28 Tips for Improving Your Ultra Running Experience - Ultra Trail Running - A Collection

28 Tips for Improving Your Ultra Running Experience

This is a fun list of tips for improving your overall ultra running experience. Most of these will directly transfer to road running of course but you’ll figure that out as you drift down the list. I’ve taken a moment to share my own comments for each. Perhaps you can do the same in the comments. Any how, all credit for this piece goes to the original authour here: Mile27 Personal Training

27 Tips for Improving Your Ultra Running Experience

Many ultrarunners like to keep it simple; put shoes on, head out the door and run. There is nothing wrong with that approach but if you want to improve then the body has to have the right stimulus to force it to adapt and become stronger.

Elite athletes aim to leave no stone unturned in training. They do all they can to provide the body with the right stimulus and recovery to maximise their training. Whilst many of us don’t have the time to focus on training that some of the elites do most of us could improve in a number of ways with very little if any extra time involved.

Below are 27 ways you can improve your running that don’t need much if any extra time. See how many of these you can implement in your training program.

1. Know when to run hard and when to ease up. Many runners run their easy sessions too hard and that means their hard sessions aren’t hard enough.

I’m still figuring this one out.

2. Spend more time working on your weaknesses – whether its speed, uphills, downhills, stairs, trails – whatever it is spend more time doing it rather than avoiding it.

This is a great tip. Pretty much all of the above for me here. :)

3. Build up the elevation of your training runs so it matches that of the race you are training for. If there is 400m per 10k in the race then that’s what you should aim for in training. Even it the only way you can do that is to run up and down the same hill for hours.

I’ve read this ‘a lot’. Some nutters even use hypobaric chambers when there are no big hills in the area. Hardcore.

4. Stop static stretching – its a waste of time.

Definitely DON’T do this before a race or run! However after a run some light stretching seems perfectly fine; this tip might be a tad misleading but a hot topic none the less. Thoughts? But for pre-workout stretching, check out this crazy study.

5. Introduce dynamic stretching and do it daily instead of just when you are injured.

There you go! I do this before races. I generally just use the first few K on long runs for warmup.

6. Add a running specific strength training program to your weekly routine. Thirty minutes twice a week can make a big difference.

I am terrible at this and desperately need to get my act together.

7. Focus on running during every hard run. Dwelling on work problems during a hard run isn’t going to help your running.

Believe me, I try…

8. Practice staying positive in every run no matter how bad you feel.

See above, hehe.

9. Smile when the going gets tough, you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

That’s easy for you to say! Okay, I realize this will help; see comment 7.

10. Step outside your comfort zone and choose some races that will show up your weaknesses.

Interesting point. The only reason I got into this sport was to push my limits. Started with MTB marathon races and now ultras.

11. Make getting 7-8 hours sleep a priority.

No problem, I can totally do this. :)

12. Stop eating processed food and increase your fruit and vegetable intake.

*Raises hand; No meat athlete. Although I still struggle with sugary things…

13. Include walking in your training – you do it in a race so practice it in training. It’s a big component of ultra running so why not train it.

That’s a very good point. As my training runs push past 30-40k this is definitely not a problem for me. It’s really important to implement the trekking elements into the long runs. Great point!

14. Next time you buy shoes try several different brands on, not just your favourites and see if there is a shoe better suited to you.

This could get really expensive. Imagine for a moment that a pair seems to fit okay but after some training they didn’t cut it on the long runs. That’s a $120-150+ mistake. On the other hand, you’ll never know unless you try.

15. Stop doing the same runs you always do and try a different route.

I like this one. It’s like never incorporating any speedplay and run at one speed your entire life. The wonderful thing about trail running is that there are always new trails to explore. Run them backwards!

16. Run with people a fraction faster than you for your hard runs and slower than you for your easy runs.

This is a really great tip! It’s very true that I’ve inadvertently run faster than planned on the slow/long runs and would like a little push on the hard runs.

17. Seek professional advice and get a personally designed running program.

:) A little coaching plug here. No worries mate!

18. Listen to your body and be prepared to have a day off or two when it needs it.

This is much harder than it sounds. You need a lot of running experience in order to learn your threshold ranges. I’m still learning mine.

19. Don’t try and run through an injury.

True, but what is injury pain and what is fatigue pain. I sometimes have trouble with this.

20. If you have a persistent injury seek professional advice sooner rather than later.


21. Do the least enjoyable sessions more often, you’ll probably benefit more from them.

Haha. I like that. We’re all do this for the suffering right, so why not seek it out a little more and desensitize ourselves to some degree. :)

22. Practice your race day nutrition plan in your long run.

Very, very wise advice.

23. Do some regular meditation to develop the ability of the mind to stay focused.

I do my meditation on hikes through the forest. Have a hard time sitting still.

24. Decrease your alcohol intake.

That’s easy; I don’t drink (anymore). :)

25. Don’t be afraid to every now and then push yourself so hard in an interval session that you can’t finish the session at the specified pace.

I like this as well. The whole point of the intervals is to push outside the ‘happy zones’. If you’ve really pushed hard and are beat; job done. Feel good about what you’ve done.

26. Running on technical trails is a skill so practice it often until it’s a skill that you have some level of competence at.

Most certainly. Shorten your stride and take it easy. Ankles get eaten up on technical trails and they also require a great deal of concentration so once you’ve run a few fresh, try them at the end of a run for some real ultra-like experiences.

27. Don’t be worried about taking a few days off if you are feeling run down. We improve through recovery and if you aren’t recovering then all you are doing is breaking down.

Another excellent point. Rest is recovery and recovery is when we achieve our gains. So many books on this subject.

*28. Read books and stories written by other ultrarunners.

This last one is from me. I think that we sometimes psyche ourselves out and let the intimidation of the race influence our mindset. The ‘race’ is almost the easiest part, it’s the hours of training and the hundreds of miles leading up to it. Read some books by some of the great runners and listen to them explain how hard their own training was, or how they felt like crap, or when they had to drop that race after 35k. We’re all human and I found it helpful to hear about other peoples trials and tribulations during training, experimenting with nutrition and their experiences in the races themselves. It connects you to the trail.

Cheers for reading!
Source: Mile27 Personal Training

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1 Response

  1. March 14, 2014

    […] like this. This list is a little bit easier to assimilate that the 27 or so that was covered in this post. What are your 5 most precious parts of your ultra training regime? They might just align with […]

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