what is ultramarathon

What is an Ultramarathon? A Foundation

December 7th, 2023

If you’re a runner, you’re probably familiar with the standard marathon distance of just over 42 km (26 miles). However, have you ever heard of an ultramarathon?

An ultramarathon is any footrace that goes beyond the traditional marathon distance and is typically longer than 50 km.

Ultra running is becoming increasingly popular, with more and more runners seeking to push their limits and challenge themselves with longer distances. These races can take place on various terrains, including roads, trails, and mountains. Some of the most popular ultramarathon races include the Comrades Marathon in South Africa, the Western States 100 in California, and the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc in Europe.

ultra trail

If you’re considering taking on an ultramarathon, it’s important to understand the physical and mental demands of running long distances. Proper training, running nutrition, and hydration are essential to completing an ultramarathon.

Additionally, it’s important to have a solid support system in place, both during training and on race day. With the right preparation and mindset, however, ultramarathons can be a rewarding and unforgettable experience.

What is an Ultramarathon?

An ultramarathon is a footrace that goes beyond the traditional marathon distance of 42km. Ultramarathons can cover a range of distances, from 50km (31 miles) to 160km (100 miles) or more. These races can take place on a variety of terrains, including roads, trails, and mountains, and can be completed in 24 hours or become multi-day events.

Common Distances and Categories

The most common ultramarathon distances are 50 km, 80 km (50 miles), 100 km, and 160km. Races are often categorised by distance and terrain, with categories such as ‘road,’ ‘trail,’ and ‘mountain.’

Multi-day events are also popular in the ultramarathon community, with races lasting anywhere from two to ten days. During these events, ultra runners cover a set distance each day, often camping overnight between stages.

Key Ultramarathon Races

Some of the most well-known ultramarathons include the Marathon des Sables, Comrades Marathon, and Western States Endurance Run. The Marathon des Sables is a six-day, 251km race through the Sahara Desert in Morocco. The Comrades Marathon is a 90km race in South Africa that has been held annually since 1921. The Western States Endurance Run is a 160km race through the Sierra Nevada mountains in California.

Ultramarathon Races

In addition to these key races, there are countless other ultramarathons held around the world each year. Some ultra races are timed events, such as 24-hour, 12-hour, and 6-hour races, where ultra runners complete as many laps of a course as possible within the allotted time.

Overall, ultramarathons are a challenging and rewarding way to push your limits and explore the world of long-distance running.

Preparing for an Ultramarathon

Preparing for an ultramarathon requires a well-planned training program and a solid race day strategy. In this section, we will cover the training essentials and race day strategy to help you prepare for your ultramarathon.

Training Essentials

Training for an ultramarathon race requires a lot of dedication and hard work. Your training program should include a mix of strength training, long runs, and interval training. Your ultramarathon training plan should also include cross-training activities such as yoga or swimming to help improve your overall fitness.

Strength training is an essential part of your training program. It helps to build the muscles and improve your endurance. You should focus on exercises that target your lower body, core, and upper body. Squats, lunges, planks, and push-ups are some of the best exercises for ultramarathon runners.

Long runs are an essential part of your training program. You should gradually increase your mileage each week and aim to complete at least one long run per week. Your long runs should be at a comfortable pace and should simulate the terrain of your ultramarathon.

Race Day Strategy

On race day, you should have a solid race day strategy to help you finish strong. It is important to pace yourself and not go out too fast. You should also have a nutrition plan and hydrate regularly throughout the race.

Aid stations are available along the course to provide you with water, electrolyte drinks, and snacks like energy gels and energy bars. Take advantage of these aid stations and refuel as needed. You should also carry your own hydration pack or water bottle to ensure that you stay hydrated throughout the race.

Elevation gain is another factor to consider on race day. You should be prepared for the terrain and adjust your pace accordingly. It is also important to have a positive mindset and stay motivated throughout the race.

Prepare With Pure Running

Preparing for an ultramarathon requires a well-planned training program and a solid race day strategy. By incorporating strength training, long runs, and interval training into your training program, you can improve your endurance and build the muscles needed for ultramarathon running. On race day, pace yourself, hydrate regularly, and refuel at aid stations to help you finish strong. For the right equipment to get you off on the right foot, head to Pure Running where we’ve sourced equipment as runners specifically for runners.