Here is how to plan training for an ultramarathon

Dan Donohue
Dan Donohue

Dan Donohue, of Fitness Formation, writes about planning for an ultramarathon.

That escalated quickly! If you’ve ever taken part in an ultramarathon, you’ll know the feeling.

One minute the wheels are turning nicely and then, the next, things start to unravel.

That said, it wasn’t anything that I’d done wrong, per se. Just one of those things that happens when you run a very, very long way.

Over the last two or three weeks, I’ve been writing about how best to prepare for a race of such magnitude.

Over the next couple of weeks or so, I’ll give you my take on how the day itself went and what I would do differently the next time, so you can hopefully take something away to implement into your future training.

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And yes, there will be a next time.

The plan for the day was simple. We were to set off in a team of three and try all we could to stay together for as long as we humanly could, while covering as much ground as fast as we could in the first half of the race, knowing that it would get real very quickly in the second half of the race.

We knew that, at some point in the race, there may come a time where we’d have to bid farewell to each other and bounce.

That time came a lot earlier than we sadly had planned for. Sod’s law will dictate that you’ll breeze (maybe not the best word to use to describe training for an ultramarathon, but work with me) through training and then, when the big day arrives, previous niggles start to rear their ugly heads.

It became apparent that my two partners’ race would take longer than planned, so we made the decision at mile 27 to split and I was to push on.

I was able to cover some good ground to the next pit stop, which was pretty much set at the half-way point, where the racers would stop to re-fuel, re-fill bladders etc.

This is why we always raise the point of having those around you who want to see you succeed.

We made the decision in the days before that, if we needed to split, we would all be happy with that decision. We wanted each other to succeed.

Remember, always side with those who want to help, not hinder you. The aim was not to think of ‘finishing times, but finishing lines’.

A good line I only came across after the event had finished. Push each other towards success, not away from it.

As I touched on above, the plan was to simply finish the event. Time was not an issue, in a sense.

The pace was discussed with each other prior to the race during long training runs and in planning for each leg of the race in the days before.

We’ll continue on with this longer than usual piece of content (a bit like the race itself) in next week’s column.