Training for a trail ultramarathon can be daunting, and many runners dream of running one ( or two…or three…) – but unfortunately, their dream stops there and never becomes a reality.
After asking several individuals who shared with me that they always had this dream, I wondered what had stopped them. They told me they didn't `know what running an ultramarathon, especially one on trails, entailed – and they didn't know if they were ready to take on the challenge. With that in mind, I came up with 4 Ways to Tell If You're Ready to Run a Trail Ultramarathon:
1. You Enjoy Nature, Scenery, and Being Alone – Sometimes
One of the hidden benefits of trail running is the beautiful locations you find when running--locations that most people won't ever get to see. That applies 10-fold for ultramarathon training (because it's 10 times as long! 😊 ). Naturally, in these settings, you won't have many people on the trail with you. Therefore, being able to run alone is critical.
2. You are All For Personal Growth
While you are busy training for a long race, be sure to remember "why." Why are you on this journey? What are you hoping to learn? What good things did running bring to your life? When you stop viewing your running with a pass/fail mentality and learn something new each run – especially the "bad" runs – you build the mental strength required to carry you through your ultramarathon.
3. You Enjoy Snacks – Lots of Snacks
It may seem a little silly and unimportant, but honestly…it played a part in deciding to run my first ultramarathon! Who doesn't want to run a race with Oreos, PB &J, and mashed potatoes at the aid station?? And if you are a person that likes to fuel with gels, GUs, etc., that's okay too. Ultramarathoners are a unique breed of accepting people.
4. You're in "It" for the Long Haul
Get it? Do you like my play on words? An ultramarathon is a loooong race. It takes many months to build up your endurance to last that long. The good news? There is no one day that you need to run on. If you're schedule works better if you do your long run on a Tuesday instead of a Saturday, then do it! (If you have a coach, they can help plan and figure out when you need to get in long runs, tempo work, recovery runs, etc., vs. rest days).
Even if you aren't sure if you're ready to take on an ultramarathon, take the chance and further explore the possibility. Find some good long hikes to go on, talk to someone who has run an ultramarathon, and hear about their experiences. Join a trail run club, and make that dream of running a trail ultramarathon a reality.
Coach Becky Piper is a USAT Certified LII Paratriathlon and Triathlon Coach living in Michigan with her husband Sam and her dog named Moose. She is a paratriathlete, and paracyclist, and has plans to try her hand at para-dog sled racing. Her true passion is coaching athletes to reach their best selves - both in endurance sports and beyond! Coach Becky can be reached at email@example.com.