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Beyond the Marathon
Training to Run © 2003 Michael Schreiber

Q. “Dear Mad Dog Mike: Is ultra-running good for you? I mean, eegads, 50 or a hundred miles! Zack”
A. “I don’t run them because they’re good for me, I run them because I love them.  You know, the same reason I drink Guinness Stout!”

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50 Kilometers: Ultras begin with the 50k (31 mile) distance, which usually requires no additional training beyond what you would practice in preparation for a marathon (42k / 26.2 miles).

Run/Walk: While the 50k doesn’t require specific training changes, it may require a change in running pattern...a pattern that combines moderate periods of running, with short walking breaks.

It’s very important, if you use this run/walk system, you do not wait until you are tired before you start walking - by then it’s too late.

I suggest you begin your first ultra with about five miles of continuous running (to warm up), then switch to a run/walk pattern. You might try 4 minutes of running and one minute of brisk walking to start.

Later in the race, if you feel yourself getting overly tired, you could switch the pattern to 3 and 1 or even 2 and 1. Whatever the length of the running periods, it’s fairly important to keep the walks to no more than one minute each - any longer, and you will begin to stiffen-up, and lose your psychological momentum.

50 Miles (and beyond): Ultras of fifty miles or longer, require more arduous training than the marathon or the 50k.

When I was preparing for the Laurel Highlands Trail Mountain Challenge, my weekend long training runs stretched to over five hours.  In addition, I performed myriad (non-running) exercises, and wore both ankle weights and wrist weights, and sometimes a weighted backpack throughout the day - every waking minute was a type of conditioning.

Quite beyond the physical exercises (and every bit as important), I spent months “psyching-up,” and developing mental images of invulnerability.

If you would like to prepare for an ultra, and make yourself “bullet proof,” send me your question by e-mail, and I’ll come to the rescue.

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The information in the website is one man’s opinion only.  Before beginning any new exercise or nutrition program, consult with your doctor. Then, the decision to proceed, or no, is yours alone.

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