Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’ve sworn off doing something, only to find yourself enthusiastically diving headfirst into it later? That happened to me recently when I somehow managed to sign up for a 50km, despite adamantly declaring that I wouldn’t be tackling any marathons this year. To make matters even more surprising, it wasn’t entirely my doing – a persuasive friend convinced me to take on this challenge by signing herself up.

As the shock of committing to such a distance settled in, I realised I had quite the journey ahead. With a considerable distance to conquer, I knew I needed to get serious about preparing myself physically and mentally for this ultra-marathon. The Runna app again proving a godsend. With a 20-week plan locked and loaded, I felt confident I could effectively prepare myself for the gruelling miles ahead.

Now, this isn’t my first ultra rodeo – I have covered this distance before, got myself lost, somehow added on an extra 5 miles and swore blind I’d never do it again. But here I am, thinking of all the Percy Pigs I can get through in training!


How do you train for your very first ultra?

  • Start with a Strong Base: Before diving into ultra-specific training, build a solid foundation of running fitness. Aim to comfortably run shorter distances like 5Ks and 10Ks regularly for several months to condition your body for longer efforts. If you can’t comfortably run a 10k (or even a half) without having to stop, I’d hold off on booking that ultra.
  • Gradually increase mileage: This will help avoid overuse injuries. Aim for no more than a 10% increase in total weekly mileage from one week to the next.
  • Don’t just run: Cross-training and strength training are essential to ultra-marathon preparation. Incorporating activities like cycling, swimming, yoga, and weightlifting helped me improve my overall fitness and endurance while reducing the risk of overuse injuries.
  • Rest and recover: Rest days are just as important as training days. Your body needs time to recover and adapt to the demands of ultra marathon training. Make sure to get plenty of sleep, eat nutritious foods, and consider incorporating activities like yoga or stretching to aid recovery.
  • Practice nutrition and hydration: Experiment with different nutrition and hydration strategies during your long training runs to find what works best. Practice eating and drinking on the run.
  • Invest in the right gear: Invest in shoes suitable for long distances and the terrain you will be on! Additionally, I’d invest in a hydration pack!
  • Mental preparation: Ultra marathons are as much mental challenges as physical ones. Break the distance into smaller, manageable segments to stay focused and motivated during training and the race.
  • Buddy up: Surround yourself with fellow runners, whether it’s joining a local running group, connecting with other women training for ultras online. You’ve a lot of miles to cover in training and the company makes them fly by! 

The prospect of covering 50 kilometres on foot is undoubtedly daunting, but with the right training and mindset, you can do it.

Although, it’s likely I’ll be sick of Percy Pigs by the end of it!

In need of a training plan to take you the extra mile?

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