Ultra-trail running is a type of running that takes place on trails, typically over long distances and challenging terrain. It's a popular sport for those looking for a new challenge or a way to push their limits. In this blog post, we'll discuss what ultra trail running is, the benefits of the sport, and tips for getting started.
What is Ultra Trail Running?
Ultra-trail running is any foot race that exceeds the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles. The races can range from 50k to 100 miles or more and take place on rugged, mountainous terrain. The sport requires not only physical endurance but also mental toughness, as runners must navigate unpredictable weather and challenging terrain.
Benefits of Ultra Trail Running
There are many benefits to ultra-trail running, including:
- Increased endurance - Ultra trail running requires a high level of physical endurance, which can improve your overall fitness level.
- Mental toughness - Ultra trail running can be mentally challenging, as runners must push through pain, fatigue, and adverse weather conditions. It also enables runners to get to know themselves better: ultra runners have to listen a lot to their bodies, constantly find the right dialogue with it and with their thoughts to keep going (sometimes for hours and hours!)
- Scenic routes - Many ultra-trail running races take place in beautiful, natural settings, providing runners with an opportunity to enjoy nature and connect with the outdoors. If you're looking to visit a new country, this might just be one efficient way to see plenty of landscapes and views.
- Camaraderie - Ultra trail running races often have a strong sense of community, with runners supporting and encouraging each other throughout the race.
Tips for Getting Started with Ultra Trail Running
If you're interested in getting started with ultra-trail running, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Start slow - Don't try to run a 100-mile race right away. Start with shorter distances and work your way up. Although it might be tempting to sign up with ego, gradually increasing distance will keep you away from injury.
- Train on similar terrain - If you're planning on running a mountainous ultra-trail race, make sure to train on similar terrain to prepare your body. Look for the hills (even if you're in the city, or try to run as off road as possible so that your ankles get used to instability and strengthen).
- Practice proper nutrition and hydration - Ultra trail running requires a lot of energy, so make sure to fuel your body with healthy foods and stay hydrated throughout the race. Test, feedback and re-test until race day - for some people, it can take months to find nutrition for a happy gut.
- Invest in proper gear - Running on challenging terrain requires the right gear, including trail running shoes, trekking poles, and hydration packs. Investing in good quality gear is not only helpful so that you keep it in the long run, but it also enables you to remain safe on trails and in racing.
- Join a running group - Joining a running group can provide you with support, motivation, and training partners. In the UK, you'll find many local groups or you can get in touch with race organisers, who can point you in the right direction. For example Maverick races hold group runs and have created their own running community in key cities across the UK.
In conclusion, ultra-trail running is a challenging but rewarding sport that requires physical and mental endurance. It offers many benefits, including increased fitness, beautiful scenery, and a strong sense of community.
If you're interested in getting started with ultra-trail running, remember to start slow, train on similar terrain, practice proper nutrition and hydration, invest in proper gear, and join a running group. With dedication and hard work, you can achieve your ultra trail running goals and enjoy the many benefits of the sport.