Ultra Marathon....a distant dream?

Hi all,

 Please don't slate me too much. I know for an Ultra you have to be organised and dedicated.

I have started running again after a few years out. I have taken it real slowly and letting my body catch up with me. I'm doing 2 HM end of April then a Marathon end of May. I don't think these will be a problem as long as I stay injury free. If the truth be known I am looking to hopefully get to a level where i can do some ultra Marathons. Now I was wondering.... this year I am going to take part in a few Marathons, HM etc and get as many under my belt as possible. Now would it be reasonable to think next year to do an Ultra? Would it be best to book a place now and work towards it? If so are their any good ones to start off with in the South West of England?

Thanks and apologies if this question has been ask a thousand times but really I thought its best to start thinking about this now, so any advice would be appreciated




  • Seems reasonable to me, an ultra is pretty much anything longer than a marathon, so if you can manage a marathon well enough then you should be fine with just a few tweaks to your training.
    I don't see the need to sign up for next year already. Don't wish your life away, as my mum used to say. Enjoy the events you are doing this year, focus on them, and see if the desire is still there afterwards, in which case you can spend the winter looking for your ideal first ultra.
    There's no rush in the ultra world.
    In terms of events, just use the events tab on this site, or Google, or just keep your eye on these forums and you'll find the one for you.
  • Indeed, if you can run a marathon, you can a mile further. You might have a look at the LDWA calendar for events near you.
  • TheVicar wrote (see)

     I know for an Ultra you have to be organised and dedicated.

    No you don't, just get out there and run and enjoy it image
  • Agreed image ^^^
  • Off the back of marathon training you will be fine for a 33 mile run.  Marlborough Challange is one I did last year and plan to do again this year - 12th of May this year so maybe a bit before the marathon?

    I am in the South West too.  What Marathon / halfs have you entered?

  • Seems reasonable to me. Yeah Ive seen a few 50k's advertised here and there, that might be a good place to start. Ill take whats said on board I though tit might be worth thinking sooner rather than later. Seeing as I have just really taken up running seriously, how long realistically will it be before I could take up an ultra training programme. Just been looking at a 50 k one and its usually 5 days a week with a 24miler on a staurday and a 16miler on a Sunday, as an example! I know its asking how long is a piece of string and how well your body adapts etc. But how long do people usually take to build up to an ultra is probably what I'm getting at? Do you have to be running for years and years?
  • Not at all, miles in the bank help, but 3 years ago I didn't run at all, and I've now done marathons an ironman and a 50 mile ultra, and I would probably be considered tardy in getting around to it compared to most on here. Listen to your body and you'll know when you're ready.
  • Plenty of people have skipped marathon altogether, and gone half marathon then ultra. 

    Once you can do a 20 mile training run, you can actually complete most ultras. 

  • Lee, it doesn't take "years and years". This time last year I was training for a HM (my third ever), injured myself and was unable to run for nearly four months. Beginning of June 2011 the physio was letting me run 25-30 mins gently three times/week. On Sunday I completed my first 50K... I'd worked up to mostly five runs/week (sometimes four, if I'd tweaked something and needed a couple of days off, not just one) and my training peaked with a 27.25 mile run followed by a 10-mile the next day. I'll be running my first marathon in April (just to prove Ben's point about going from HM to ultra). Can point you to a couple of different 50K training schedules if you want
  • hello again

    you could take a look at the endurance life website,http://www.endurancelife.com/event.asp?series=54

    there are some stunning  coastal trail runs, from 10k up to Ultra marathon. I am planning on trying the Dorset one if its on again at the end of the year (once i have recovered from the VLM!)

    Or what about  the Jurassic Coast Challenge http://www.votwo.co.uk/_webapp_1205242/Jurassic_Coast_Challenge_2012

    3 marathons in three days, or as the strapline says "78.6 miles, 3 days, 2 feet"

    sorry that these are all trail runs, but I really like trail running so these are the only ones i have heard about!
    I don't think you are being too ambitious,  its good to challenge yourself, as Edmund Hillary said 'its not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves'

  • Cheers guys for all the positive replies. Any training schedules will be of use because I can use them to guage where I am at and where I ought to be going. i saw the Jurassic coast one and thats something I would be very interested in next year as the course is 15 miles from my house. See Debra I find that amazing being able to run that far with no recovery day straight into a 10 miler. I just presume your body adapts? I eat well I sleep well I dont drink etc  (Just a little on Sunday mornings lol) But I just dont think my body can accept that lol
  • Some good advice on here Vicar, I'm running my first ultra this year and am really looking forward to it! I've ran marathons but only did one race last year - the Royal Parks half - enjoy your running and don't worry about it!!
  • I thought the Jurassic Coast one looked good too, and also I have walked all of the course at one time or another (not all at once though!)
  • I'm doing the Exe to Axe in April, only 20 miles, but decent ultra training as it's hilly and on trails, fancy joining me on that one?
  • Aah the Exe to Axe, really enjoyed that one!  Just went to check the date, but clashes with the White Horse half - must do it again though.  Went out too fast and paid for it by the time I got to Branscombe! 

  • I believe it gets pretty tough in the second half? Any tips?
  • I've not heard of that one before? Sounds interesting. Seems like quite a nice local run image Possibly could have my arm trwisted. As long as i can get out the Church that morning. Can't we all go running on Saturdays instead lol image
  • Lots of ultras are run on Saturdays.
    Consider a virtual arm-twisting in progress.
  • Good run, take it easy on the first half as the bigger hills come in the second.  Muddy in the first half when I ran it with a couple of slippery hills. 

    If the sun comes out it can be really scenic with great views over the sea.  Enjoy over taking the day trippers on the hills!  The gap between the Sidmouth cp and the Branscombe one is quite long so fill up on water etc at Sidmouth.  Once you are up over the hill at Branscombe then the one at Beer feels like nothing and then you are home!

    Watch out for grannies and people walking with out a care along the seafront - towards the end your reflexes are not as sharp!

    Would love to do it again!  Took me around 4 hours - compared to a flat 20 miles in around 2H40 as a guide.

  • Go for it Vicar!  To be honest I found the 33 miler easier than the marathon as you run at a more relaxed pace with more people to chat to and get / give support to.

  • Great stuff, RB, thanks for that, I was kind of expecting it to take around the same time as a marathon. I'm looking forward to it, Duchy marathon in between.
  • Not at all is this too ambitionous,  I have been running just over a year now.  This year I am planning on 9 marathon and 3 ultras in a 12-12-12 thing im doing.   Just take your time and do not get obsessed with times.   My first marathon last year I was obsessed with going sub 4 and did not enjoy it as much.

    Also correct with If I am wrong but I think the general rule for ultra training is to do back to back totalling more than the distance,  So for 35 miles do 20 Saturday and 16 Sunday/

  • Cheers Spen that makes some sense I suppose. IE if you couldnt do it over 2 days what chance have you other one!. Good point image Its good to hear you say that because I looked at the whole ultra thing as people who have been doing it a long time. Plus I like your comment Running Bench about the further you go the more relaxed you are. ive heard that a few times
  • hello 'the vicar'image ...we are popping up all over now to give you helpful advice! i too have only been running a short while and did 2 HMs last year and a mara last month..now the rest of my events for ths year are  mostly ultrasimage so it can be done!

    i think the hey is definately to enjoy the ultra scene. and as Tiago said, take your time, in choosing events and in running them. i found 10K  and HMs good training but there isnt really a social scene. ultras have a much smaller community and very friendly. plenty of hours to chat to the people you are runnung withimage

    i did my first marathon with the aim of finishing comfortably and not getting too stuck on beating a time-im glad i did as i really really  really enjoyed it and couldnt have asked for a better first marathon.image..im hoping my first ultra in may will be the same. if you pop over to the newbie ultra thread most of us who have posted above are on ther...you will be very welcome there , Loula

  • Vicar, i've been running regulary since 1988 and am an ultra newbie! Been a 10k runner, then halfs and marathons and now ultras!!

    You should move to Northern Ireland, we hardly have any races on sundays and a couple of years ago there was an outcry when they thought of moving the Belfast marathon to a sunday!!

    Good luck!

  • Ultras are within your reach. I did my first ultra by accident.
    Ran as a pacer for a friend doing the 73 mile Dartmoor Round intending to run 12miles carrying his food and navigating. Found myself in the pub some hours later having got carried away and ran 50 miles! Never done more than 20miles previously. Been hooked ever since.
    Just enjoy your running aim only to finish . If you are not enjoying the view you are running too fast(especially in devon/dorset.
  • Thanks Loula for that very encouraging. Thats what I like to hear that theirs a bit of camaraderie going on too. That to me is very important.

    Whitehead runner, lol I didnt know that-But i'm not surprised image

    Hi Ian thanks for that. It definitely seems doable and not out of reach. I have a long way to go before I can do it but its very encouraging hearing other peoples stories

     Just been chatting to a friend who says he is running the Liberty trail from Yeovil to Lyme Regis this July. 28 miles in all. So I may aim for that. Its a lot of trail running so I'm not sure if that will be different training as to road running?

  • Nights are drawing out now so it is easier to get on the trails.  Even around parks help.

  • Yes, you want to do as much of your training as possible on surfaces similar to the ones you'll be meeting on the day - particularly, the surface for your long runs should be similar. I'm intending to spend a lot of the summer driving or taking the train out to the North Downs Way to practice running along that before the NDW50 in August, and much of my second long run and midweek longish runs with the club will be offroad during the summer.
  • Right if all goes well and once its confirmed I have a nice little jog in June along the liberty trail as mentioned above. its not a race or anything like it. It seems to be a group of runners getting together for a easy days running. Their will be check points along where you can bail out for a bit if your getting a bit leggy. i thought this would be an ideal place to start. But as I said its not been confirmed. However because its not going to be all out going as fast as possible,  their will be time to stop and eat etc. So I don't look like a plank what should I bring with me for lunch? Also would it be worth getting a hydration back pack thingy. In the army we called them camelbaks but obviously that's a brand. Would be a good idea I thought to carry keys and wallets etc.. Basically I am going to be out all day. I know it sounds like a daft question. But When I go running at moment I just take myselfimage I just don't want to over look anything....
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