How To Train For Ultra Running

How to Train for Ultra Running


Ultra running, also known as ultramarathon, is a challenging form of long-distance running that goes beyond the traditional marathon distance of 42.195 kilometers (26.2 miles). Ultra races can range from 50 kilometers (31.1 miles) to over 160 kilometers (100 miles) and often take place on a variety of terrains, including trails, mountains, and roads.

Training for ultra running requires a unique approach and a high level of physical and mental preparation. In this article, we will explore the essential aspects of training for ultra running and provide valuable tips and guidance to help you successfully conquer the challenges of this demanding sport.

Setting Goals

Setting goals is an essential part of ultra running training. Define what you want to achieve and establish specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based (SMART) goals. This will help you stay focused and motivated throughout your training journey.

Building a Base

Before diving into the intense training required for ultra running, it’s important to build a solid foundation. Gradually increase your mileage and develop endurance by incorporating longer runs into your routine. Start with a comfortable distance and gradually increase it each week.

Varying Terrain

Ultra races often take place on a variety of terrains, so it’s essential to train on different surfaces. Include trail runs, road runs, and hill training in your routine to prepare your body for the challenges it may encounter during a race.

Strength Training

Strength training plays a crucial role in ultra running. It helps improve your running economy, reduces the risk of injuries, and enhances overall performance. Include exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, and core work in your training regimen.

Long Runs

Long runs are a key component of ultra running training. Gradually increase the duration of your long runs to build endurance and mental resilience. Practice fueling and hydrating strategies during these runs to simulate race conditions.

Hill Training

Hills are a common feature in ultra races, so hill training is essential. Incorporate hill repeats, both uphill and downhill, into your training to improve leg strength and cardiovascular fitness. This will also help you develop mental toughness when faced with challenging climbs during a race.

Rest and Recovery

Rest and recovery are as important as training itself. Make sure to include rest days in your training schedule to allow your body to heal and adapt. Listen to your body and adjust your training as needed to prevent overtraining and reduce the risk of injuries.

Nutrition and Hydration

Proper nutrition and hydration are essential for successful ultra running training. Fuel your body with a well-balanced diet that includes carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats. During long runs, practice your race-day nutrition and hydration strategies to fine-tune your fueling plan.

Mental Preparation

Ultra running requires mental toughness and resilience. Practice visualization techniques, set positive affirmations, and develop strategies to overcome challenges during a race. Training your mind is just as important as training your body.


Tapering is a crucial phase in ultra running training. Reduce your training volume and intensity in the weeks leading up to a race to allow your body to recover and reach peak performance on race day. Trust in your training and avoid the temptation to squeeze in extra workouts during this period.

Injury Prevention

Preventing injuries is essential for a successful ultra running journey. Gradually increase your mileage, listen to your body, and address any pain or discomfort promptly. Incorporate cross-training activities such as swimming or cycling to reduce the impact on your joints and muscles.

Race-Day Strategies

On race day, stick to your race-day strategies. Avoid trying new gear, nutrition, or pacing strategies that you haven’t practiced during training. Trust in your training and stay focused on your goals throughout the race.

Recovery After a Race

After completing an ultra race, prioritize recovery. Give your body ample time to recover by engaging in active recovery activities such as light stretching, walking, and gentle cycling. Properly refuel with nutritious foods to aid in muscle repair and replenish energy stores.


1. How long does it take to train for an ultra marathon?

The duration of training for an ultra marathon can vary depending on your fitness level and the distance of the race. Generally, it is recommended to allow at least 16-20 weeks of dedicated training for an ultra marathon.

2. Do I need to have prior marathon experience to train for an ultra marathon?

While prior marathon experience can be beneficial, it is not a requirement for training for an ultra marathon. However, it is important to have a solid running base and gradually build up your mileage before embarking on ultra running training.

3. How should I choose my first ultra marathon race?

When choosing your first ultra marathon race, consider factors such as location, terrain, distance, and race organization. Start with a race that aligns with your current fitness level and goals, and gradually progress to more challenging races as you gain experience.

4. What should I eat during long training runs for an ultra marathon?

During long training runs, it’s important to fuel your body with carbohydrates and electrolytes. Experiment with different energy gels, bars, and hydration strategies to find what works best for you. It’s also a good idea to incorporate solid food options for sustained energy.

5. How do I prevent mental burnout during ultra running training?

To prevent mental burnout during ultra running training, incorporate variety into your training routine. Vary your routes, surfaces, and terrains, and include cross-training activities to keep things interesting. Set smaller goals within your overall training plan to maintain motivation and celebrate accomplishments along the way.

6. How often should I rest during ultra running training?

Rest days should be incorporated into your training schedule to allow your body to recover and adapt. Aim for at least one or two rest days per week, depending on your individual needs and training volume.

7. How can I manage my hydration during an ultra marathon?

Managing hydration during an ultra marathon is crucial for performance and maintaining overall health. Carry a hydration pack or use aid stations along the race course to replenish fluid and electrolyte levels. Practice your hydration strategies during long training runs to fine-tune your plan.

8. How important is strength training for ultra running?

Strength training is essential for ultra running. It helps improve running economy, reduces the risk of injuries, and enhances overall performance. Incorporate regular strength training exercises that target the major muscle groups used in running.

9. What should I do if I experience an injury during ultra running training?

If you experience an injury during ultra running training, it’s important to seek medical advice and address the issue promptly. Follow a rehabilitation plan prescribed by a healthcare professional and avoid aggravating the injury further by modifying your training or taking a break from running.

10. How can I mentally prepare for the challenges of an ultra marathon?

Mental preparation is key for tackling the challenges of an ultra marathon. Practice visualization techniques, positive affirmations, and develop strategies to overcome mental hurdles during a race. Build confidence in your training and embrace the mindset of perseverance and resilience.


Training for ultra running requires a unique approach that goes beyond traditional marathon training. It involves building a solid base, mastering varying terrains, incorporating strength training, and prioritizing rest and recovery. Proper nutrition and hydration, as well as mental preparation, are essential for success. By following these guidelines and addressing frequently asked questions, you can embark on a training journey that prepares you for the challenges of ultra running and helps you achieve your goals.

Rate article
( No ratings yet )