Are you looking for a big challenge in 2020, or just another thing to conquer on your fitness journey? Some of you may never have heard of an ultra-marathon, let alone considered entering for one, but this blog is to tell you what they are and why you should do one!
An Ultra marathon (or Ultra) is a running race of any distance greater than a marathon. The distances can range from 30 miles to 300 miles but don’t be put off by these crazy distances, with a proper plan in place you could be running your first ultra within 6 months!
Let’s get started and we’ll try and convince you why you should run your first ultra!
It will take you to beautiful places
Ultras are often off-road, and away from big towns and cities. In nice weather there is little better than spending time on trails in the big outdoors. Whether it’s somewhere local you’ve never explored, a national park across the country or even abroad, trail running can take you to amazing places you may have never discovered.
Trail running is better for you
When racking up the miles on the road, the repetitive landing position of your foot coupled with the hard road surface has been shown to be hard on your joints, especially your knees and ankles. The softer running surface off-road will reduce the wear and tear on your body keeping you fit for longer.
You will need a lot more stability around your ankles and knees due to the uneven surfaces underfoot and the elevation changes of the route will require a good base level of strength in your legs. Ultra-running really is a whole-body workout!
Build your mental toughness
Completing an ultra-marathon is a show of mental fortitude more than anything else, having the will to carry on running when you are tired, hungry and in pain is one of the hardest things you’ll have to do. Mental strength isn’t just applicable to your running though, you can apply it to all areas of your life!
Do things at your pace
Ultra-running gives you the opportunity to run at your own pace. Walking is not a sign of weakness it really is encouraged. Seriously! A good rule to follow is to walk every uphill section, it’s not only more efficient but 20 miles later you’ll be thanking your past self for being sensible.
The goal is less about burning yourself out by going deep into fatigue, more about completing the distance in your style.
Race Day is great
Race Day is exciting and nerve wracking in equal parts. Before it starts you’re buzzing to get started but also daunted by the task ahead of you. However, once your legs get going there are several things that keep you going.
Your fellow runners become your best friends whether you run alongside them for five minutes or for five hours! Support along the route really powers you on and can make those tough times just that little bit more enjoyable.
You spend all day stuffing your face. Seriously. At every pit stop you will be stuffing your face with all sorts of fruit, nut bars and anything that you can get your hands on!
And when it’s finally done the sense of fulfilment is amazing. You’ve completed such a massive task and had a beautiful experience along the way.
Peace in your own head
It’s really on reflection that you realise the benefits of all the effort that has been put into training and the ultra itself. Many people have different experiences and reap the benefits of what they have accomplished.
For me personally I recognised the benefit of exercise to my mental health and the sense of really accomplishing a goal I had set myself. I brought these benefits into my work and social life and I can honestly say that completing my first ultra-marathon improved me as a person.
Obviously Ultra Running isn’t for anyone but for someone who is looking for a goal this year I would honestly consider running one. There are many across the country with varying difficulty and support and a few minutes research can find your first Ultra too!