How To Train For Ultra Running

Training for an ultra running race can be a daunting task. As someone who has completed multiple ultra marathons, I can tell you that it requires a unique blend of physical endurance, mental strength, and careful preparation. In this article, I will share my personal insights and provide detailed guidance on how to train effectively for an ultra running race.

Setting Realistic Goals

Before diving into your training plan, it’s crucial to set realistic goals. Ultra running is a significant challenge, and it’s important to recognize that finishing the race itself is a remarkable achievement. Start by determining the distance and terrain of the race you will be participating in. If you’re new to ultra running, consider starting with a shorter distance, such as a 50K, and gradually working your way up to longer distances.

Building Endurance

Building endurance is the foundation of ultra running. Your training plan should include long runs that gradually increase in duration and distance. Begin by incorporating one long run per week, starting with a distance that feels comfortable and gradually adding to it. Aim to increase your long run distance by around 10% each week. Don’t forget to listen to your body and take rest days as needed.

During your long runs, try to simulate race conditions as much as possible. If the race has a significant amount of elevation gain, incorporate hilly routes into your training. If the race takes place on trails, prioritize trail running during your training. It’s also a great idea to practice running during different times of the day to prepare for any potential weather conditions you may encounter during the race.

Strength and Cross-Training

While building endurance is crucial, it’s equally important to strengthen your muscles and prevent injuries. Incorporate strength training exercises into your weekly routine to build a solid foundation. Focus on exercises that target the muscles used during running, such as squats, lunges, and core exercises.

In addition to strength training, cross-training activities such as swimming, cycling, or yoga can help improve your overall fitness and prevent overuse injuries. These activities also provide an opportunity to give your body a break from the high-impact nature of running.

Nutrition and Hydration

Proper nutrition and hydration play a significant role in your performance during ultra running races. During training, practice fueling your body with the types of food and drink you plan to consume during the race. Experiment with different energy gels, bars, and electrolyte drinks to find what works best for you.

Hydration is particularly important during long-distance running. Make sure to carry a handheld water bottle or invest in a hydration pack to replenish fluids regularly. Practice drinking fluids during your training runs to determine the optimal hydration strategy for race day.

Mental Preparedness

Ultra running is not just a physical challenge; it’s also a mental one. During long races, you’ll experience moments of doubt and fatigue. Developing mental resilience is key to pushing through these tough times.

During training, practice visualization techniques to imagine yourself crossing the finish line and achieving your goals. Break your race into smaller, manageable chunks and focus on one milestone at a time. Surround yourself with a supportive community of fellow runners who can provide encouragement and share their own experiences.


Training for an ultra running race requires dedication, perseverance, and a well-thought-out plan. By setting realistic goals, building endurance, incorporating strength and cross-training, focusing on nutrition and hydration, and developing mental preparedness, you’ll be well on your way to crossing the finish line of your first ultra race.