The Ultimate Guide To Ultra-Marathon Training: From Novice To Endurance Pro

The Ultimate Guide To Ultra-Marathon Training: From Novice To Endurance Pro

Training for an ultra-marathon is not just about running longer distances; it's about embarking on a journey of self-discovery and pushing the boundaries of human endurance. Whether you're a seasoned marathoner or a newcomer to long-distance running, this guide will provide you with the tools, tips, and techniques to prepare for the ultimate running challenge.

1. Understanding Ultra-Marathons

An ultra-marathon is any race longer than the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles. These events can range from 50 kilometers (31 miles) to 100 miles or more, often traversing challenging terrains and weather conditions. According to a study in the "Journal of Sports Science," ultra-runners typically have a high pain tolerance and a unique mental toughness, traits that are essential for success in these grueling events.

2. Building a Solid Base

Before you even consider specific ultra-marathon training, it's crucial to have a solid running base. This means being comfortable with running long distances regularly. A report by the 'Runners World' suggests that a runner should be consistently logging at least 20-30 miles per week before starting ultra-specific training.

3. Gradually Increase Distance

The key to ultra-marathon training is gradual progression. Unlike traditional marathons, where you might peak at 20-22 miles in training, ultra preparation requires you to extend this limit. Legendary ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek emphasizes the importance of slowly building up mileage to avoid injury.

4. Back-to-Back Long Runs

A unique aspect of ultra training is back-to-back long runs. This means running long distances on consecutive days to accustom your body to running on tired legs. It's a technique that simulates the latter stages of an ultra without the need to run an extremely long distance in one go.

5. Nutrition and Hydration Strategy

Nutrition and hydration are critical in ultra-marathon training. You need to practice eating and drinking during long runs to understand what works for you. As stated by Dr. Trent Stellingwerff, a renowned exercise physiologist, “Ultra-marathoners need a well-planned nutrition strategy that balances hydration, energy sources, and electrolytes.”

6. Strength and Conditioning

Strength training is vital for ultra-runners. It helps in improving running economy and reducing injury risk. A study published in the 'American Journal of Sports Medicine' found that runners who engaged in regular strength training had fewer injuries.

7. Mental Preparation

Mental toughness is as important as physical preparation. Visualization, meditation, and setting small, achievable goals during training can significantly enhance mental resilience, as recommended by sports psychologists.

8. Recovery Is Key

Recovery is an integral part of training. Adequate sleep, proper nutrition, and active recovery practices like yoga or light jogging help in muscle repair and prepare you for the next training session.

9. Test Your Gear and Strategy

Before race day, test your gear, nutrition, and hydration strategy during long runs. This will ensure you're comfortable and prepared for the actual event.

10. Listen to Your Body

Lastly, always listen to your body. If you feel overly fatigued or sense an injury, it’s better to rest or seek medical advice. Overtraining can lead to injuries, which can set you back in your training.


Ultra-marathon training is a journey that challenges you physically and mentally. With proper training, nutrition, mental preparation, and recovery, you can transition from a regular runner to an ultra-marathoner. Remember, it's not just about the distance; it's about the journey and the lessons learned along the way.

Back to blog