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The "Don't Be Sh*t!" Series - Marathon Runner or Ultra Runner

The "Don't Be Sh*t!" Series - Marathon Runner or Ultra Runner

Why not both!?

When I decided I was going to attempt my first 100km race I was a little concerned that I may be jeopardising my chances of ever running faster over the marathon distance again.

I guess this was based on the common misconception that training for an Ultra would mean losing my natural speed.

What actually happened was the exact opposite and within 12 months of running my first 100km I also ran the two fastest marathons of my life, it turned out that Ultra training was just the stimulus that my body needed to make me an all-round better runner across all distances.

I do however follow some basic rules that I believe allow me to juggle my marathon and ultra racing well, the first and most important being not to drop your speed work when training for an ultra.

To put it simply...

The faster you can run your tempo runs, the easier your effort will be when you drop down to “Ultra pace”

In fact the only big differences in my training between an ultra and a marathon comes at the weekend when my long runs will end up longer and slightly slower. I may also add in “back to back” long runs where I perform a run of 20 miles or longer on both Saturday and Sunday.

My other main rule is to stay away from races that I know I won’t be able to finish without stopping for a picnic and a lie down! I personally believe races up to a 100km on reasonably fast terrain are a good limit before you really start having to make major modifications to your standard marathon training, that’s why you won’t have seen me at UTMB.

So, fancy giving it a go then?

Well, why not dip your toe into the world of ultra running with a 50km race.

It’s only 5 miles longer than a marathon, which makes it a perfect way to break both the mental and physical barrier of running further than a marathon.

Get your nutrition and mental preparation right and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find you don’t turn into a pumpkin at 26.3 miles.

Marathon/Ultra Speed Session

4 x parkrun (3 min jog recoveries in between)

I know what you are thinking, that’s just crazy talk surely, 4 parkrun’s!

Just like any speed session though it’s all about getting the effort levels right and then anyone is capable. The 5km efforts need to be done just a bit slower than half marathon pace with an easy jog in between.

Obviously, you don’t have to do them on your local parkrun course but I like to know I’m running the correct distance and it always gets me in the right frame of mind using a course I’m used to running fast on.

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