wannabe ultra runner?

share your ambitions/goals/training here on a 'newbie ultra' thread........

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12/01/2014 at 10:05

could I ask for some advice for us very inexperienced or newbies, 

Best way to learn or improve your map skills?

i'm thinking get a map, get a compass (with a 1:25000 scale) and get your arse outside long walks good practise as well being on your feet for a long period of time

is there any definitive book that we should all be buying and reading?

or should we be saving our pennies for a days course with anyone? 

Also I guess if running at night need to practise at night? 

Sorry lots of questions

Edited: 12/01/2014 at 10:07
12/01/2014 at 20:53

It is not actually difficult to learn to read a map.  Just buy a map and compass, and go out and play around with them.  You live in Leicestershire, so I can give you a tutorial if you need it. 

Many elite ultra runners use long walks of eight hours or so as part of their training. 

There are many books that an ultra runner should own, but I don’t think that there is one that stands out as being exceptionally useful.  One day I might get a bunch of contributors together, and write such a book. 

Practice running in the dark can be invaluable.  At this time of year, it doesn’t even have to be particularly late. 

12/01/2014 at 22:13

booktrunk: orienteering is a good way to practice using a map and compass and actually reading the features on the map. I also went on a one-day course after one of the Lakeland 50 recces and found that useful as well.

As for running at night, yes, useful to practice. For navigating, I'd practice in the daytime first!

13/01/2014 at 14:00

Hey all - another wannabe ultra runner here. Doing VLM in April and was hoping to maybe use that training to go a little further and maybe enter an Ultra in May / early June. Lets just say personal circumstances mean that if I don't do it by then, I'll probably never end up doing an Ultra so I'm determined to do it. Was hoping for something around the 50k mark (up to 35 miles max) and ideally not too hilly. I've had a look around myself and the ones I've found (within a 3 hour drive from Cardiff) are "The Pony Express Ultra" in Hampshire (30 miles if doing 1 day), "The Dukeries Ultra" in Nottingham (30 miles).

Ideally, it'd need to be paths rather than completely off road as most of my training with be done on the road / cycle paths. I appriciate I'm asking a lot and almost "where can I find an easy Ultra" which clearly doesn't exist. Any other suggestions would be greatly appriciated.

13/01/2014 at 14:03
Google Ox ultra marathon. I think it's a new one in Wiltshire.
22/01/2014 at 11:12

yes theres the ox ultra but that's very hilly ,  at end of May . other option is Northants 35 , start of june, mainly off road but bits on tarmac too going through villages,nice route, more rolling than steep hills, generous cut off. id say that even if most of your training is done on road then Northants is still doable. I really had run off road much at all before I did it and if I can bimble round it then anyone can !!

,millsy1977 , ox ultra looks quite tempting.

Edited: 22/01/2014 at 11:12
22/01/2014 at 12:20

I recently went on a day course for map reading and navigation skills. After a few pointers from the instructor (which are obvious after you have been told about them) it is quite easy to pick up. We then went out into the field to practice our new skills and it was relatively easy to locate certain points on the map that we were given. I've got my first race this weekend, the Kinder Trial, that requires some navigation so I am looking forward to it but am also a bit nervous. The course I went on was in the Peak District and only cost £40 so well worth the money in my opinion

22/01/2014 at 21:50

Thanks carterusm it's worth thinking about.

10/02/2014 at 14:14

More Questions

Someone has to keep prodding the thread

OK so I am now signed up for my first 100m (around 30 odd weeks away). Winter100

I have three other ultras.  69M in June, 86M August, 50M Sept. Then this 18th Oct.

So I am building up my base milage using P&D Plan for an early May Marathon. I've managed to stagger around 50M before in under 12hours.

So after listening to sensible people like Ben.  I'm planning on not going any quicker I don't think then my last 50 for my first ultra of the year in June, so go through 50M in between 11:30 -12 hours, the same as my First one but try not to fade badly towards the end it's more about being able to keep going then going quick.

Then all out training for the next two months for the 86M which is the ridgeway challenge as if I can get through that in 26 hours which is the limit, then I should be able to keep going for the other 14 miles.

Then use my 50M in Sept as a lovely long training run, followed the week after by a Marathon, then a 3 week taper until the winter 100.

I'm not really going with a plan as such after i finish my P&D Plan in May.

After that i'm going to run 5 days a week and try to do a 20 something plus a 10 plus on consecutive days 4 out of every 6 weeks.

As I am using the three ultras as long training runs as well as proper runs, do I need to look at any more serious distances? Is a 25m with say a 15-18 the day after every other week the sort of distance that would just about get me through a 100m ? Or do you think i'm kidding myself and need to dive straight into a proper programme, if so any recommendations?


Edited: 10/02/2014 at 14:16
10/02/2014 at 16:33

Booktrunk, I have no idea as I am as much a novice as you! But, that sounds like some seriously hefty mileage for someone who has not been running that long in the grand scheme of things! I would have thought your biggest issue would be getting through that and avoiding injury!

I'll be interested to see what the experienced guys say, but doing that many back to backs off only a limited initial base sounds a bit worrying to me!

11/02/2014 at 18:37

my eyes are boggling at all that mileage and racing!!   But then you've seen my posting on the thread about how many races in a year, I fall woefully short in comparison to many.  I think the key thing here amongst all the training is to really listen to your body and not ignore any signs when it's saying it's tired or needs a change of pace. Ultra running/racing is so different to marathon training.  I think I did my 50 mile PB on the SDW 100 (my first and only 100-miler to date) going through in about 11.15 or something, however, I wish I had gone through a little slower than that as my second half of the race took about 15.30!!!

Navigation - I was lucky in that I got the basics as a teenager in the Venture Scouts, it wasn't until I did my Summer ML training that much of it really fell into place, however outfits like the YHA do courses, orienteering is also a great way. Ordnance Survey do some basic 'how to' leaflets which will teach you the basics and then it's a case of getting out and using it as much as possible.  I actually find night navigation easier than day navigation sometimes - there is less to distract you in the dark and convince yourself you are going the right way when in fact you are not!!

11/02/2014 at 18:39


11/02/2014 at 20:35

It might be helpful if I list my training last week:

Monday to Friday I ran home from work (7.32 miles). 

Friday I rested. 

Saturday 23.53 miles with lots of hills, really slow plodding pace. 

Sunday 18.74 miles on a much flatter route. 

Total 71.55 miles. 

Some world class 100 mile runners don’t do any more than that. 

After a couple of weeks like that, I would always have a light week with little training.  Periodic rest is as important as training, or you will wear yourself out. 

I would say that booktrunk is thinking along the right lines at the moment

17/02/2014 at 19:52
Just chipping in on this as I'm a relative newbie. Took up running a couple of years back after some years enjoying getting out on the MTB. I had 6 months out with an Achilles injury but managed my first ever run which was a 50k last year in about 5 1/2 hrs. Am currently working towards the 70 mile xnrg 2 day event on the IOW in June followed by Ladybower 50 in Sept. My goal is a the UTMB in about 3 yrs time. Not sure if that sounds doable? The injury now seems under control but I'm only clocking up about 30-40 miles per week at the mo...
17/02/2014 at 19:56

Hi David, see you at Ladybower 


18/02/2014 at 08:14

The big difference is what the 'world class' guys put in their weeks to make up those 75 miles, Ben.

18/02/2014 at 09:01

Well I can assure you all that I've no intention of being world class So ball park figures and approximate ideas of ways to go are greatly appreciated here

I'm hoping to end up doing 5 days a week. I think I need to try and put one session in with speed in, I want to try to keep one weekend day with my OH which makes it difficult. So Sunday Long Run, Monday medium long run (after work), Tuesday off, Wed Speed, Thurs medium distance, Friday gentle recovery run.  Might swap Thurs and Friday, but this way round have a nice relaxing little run Friday night, then Saturday off.

By the time I begin this after my May marathon it will all have changed 500 times and be completely different again But, I like having the ideas going through my head.  Some of the Saturdays off will be all day hikes around Derbyshire with my oh and dog.

18/02/2014 at 10:46

I am new to Ultra running and am nervously excited about the Imber 33 miler I have entered March 9th. I was recommended the "Relentless Forward Progress" book (cheap on amazon) as it is geared towards newbies. I have found one of the training plans in there to be brilliant and even though my average weekly mileage is now 46 per week I have found the training easier than when I trained for London last year.

A typical week consists of Mon-rest, Tues-7, Weds-5, Thurs-7, Fri-rest, Sat-24, Sun-7. You also get mini taper weeks every third week where Sat & Sun become more balanced say: Sat-14, Sun-10

Cant believe that two years ago I couldn't run for 10 minutes without having to stop and now I am going to be an Ultra runner - relentless forward progress!!!

18/02/2014 at 10:52

Booktrunk, I'm firmly convinced that for people at the back end of ultras (which definately includes me) a decent hike is as good training as anything.  After all, I'll spend a big chunk of any event doing it.


18/02/2014 at 19:55

On that note, some elite ultra runners include walking as part of their routine.  They usualy measure it in terms of time spent on their feet i.e. eight hours. 

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