, probably not a winning performance, but above average. Of course, if you want to compete at the top avoiding faff has to be a given.
One thing I have noticed is that it's difficult to train for ultras, i.e. you get better by doing ultras. There is some sort of physical and mental adaptation that only comes with experience. I don't think I have become fitter in the last two years, but somehow ultras just don't break me down as much as they used to and I can keep moving at my modestly efficient pace for longer with less pain.
The New NickB - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Steff:

I'd be interested to see how much height gain this one involved, it wasn't flat, but it wasn't really hilly either, it was mostly up or down, but long shallow incline and descents.
mbh - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

Yes, I found that I did not eat much at all in a 50 km event, but drank a lot. I would grab bits of flapjack at the feeding stations and keep going.

I found that my own training, of (at that time) 45 ish mpw for many weeks, with few runs over 13 m left me able to keep my pace up (not Iain's pace) until the end, with little soreness the day after.
Marek - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Steff:
> One thing I have noticed is that it's difficult to train for ultras, i.e. you get better by doing ultras. There is some sort of physical and mental adaptation that only comes with experience. I don't think I have become fitter in the last two years, but somehow ultras just don't break me down as much as they used to and I can keep moving at my modestly efficient pace for longer with less pain.

I'm working on the theory that marriage, kids and age (as well as experience) all help. Perhaps we just learn to put up with 'discomfort' better. Not much of a strategy, but I'm giving it a go. I'll let you know.
Thickhead - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Marek:
> (In reply to Steff)
> [...]
>
> I'm working on the theory that marriage, kids and age (as well as experience) all help. Perhaps we just learn to put up with 'discomfort' better. Not much of a strategy, but I'm giving it a go. I'll let you know.



This actually makes some sense. I tend to go out now whatever the weather rather than waiting for a "window" - basically use it or lose it as far as time is concerned.

I'm doing my first ultra race in December. Not sure how competitive I will be but will see. Ultimately I want to run, enjoy it, do as best as I can and hopefully finish towards the front of the field.

Have done several 30+ mile runs in the mountains last couple years and usually manage to keep going so long as fluid and food intake is appropriate.
IainRUK - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Thickhead: I know a few women who think having kids was pretty important in knowing what suffering and pain were.. one was an olympic marathoner..
Thickhead - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to Thickhead) I know a few women who think having kids was pretty important in knowing what suffering and pain were.. one was an olympic marathoner..


Pain and suffering of childbirth or the sleepless nights that followed?

My wife thinks that childbirth was ok as you could take pain killers for that. What you couldn't do anything about was months of sleep deprivation...
Days on Rock - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Thickhead: Brecon Winter 40? You'll have fun; I've done two Might Contain Nuts events and they were really well organised. What was supposed to be my first ultra in March was shortened due to pretty much blizzard conditions on the tops; hopefully you'll have better weather!
Thickhead - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Days on Rock:

Kepler Challenge, 60km trail race in Te Anau, Fiordlands, NZ.

www.keplerchallenge.co.nz

Will be summer so if rain stays off should be warm at least :-)
Steff - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Marek:
> (In reply to Steff)
> [...]
>
> I'm working on the theory that marriage, kids and age (as well as experience) all help. Perhaps we just learn to put up with 'discomfort' better. Not much of a strategy, but I'm giving it a go. I'll let you know.

Having a child certainly prepares you for running through the night ;-)
Steff - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Thickhead:
> (In reply to Marek)
>
> This actually makes some sense. I tend to go out now whatever the weather rather than waiting for a "window" - basically use it or lose it as far as time is concerned.
>

This is true. I despair at some of my single friends' "lack of time" ;-) Typical long run at the weekend all summer meant getting up a 5am, run for 5-6 hours, then meat the family at the swimming pool and dodge a dive bombing 7 year old for a couple of hours. In winter it's worse.
notaclue - on 25 Sep 2013
In reply to The New NickB:
> (In reply to notaclue)
>
> I was amazed how much time people spent faffing at the aid station, if you need to eat fine, but keep moving surely.
>
> I've run the lap, recce'd it with Jill a few weeks back, I quite liked it, my running is all about rhythm so road and good trails is fine.
>
> Did you hit your target?

Yes i beat it by 12 mins and could have done better but I did some flaffing trying to send a text message and never finding a reception. I got 635m of ascent for the race

The other advice I would give is never be daunted by a distance. I am a very average runner with youing kids full time job and if I can run an ultra anyone can. I read a great quote once by Helene Diamenetes (spelling?) who said if you can run 6 miles you can run 60 and it is very true. It is all about relentless forward progress.

For inspiration check out Seb Chaigneau "getting ready for" stuff on his website

Irk the Purist - on 25 Sep 2013
In reply to The New NickB:
It's the best kept secret in running and I'm going to share it.
Ultras aren't that hard. There, I said it.

You can't run a half at 10k pace and you can't run a marathon at half pace. In the same way, you can't run 35 miles at marathon pace and you can't run 50 miles at 35 mile pace. But the idea is the same, just run slower for longer.

It's not hard.

Go for it.

yorkshireman - on 25 Sep 2013
In reply to Eric the Red:

> Ultras aren't that hard. There, I said it.

Sshh, I've been dining out on my last one for weeks! :)

In all honesty though, I get your point and I believe Nick B is an accomplished runner at shorter distances so your ocmments stand. However it is hard in different ways.

I did 86km with 4k ascent a couple of weeks ago and we had a 50% DNF rate in a race that hardly attracted fun runners in chicken costumes, so they shouldn't be under estimated.

However I think like Steff said, once you get to a certain level of fitness, its all about resilience, hardening your body to the rigours, and perfecting a race strategy.

In fact one of the hardest disciplines to learn is not to go too fast and to pace yourself. I attempted the same race a couple of years ago and blew up in the second half. I learned a lot in the intervening years about when to push it, and when to ease off.
Carolyn - on 25 Sep 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> I know a few women who think having kids was pretty important in knowing what suffering and pain were..

I think what it did for me was make me much better on being in the moment, concentrating on what's happening now, and not if I might be able to keep it up for a long, but uncertain, length of time.

Unlikely to be a help if you tend to push yourself too hard at the start, but if, like me, you are rather too good at "pacing" yourself and have a tendency to slow down at the mere sight of a hill rather only when it actually becomes hard work, then it's useful!
Wonrek - on 27 Sep 2013
In reply to Eric the Red:
> (In reply to The New NickB)
> It's the best kept secret in running and I'm going to share it.
> Ultras aren't that hard. There, I said it.
>
> You can't run a half at 10k pace and you can't run a marathon at half pace. In the same way, you can't run 35 miles at marathon pace and you can't run 50 miles at 35 mile pace. But the idea is the same, just run slower for longer.
>
> It's not hard.
>
> Go for it.

4mph and sit there (not literally sit obviously, steady pacing at). 10hrs 40 miles, 20hrs 80 miles get tat 100 nailed in 25 running hours. Up to you how much CP time you take.

That's my formula but this is obviously based on stupidly hard trail and mountain races :-)
yorkshireman - on 27 Sep 2013
In reply to Wonrek:

It's like the cliche that races aren't run on the day, but in the months of training. The hardest part of an ultra is getting up at 5am for a long run in training, consistently putting in the KMs and making sacrifices over time so that you're in shape on the start line.

mattrm - on 27 Sep 2013
In reply to Wonrek:
> (In reply to Eric the Red)
> [...]
>
> 4mph and sit there (not literally sit obviously, steady pacing at). 10hrs 40 miles, 20hrs 80 miles get tat 100 nailed in 25 running hours. Up to you how much CP time you take.
>
> That's my formula but this is obviously based on stupidly hard trail and mountain races :-)

This basically. I'm very poorly trained for ultras and I've completed several at this kind of pace. You just have to be totally ruthless at checkpoints. You can loose loads of time at a CP, if you've got 10 CPs in the race and you spend 6 minutes at each of them, that's an hour lost there.
Wonrek - on 27 Sep 2013
In reply to yorkshireman:
> (In reply to Wonrek)
>
> It's like the cliche that races aren't run on the day, but in the months of training. The hardest part of an ultra is getting up at 5am for a long run in training, consistently putting in the KMs and making sacrifices over time so that you're in shape on the start line.

There's no cliche there just absolute truth. I get up two weekday mornings to train at 4.30 (this morning it was hill reps) if I wasn't prepared to do that beings working single parent would mean not enough time in the day to get the training done.

Having recently attempted my first 100 mile race I had the view that I wasn't going to get to be able to run 100 miles by looking at it, talking about it or thinking about it.

Only one way and that's to put the hours in.....
Orgsm on 27 Sep 2013
In reply to The New NickB:

Agree, winter miles make summer smiles .

I go out for a 12 hours circuit once a month year round. Makes a bigger events pretty easy in the warmer months. The cold can suck the energy out of you.
mbh - on 27 Sep 2013
In reply to Wonrek:

Ha! I thought I was the earliest bird in Cornish running. I have often got up early enough to go out at 5, although this is rare, and actually I get up early anyway. My routine has always been to start weekend runs by 6, or 7 am latest, and at the current volume, I can see 5 am midweek sessions happening once the dark closes in. At the moment I prefer instead to catch the last opportunities to run the coast path after work.

What you say about your 100 mile event chimes with the way I get through every mile, hill and low point. Just get on with it, and it will be done.
Wonrek - on 28 Sep 2013
In reply to mbh: 5? It's nearly all over by then! Assuming your MBH username relates to club, don't think I know you yet but small world down here maybe we'll run of ether at one pont. I'm a friend of Mr Angove....
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