How to Train for Your First Ultra Marathon

The Last Minute Details

1. Get lots of sleep two nights before your ultra. You will not likely sleep well the night before, and it won't matter if you got lots the night before that. Get everything organized the night before. You will sleep better.

2. Carb load.

3. Get there early. You will need to use the bathroom once or twice.

4. Hydrate before the run.

5. Keep calm and relaxed at the starting line. You're not going to win the race, you just want to finish. Enjoy the moment.

The Race

1. Start slowly; it's a long run. Start even more slowly than a marathon.

2. Walk steep hills, especially in the first half. Instead of running, power walk. You won't lose much time, and you will conserve valuable energy for later.

3. Breathe. You should be using long, relaxed, deep breaths. If you are huffing and puffing, you are going too fast. Slow down, relax and breathe deeply.

4. If somebody passes you, let them go. Don't race them. Odds are you may see them later.

5. Remember to eat and drink like you did in training.

6. Have a mantra. You will need it.

7. Don't think about the whole distance. Run aid station to aid station. Walk through the aid stations. Chat with the volunteers. It will pick you up.

8. At some point, it's going to start to hurt. This is the time to suck it up. After all, is there anything you would rather be doing on a great day like this?

Finally, remember this quote from Lance Armstrong: "Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever."

Good luck!

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Dave Reid is a Toronto-based ultra runner. You can follow him at
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