How To Start Ultra Running

Ultra running, the sport of running distances longer than a marathon, has gained popularity in recent years. It is not just a physical challenge, but also a mental and emotional journey. As someone who has embarked on this adventure, I can attest to the incredible rewards and personal growth that come from pushing your limits and conquering the trails. In this article, I will share my personal insights and provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to start ultra running. So, lace up your shoes, and let’s dive in!

1. Set Clear Goals

Before you hit the trails, it’s essential to define your goals. Ask yourself: why do you want to start ultra running? Is it to challenge yourself, explore nature, or prove that you can go the extra mile? Having clear objectives will keep you motivated during training and races. Set both short-term and long-term goals, such as completing a specific race distance or improving your overall endurance and speed. Remember, your goals should be personal and meaningful to you.

2. Build a Strong Foundation

Ultra running requires a solid base of fitness. Start by incorporating regular running into your routine, gradually increasing your mileage each week. Focus on building your endurance before worrying about speed. Include a mix of easy runs, long runs, and hill training to develop strength and stamina. Cross-training activities, such as cycling or swimming, can complement your running and prevent injury.

3. Train Smart

As you progress in your training, it’s crucial to train smart and avoid overexertion. Listen to your body and give yourself enough time to recover between workouts. Incorporate rest days into your schedule to prevent burnout and allow your muscles to repair. Consider working with a running coach or joining a local running group to receive guidance and support along your journey.

4. Nutrition and Hydration

Proper nutrition and hydration are key to fueling your body for the demands of ultra running. Eat a balanced diet consisting of lean proteins, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Hydrate adequately before, during, and after your runs to maintain optimal performance. Experiment with different fueling strategies, such as gels, energy bars, or real-food options, to find what works best for you.

5. Gear and Equipment

Investing in the right gear and equipment can greatly enhance your ultra running experience. Start with a good pair of trail running shoes that provide adequate support and traction. Consider purchasing a hydration pack or belt to carry water, snacks, and other essentials during long training runs and races. Dress appropriately for the weather and terrain, opting for moisture-wicking and breathable clothing.

6. Practice Mental Toughness

Ultra running is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. Prepare yourself mentally for the challenges ahead. Develop strategies to cope with fatigue, self-doubt, and pain during long races. Visualization, positive affirmations, and breaking the race into smaller manageable segments can help you stay focused and motivated. Surround yourself with a supportive network of fellow runners or join online communities to share your experiences and gain inspiration.

7. Start Small and Progress Gradually

When it comes to choosing your first ultra race, start small and gradually increase the distance as your fitness improves. A 50k (31 miles) or 50-mile race can be a good starting point for many runners. Remember, it’s not just about the finish line but the journey itself. Enjoy the process, learn from each race, and celebrate each milestone along the way.


Embarking on the journey of ultra running can be a transformative experience. It requires dedication, perseverance, and a passion for pushing your limits. By setting clear goals, building a strong foundation, training smart, nourishing your body, investing in the right gear, practicing mental toughness, and starting small, you can conquer the trails and embrace the extraordinary world of ultra running. So, take that first step, believe in yourself, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure.