Do I really want to do an Ultra?

Hi All,

I am trying to choose my next spring marathon and nothing is really appealing.

I have a vague goal of completing all the Major’s with only Tokyo and Boston left but I have some way to go (if ever) before I am fast enough to qualify.

Then the London to Brighton Ultra popped up on my MyFace page and I am interested in this as a challenge.

My question is how will Ultra training effect my marathon goals?  Will all the long slow miles help with my aerobic base and help me reach my goals, or will my speed suffer?

My last training plan was from the Advanced Marathoning book, up to 55 to 70 mile plan.



  • lowrezlowrez ✭✭✭

    Hi Super Moo, I don't train much different from a marathon programme for the ultras I run. I am not too fast anyway mind you; haven't managed to get into Boston yet but have all the rest. I know several people swifter than me that have gained Boston whilst doing ultras and other marathons. I find it very satisfying running long, a lot of the courses are slower because of terrain. You can loop 26 miles around a flattish city purely on road and get a fast time. But you don't typically get the same ideal from London to Brighton etc. Your marathon speed, or base speed on good flat road will remain a function of the training you do, keep to the AM55/70 and you won't lose anything. You will gain a lot from ultras in my opinion though, both in endurance, and in mind.

  • Hi Lowrez,

    Thanks for the reply.

    Might go have another look at the London to Brighton webpage...


  • 'Doing' an Ultra is easy.  

    With a little training, most anyone can jog for a long time.

    Given you're self-admittedly a long way from reaching Boston qualifying, I wouldn't worry too much about 'losing speed'.  Don't take this the wrong way, but if you aren't at Boston qualifying speed, your aren't fast in the first place.

    From the scant info in your post, it sounds like you'll either continue with marathons, or become a back-of-the-pack Ultra type.

    Personally, I'd suggest you work on a fast 10K time.  This will help your marathon performance no end.

    But could you 'do' the Ultra?  Yes.


    It would be easier to give a more definite answer if you stated your marathon times in the past year.




  • Hi 80'sMountainRunner,

    I've run five marathons to date.  First was in April 2014 just under the 4 hour mark.  Due to conditions and decisions I made on the day (heat/crowded courses) for the next three they have been similar times.

    Ran Berlin this year in 3h35.  So I would say this is more representative of where I am now.  Half marathon this year time is 1h37.

    Been running for around 5 years now, 40 to 44 age group.

  • Your times are reasonable.

    I assume a marathon is the furthest distance you've ran thus far?  

    I'd suggest a different Ultra, as 100K is quite a step up from marathon.  

    At the very least, do a 50-miler for training, and see how you fare.  

    Add lots of trail running into the mix.  Get used to running with wet feet.  


    And also go hillwalking - purely to get used to being on your feet for a long time (I'd suggest you do some hillwalks around the 12-hr mark.  If everywhere local to you is too short, do the same circuit a few times.  But definitely reach double figures for walking).  

    Getting used to carrying a pack through walking will also help when it comes to the Ultra.  


    PS add the above to your training on top of what you're presently doing.  


    Word of caution: many become 'Kamikaze' Ultra runners, don't have an adequate base, and destroy their body during the event.  Many also end up with bad damage to hamstrings/ligaments etc.


    Most also wear super-cush shoes (i.e. Hoka) - which will allow you to run through bad form.  Be very weary of this: you could be running yourself into major trouble.  I'm not saying go minimalist; but be weary of a super-high stack height masking an underlying form issue with respect your running.  The end result could be a major injury that takes you out of the game for a long time. 


    Yes, you could likely go do the event just now - but if you want to enjoy it, try adding the above to your training.


    All best 



  • Hi 80'sMountainRunner,

    Thank you for the advice.  

    Going to have a ponder.


  • 5 marathons isn't much to say that you're a long way off qualifying for Boston etc. You could easily do more marathons per year and see the times improve.
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