It goes without saying that completing an ultra marathon is no easy feat but you don't have to be superhuman to attempt one.
With a few handy tips, a dose of common sense and a committed attitude, an ultra marathon can be yours for the taking.
By definition, an ultra marathon is anything more than a marathon distance (26.2 miles) so make sure you understand the distance you're required to complete when choosing an event.
Have a training plan - training for an ultra mostly involves building up the time spent on your feet and conditioning your body to endure greater distances. Most training plans will be a mix of shorter mid week runs and longer weekend runs, sometimes back to back, so be sure to select a plan that is realistic in terms of how it fits around work and family commitments.
Experiment with different types of kit and nutrition during your training runs, not on race day. This rule applies to anything from 5km to 100km and beyond... run smart!
Cross training is a great way to break the monotony of long training runs but also key to good endurance. Hit the gym or a yoga/pilates class to strengthen your core muscles and give your body a good stretch, your muscles will thank you for it.
Most ultra events will issue a kit list, some are obligatory and others are just a guide.This could be anything from blister plasters to a compass, just make sure you're fully prepared when it comes to race day, for your own peace of mind if nothing else.
Pre-race nerves are inevitable but just remind yourself that you've already done the hard work, now all you have to do is go out there and enjoy what you love doing!
To strategise or not; much like a birth plan, it's nice to have a strategy in place but be prepared for all to go completely differently to how you originally envisaged it. You might want to consider walking up hills or adapting a run:walk approach to conserve energy.
Fuel, fuel fuel! Make the best of the check points, you've got a long way to go and you'll need to take on board as much energy as you can manage. Don't leave it to the point that you're starting to struggle before you do anything about it, stay one step ahead the whole way.
Most important of all, enjoy it! Ultra marathons are populated by some weird and wonderful characters, all with their own stories of how they came to explore the same challenge as you.
Unless you're an elite runner busting a gut against their peers, most people will be grateful for a bit of a natter to help pass the time.
Everyone has their own post race ritual but one thing that everyone needs is refuelling. You've burnt some serious calories and your muscles are pretty battered so take on plenty of carbohydrates to replenish your energy levels and protein to promote muscle repair.
Prepare for exhaustion like you've never felt before! You've put your body through an epic workout so be kind to yourself and allow time to recover; book a massage, check in with your physio, sleep! Don't be surprised if you're still feeling tired a good 2 or 3 weeks later.
Never say never! Do you vaguely remember muttering something about 'never again' just as you stumbled across the finish line, but now find yourself browsing through ultra events? Embrace it. Now you are an ultra runner.
I know someone who did an ultra-marathon in Snowdonia. It sounded brilliant and I was very inspired to do one, but he said he'd never do another one after!
I also like the idea of an ultra-marathon, but wouldn't like to do one on my own. And I don't know anyone else who wants to do one either. Maybe we should get together Mike!
I know a lot of people who have done marathons, but no one who has done an ultra-marathon. Must be a big sense of achievement when you do one. Well done!
I would like to do one of these but not sure I would ever find the time for training. I would be interested to know how many hours she puts in during the weeks beforehand.