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Ultrarunning: Experiences From 100-mile Trail Races


Ultrarunning is defined as running anything longer than a marathon (26.2 miles). But ultraruns are commonly 50- or 100-mile races, and are often run on trails and in mountainous terrain.

Basic Training

One hundred-milers don't require running that distance during training. The key is to get to the starting line fresh and injury free. Logging 50 or 60 miles a week in the six months before the race is enough. Try to include six or seven runs in excess of six hours and at least one 50-miler about two months before the race. Getting used to being on your feet for extended periods of time is important. Train wearing the equipment you plan to wear during the race, such as a fuel belt or pack that will hold water bottles and items such as nutrition bars and blister remedies.

Practice Walking

Only the most elite runner will run the entire course. A strong walker can rest muscle groups while losing little time. Many a walker has passed a struggling runner late in a race.

Eating and Drinking

Runners should determine what food and drink works in training and then make sure that it will be at medical/supply checkpoints along the course. Options should include water, sports drinks, energy bars, and energy gels.

Cross-Training

Consider cross-training using weights and incorporating other activities, such as swimming or biking. The weight training can help maintain technique even during the late stages of a race when the miles and hours have affected pace, form, and resolve.

No Guarantees

Even the most talented and well-conditioned runner can fall victim to the trail, the weather, and the distance. Understand that every race has elements that may be out of your control.

Using a Pacer

Most races allow pacer runners from about 50 miles on. The pacer provides company, encouragement, and protection from the often treacherous terrain through the long night.

Going Long

Most average runners can meet the hundred mile challenge, given a determined commitment to develop an proper ultrarunning base, a willingness to maintain a positive attitude during training and competition, and the tenacity to endure the tough situations that always arise during a race.

RESOURCES:

American Ultrarunning Association
http://www.americanultra.org

International Association of Athletics Federation
http://www.iaaf.net

References:

Ultrarunning. International Association of Athletics Federation website. Available at: http://www.iaaf.net/community/athletics/ultrarunning/index.html. Accessed October 22, 2013.



Last reviewed October 2013 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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