How to complete the ultra-long distance and what mistakes to avoid – says Maxim Vorobyov, coach of the Russian national ultra-marathon team.
The appeal of the ultramarathon lies in the challenge it poses to the individual. Unfortunately, much of what has already been written about the ultramarathon is based on personal opinions and information available on the Internet, and not on a scientific and physiological approach.
The ultramarathon requires exceptional endurance and the capacity of the muscles to maintain performance for several hours, even several days. Not only the physical preparation is of great importance, but also psychological attitude.
The ultramarathon is an adventure. Even the most outstanding runners cannot consistently perform well for several consecutive years. However, with a well-designed training cycle and mental attitude, it is entirely possible to protect yourself from catastrophic failures. After all, they can turn not only into retirement, but also into the end of a sports career.
Here I will try to briefly formulate the basic principles that will help the interested runner not only to successfully overcome the ultramarathon distance, but also to achieve good results in the future.
The tips are designed for those who have already overcome the marathon and are thinking about the prospects for the future.
1. Purpose and planning
First, you need to clearly define the ultramarathon event you want to run. It is advisable to do this no later than six months before the planned start. On this basis, you must build all the training work.
This does not mean at all that you should only train for six months without competition. On the contrary, running shorter distances, including a marathon, will help you maintain that all-important positive attitude. You should not just forget about your main goal.
To give the best in a marathon, if there is only a month or even less left before the main start, it will be impractical.
Calendar of races and marathons in Russia 2020
2. Calm and perseverance
The human body is so arranged that it cannot constantly improve its physical performance. A period of recovery will inevitably be followed by a downturn.
It is important not to pay too much attention to it and not make a tragedy of a temporary decrease in your results, but to calmly carry out the planned training program. Unless, of course, the deterioration in performance is not associated with miscalculations in training or with diseases.
3. At least 1 long workout per week
To complete an ultramarathon, you have to run a lot. The total mileage, monthly and weekly, is also important here. But the distance you cover continuously during a training session is of particular importance.
We can say with certainty: if the longest training is less than 35 km, you will not run an ultramarathon. Is it only 50 km – and at the same time you will feel severe torment at the end of the distance.
4. Day and sleep regimen, nutrition
Many athletes are rather irresponsible about this component of our lives – and completely to no avail. The wrong mode, lack of sleep can play a cruel joke when serious stresses on the body begin, without which it is impossible to overcome the ultramarathon. Especially distances of 100 km or more.
Do not forget about full and high-quality nutrition, which replenishes the costs of the organism during training.
5. Self-control and sports diary
If you keep a journal and use a heart rate monitor, and don’t forget to measure your resting heart rate, you can avoid many problems associated with overtraining. Even if they appear, you will still have the opportunity to analyze your training and draw the right conclusions to avoid similar mistakes in the future.
6. Stretch and warm up before and after a run
This rule ignores a large number of runners. Many approach it quite formally. However, running for a long time causes severe muscle stiffness which, if accumulated, can lead to injury.
Proper stretching for 10 to 15 minutes after running can help minimize this risk. For an ultra-marathoner, stretching is the key to athletic longevity.
7. Rest and recovery after training
This article echoes the daily routine, but in this case we are talking about rest after a specific workout. It is simply necessary to let the body relax after charging for at least 15-20 minutes.
After stretching and showering, after eating, it is extremely important to take a horizontal position. It will be good at the same time to raise the legs above the level of the heart and to stay in this position as long as possible.
8. Determination and emotional attitude
Here we enter the realm of psychology. If you’re not sure you can run an ultramarathon, then you won’t. You have to have a certain audacity and self-confidence to reach the start of the super marathon. At the same time, a positive attitude to overcome the distance can strengthen your motivation, which makes you endure the pain before the finish line.
9. Attention to detail
This must not be forgotten even for a minute! Any miscalculation, any error can lead to irreparable consequences. This applies to equipment, nutrition and the rate of crossing the distance.
A small but uncomfortable seam on socks or athletic shorts can cause a lot of problems. Countless examples of bloody feet illustrate this rule well.
No less clear illustration of this are the runners hobbling along the track, who took too high a pace from the start. Most of them are not meant to finish the race. Unusual eating during competitions can lead to the same serious consequences.
Careful planning of the passage of the distance, repeatedly tested equipment and strict control over the implementation of all points will help to avoid a large number of problems. I even think it is useless to talk about new sneakers worn on launch day.
10. Patience and willpower
And again about psychology. The determination must be backed by patience. It is patience that is the main quality necessary to overcome the ultramarathon. Without patience and will, it is simply impossible to run a distance of 50 km or more.
At the same time, you don’t need to overthink and focus on your inner feelings while running. In the second half of the distance, they are guaranteed not to bring you positive emotions. We must be able to ignore it.
Force yourself to think about rhythm, nutrition, anything, but don’t focus on unpleasant sensations. They just need to be patient. This skill is especially important during critical times, when the body tries with all its might to stop you from running.
The will in such moments plays a decisive role. At a distance of 100 km, this is a period of 60-80 km. Or, if we’re talking about the summit itself, the 70th kilometer. The troubles that await marathon runners at the 35th km roll gradually and concentrate here with double and triple force. It is a time of patience and willpower. If you can complete this challenge and reach the 80th km, the 100 km distance will probably be overcome.
These are the basic principles to get a feel for the world of ultramarathons. Of course, in a short article it is impossible to cover all aspects of this topic. Only the key points are laid out here, the creative approach to which can be the key to success.
I hope these tips will help you challenge the ultramarathon and unlock the unknown powers within you.