October 17, 2012 TWEET COMMENTS 7

Beyond 26.2 on Dirt

Five tips to not only survive but happily finish your first ultra

Photo by Matt Trappe
Tina Lewis on her way to winning Colorado's 2012 Leadville Trail 100-Miler.


Running your first trail ultramarathon can be intimidating. After all, many trail ultras are advertised as gnarly, dangerous events not intended for (yes, here comes a cliché) “the faint of heart.” And let’s be honest, the marathon's plenty hard. Throw in another six miles for a 50K, rocks and roots and, often times, challenging climbs and descents, and trail ultrarunning can sound hardcore. But, it doesn’t have to be. Here, we’ve compiled five tips from both beginning and experienced ultrarunners to help you run your first ultra with confidence and finish strong.

1. Break the race into small sections.

Whether you’re running 32 miles or 100 miles, the distance may be hard to chew. Trail Runner Subscriptions Manager, Jen Burn, suggests breaking the race up into smaller segments. This could mean thinking of a 50K, for example, as four sets of eight miles. Or do what Jen does, and simply run from aid station to aid station.

“Running from aid station to aid station, I was able to mentally break up the distance into something more manageable,” she says of her first-ever ultra, the Silver Rush 50 Mile in Leadville, Colorado, earlier this year. “This tactic gave me a concrete place to focus on early in the race and I still had an overwhelming amount of mileage left to run.”

Segmenting the race in small pieces prevents you from getting intimidated and wasting mental energy. If you only have to focus on eight miles at a time for example (or even four!), you’re more likely to stay calm, relaxed and focused.


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