Ultramarathons! They are the ultimate dream for all runners, seeing as how more and more ultra running events have cropped up over the last two years. Essentially, an ultramarathon is anything past the marathon distance, or 42.1 km. Some ultras have a 50km course, while there are those that go up to 72km, 100km, and even past 150km. These are for the elite runners. But how does one get to that stage?

It may sounds intimidating, but the fact is that ultra-running isn’t for the faint hearted, and it needs you to prepare for each and every minor aspect. The physical strength and fitness need to be complemented with mental fortitude. You need to be psychologically ready to take on a 50km-plus run. What’s the secret? You can start right here:

Know your reason
You have to know why you’re taking on ultra running. While you may have started running as a challenge, or for stress relief, or to get fit. You need a different mindset to tackle ultra-runs. As seasoned ultra-runner Stephanie Case told us, “Take time to focus on you. Ultrarunning is really about challenging yourself and finding new sources of strength deep within. It is as much mentally challenging and rewarding as it is physically – use it to your advantage to help spur personal growth, fitness and confidence.”

Two words that will motivate you
It’s possible. Whenever you’re sinking into self-doubt, remind yourself that ultra running is possible. It may take you longer than other people, and it may take several attempts before you can nail it, but it is possible. These are simple words, but they will take you far, because in the end it’s all about believing that it is possible.

You need determination
Besides the right training, you need solid determination to finish what you started. Don’t go into an ultra-marathon half-prepared. That’s a recipe for disaster, in terms of your physical and mental health. Your body may recover from running a marathon under-trained, but your dented confidence may be harder to hammer back into shape.

Have confidence in your footwear
Make sure that you’ve spent enough time deciding what shoes are the best for you for a run as long and hard as an ultra. You cannot hit 45 kilometers and realize you can’t run your best because of shoe problems. So give your training shoes enough running time to understand the long-term performance and running comfort. It’s also crucial to respect the terrain and pick shoes accordingly. Don’t jump into a new pair right before the race.

Keeping the big picture in mind
When you train really hard for races, you want to go out there and race in them all. But it’s important to know your body and it’s limitations. Make wise choices before signing up for a race. Think of longevity and your love for running. You don’t want to cut short on that because of the need to run every ultra. Go easy on those registrations, train hard for a select few, and ace them, before jumping up a level.

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