You have running in your blood. You enjoy spending hours and hours on the trail. You cringe whenever a Gloria Estefan song comes on the radio (not necessarily required for ultramarathons, but essential to be a decent human being). You want to see what sort of craziness exists beyond 26.2 miles. Maybe you want to go for the whole enchilada = a 100 miler. Bring. On. An. Ultramarathon!
Compared to marathons, there is definitely less information about preparing for your first ultra, let alone a 100 miler. I’m far from being an expert on the topic and I still have lots to learn. My experience comes from completing two 100 milers - the Javelina Jundred (race report HERE) and Zion 100 (race report HERE) along with some shorter ultras. Here is a list of resources I have found to be very helpful in my ultrarunning with plenty of links where you can find the info:
Ultra Runner Podcast - I have listened to each of these hour-ish interviews and they have kept me occupied for many long runs. Guests include elite runners, doctors, nutritionists, and Average Joe ultrarunners. Some of my favorites are Errol Jones, Lee McKinley, and Sunny Blende. I highly recommend downloading all their podcasts.
www.ultrunr.com – I have read everything on this website countless times. It has suggestions and answers for anything you could ever want to know about ultramarathons, including training, hydration, heat acclimatization, race strategy, and injury prevention.
UltraRunning Magazine – This is the ultra version of Runner’s World. The magazine is full of informative articles, cool pictures, and race reports from people who show how fun ultramarathons can be. I was honored to have one of my pictures from the Javelina Jundred in this month’s issue:
www.irunfar.com – The website is chock full of interviews, gear reviews, and articles. It’s a community gathering place for fellow runners.
Books – There are a bunch of great books about ultrarunning. Some of my favorites are Eat and Run by Scott Jurek, And Then The Vulture Eats You by John L. Parker, Running Through The Wall by Neil Jamison, and of course the old standby Born To Run by Christopher McDougall.
Training Plans – There are training resources in the book Relentless Forward Progress by Bryon Powell. There are also training plans HERE and HERE. To see a graph of my four months of training leading up to my first 100 click HERE.
And a few other tips I’d suggest based on my experience:
1) Run some longer races to build up to 100. I know it’s easy to get excited about ultras and want to go right to 100 miles, but I would definitely recommend running a 50 miler first. Although it’s not critical, I think having the experience of running 50 miles is a huge advantage before trying to tackle 100.
2) Practice nutrition and hydration during training. These issues really need to be nailed down because it’s near impossible to finish 100 miles if things go wrong here. (Yep, learned this one the hard way.)
3) No matter what, change the station if you hear a song by Gloria Estefan, Pat Benetar, or Celine Dion. Listening to this garbage will invite bad trail karma. (No, I have not learned this the hard way.)
4) Make your training runs race-specific – run on trails that are similar to your upcoming race. If you’re doing a mountain race with lots of climbing, you better make sure you tackle plenty of hills in training.
5) Just my personal soap box, but ultra training shouldn’t come at the expense of family. Do as much of your training at a time that won’t interrupt with family time. Yep. This will mean some early morning or late night miles. But oh well. A belt buckle or medal isn’t more valuable than a relationship with my wife and kids.
So in conclusion: just click the “Register” button. Making that commitment is definitely the scariest part of the race. But once you register, you can get down to the business of figuring out how you’re going to achieve your goal. Can't wait to welcome you to the > 26.2 club!