How do you run an Ultra Trail Marathon?
Completing an ultra marathon seems like an tremendous task. My brother recently finished the Afton Trail Run. I applaud his heroic efforts. This is a grueling 50k (31.1 miles) race, through beautiful Afton State park near Hastings Minnesota. It might seem impossible to run farther than the 26.2 miles of a marathon, but he is proof it can be done.
From talking with him, and some of my own research, I have three questions I need to find answers to before attempting such a feet.
1. Distance and Pacing
Obviously running farther is more difficult if you’re not used to it. This seems like it would be the biggest challenge – then again I never thought I could run a marathon.
How do you setup a training plan?
Also, anytime you change your race distance, you should change your pacing strategy. You wouldn’t run a 5k at the same pace as a marathon. But how do you pace for something as unprecedented as 31.1 miles? What’s more, because of the hilly terrain, you can’t directly translate your road times. Figuring out a realistic goal is probably a good place to start.
2. Fueling Correctly
While running a half or full marathon, I generally know how to fuel during the race.
How is that affected when you’re tacking on another 10k?
Naturally you will need to replace more calories and fluids than ever before.
And how do you carry all of that extra fuel with you?
Figure out how to fuel for longer distances by practicing on shorter ones. It is important to experiment with different food/fluid combinations in training.
3. Trails mess with your Footing and Speed
Running on trails is totally different from road racing. I’ve done a few short trail runs, and at times you’re slogging along at 12 minute pace, and other times you’re flying at sub six. You also have the undulating, uneven terrain to content with. Rocks, roots, mud and water all provide an added challenge – if running 31 miles isn’t challenging enough. Shoes play a large role in this.
Trail running shoes (I’m told) make all the difference in the world.
Trail running can be a welcome and exciting change of pace from your normal routine. Completing an ultra marathon can be equally exciting to see how far you can push you body. It’s clear that before I attempt one of these, I need to figure out answer to my basic questions above.