FIrst time ultra runner

Too young for an Ultra, or just crazy??

20 messages
21/02/2013 at 19:02

ALthough im not new to running im deff new to the ultra scene but feel like its the PERFECT fit for me. I've never been one to enjoy any form of short running and prefere scenic runs over crowded roads or tracks (only hampsters should enjoy running in circles) Any way, Im only 19 but have been running since i was about 11 (come from a distance running family)  Im getting ready to start training for my 4th 1/2 marathon in May and am obsessing over doing a 40 miler in september. My question is am I going insane trying to do this? I need some support because people look at me like i have 4 heads when i tell them my running plan. i know im menatally strong enough but i dont want to get an injury (other than mild shin splints twice in my life i have been injury free)


So any advice, encouragement, or tips would make my day!


21/02/2013 at 20:20

I don't know how it compared cos technically I didn't run all the way, but I started doing ultra-type stuff when I was 15, in the form of 50-mile, 24 hour challenge hikes (as a Venture Scout) in the Chiltern Hills.  We just hiked them as fast as we could and our training was one long fast hike at the weekends and then just circuit-training and normal 15-year-old kid type stuff during the week, so no hard-core training but a lot of determination!

That first one I finished in about 18 hours (was a self-navigated course in teams of 4 through the winter hours of February). I was hooked and continued to do them into my late 20s before getting distracted by other stuff for a while. I'm not saying it was good or bad, just that I loved it even then. 

So I guess I'd say go for it if you want to, but be really sensible about training and eating properly and not going OTT, especially as you want your body to last you a whole lot longer and hopefully keep doing this stuff. I'm now in my early 40s and back enjoying the joys of ultra-running. I have niggles for sure, but not ones I'd put down to my efforts of my youth.

Anyway, that's my thoughts ...

Edited: 21/02/2013 at 20:22
21/02/2013 at 20:59


I took up running at the age of 30, and i think it is fair to say that I have done some of the harder ultra distance events in the UK. 

I often wonder what might have been if I had got into it when I was 19. 

A lot of people have taken the jump from half marathon straight to ultra distance, including myself. 

My advice to you is to go for it. 

21/02/2013 at 21:24

I'm with BD, I very much wish I had gone for it at 19, instead of waiting until I was fat and nearer 40. Go for it.

21/02/2013 at 21:32

It didn't occur to me aged 15, NOT to do it (my dad was encouraging me all the way), but that was probably because the older lads in the unit were assuming us young-uns couldn't possibly do it and finish, and we were NOT having that!!!

For me it also matched perfectly with my growing love of the mountains and all that entailed too - something I have never lost and do not intend to yet!

21/02/2013 at 22:14
If you're obsessed by this 40 miler the only way out is to do it! As others have said I wish I had started before fat & 40 ( not fat anymore but still not younger! )
You say you come from a distance running family, surely some useful advice, training tips/ partners there?
22/02/2013 at 12:10

I think you should be putting in a good ten year foundation of booze and fags first, before even considering an ultra.

Nah, just go for it, if you think you can do it, you can do it.

22/02/2013 at 13:58

I have to agree with the other posts, I started running at 30 and tackled my first Ultra when I was 31. I do look back and think where could I be now if I had started earlier. I say train for it, then go for it.

22/02/2013 at 18:27

I don't mean to hijack this thread but is it normal for people to go from half marathons up to ultra distances without doing any 26.2's? I'm 22 and have never run more than 13 miles at once and presumed I would have to push my distances a little more before attempting a long race!

22/02/2013 at 20:31
Although Jenn Gaskell is a little older than you I know she started ultras at a relatively young age. Here's a link to some info about her.
I wonder if you're looking at the High Peak 40 which is in September. It's not easy having plenty of hills but would be a good choice for several reasons. You have a good amount of time to prepare for September so I'd say Go for it, like others here. As for tips, tell us what you'd like to know about eg food, kit, training. All the Best Kelsey.
22/02/2013 at 20:36

If you think you can do it then do it.    Im another who started at 40 and wish I had started younger.

22/02/2013 at 21:11

Ben Smith: probably not common, but it does happen. I deliberately trained for and ran a 50K last year before doing my first marathon (after doing several HMs) - it gave me mental permission to build up distance and get the "miles on my legs" without worrying about speed. Then I actually dropped my weekly mileage a bit and put some speedwork back in for my first marathon 10 weeks later. After that, a 30-miler on my way to my first 50-miler. Worked for me.

I do wish someone had introduced me to the joys of long distance running when I was younger (I'm in my mid-40s).

23/02/2013 at 00:54

Thank you Debra. A lot of people seem to be be saying that they wish they had tried longer distances at a younger age. Maybe I (age 22) will venture into some longer runs over the next year or so. I guess it's just a case of grabbing some gels, some water and running for as long as I can, right?

23/02/2013 at 18:19

Pretty much Ben

I have taken a couple of people from half marathon straight to baby ultra, and it is not a problem provided they just want to finish the race.  Turn up with the idea that you are going to just enjoy the race and finish within the time limit, employ a sensible run/walk strategy, and you will be fine. 

If you don't enjoy it then just go back to what you were doing previously.  If you do, then you will get a much better time in the next one you do. 

23/02/2013 at 19:57

grab some gels, grab some food even, grab enough liquid and pick a route ... run, jog, walk, hike, just keep on going.  

Aged 15 we loved our training sessions at the weekend - head off with map, compass, food and friends and seriously yomp for  most of the day!!  I appreciate that for me, I was not coming at it from a 'running' perspective, but the outcome was the same.  I for one am VERY glad I started when I did.  We used to deliberately get dropped off at night too and spend all night out hiking - as you do - on a Friday night!!

23/02/2013 at 21:11

Ben Smith: what are these "gels" you speak of? Seriously, you may find your stomach thanks you for real food on the longer distances. I use Kendal mink cake, fig rolls, malt loaf, pretzels - on longer runs cheese sandwiches, pasties etc. Everyone finds what works for them, but yes, you need to carry food and fluids (I like water with Elete electrolytes in).

And if you find that, after all, you don't enjoy the longer runs, well, as Ben Davies says, go back to shorter ones!

24/02/2013 at 20:32

Thank you all so much for the encouragement! THe race i plan on running is the Trails for Tails race in PA. I think one of the hardest things for me is getting enough fuel in me befoer and after the long runs. I have a pretty good routine with using gels, nuun, and bars durring my runs. But does anyone know some calorie dense foods that arent too filling that i could eat to make sure im not depelting myself too much?

24/02/2013 at 21:10
As Debra says try various stuff and see what works for you. A delight for me was coming across a recipe for banana and peanut butter muffins. I have as little or as much as I fancy at a time. Peanut butter sandwiches will do but not too many. Malt loaf is another favourite but again, too much and it becomes off putting! A banana carrier is now an essential item of kit for me as they can become too mashed on long runs. I find that raisins make a welcome change. See whether you prefer sweet or savoury. Don't be put off trying, just think of it as a picnic on the move over several hours. Jim
24/02/2013 at 21:32

Kelsey: in addition to the stuff I mentioned previoulsy, I've used a mix of raisins/sultanas and pumpkin seeds - tasty as well.

25/02/2013 at 00:43

I started at 40 - wish I'd started earlier.

First ultra in September - London 2 Brighton.  Will start training after Brighton Marathon in April...

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