Wanna do an Ultra-Marathon?

Posted by James Greenwood | 3:06 PM | , , | View Comments

I would like to welcome a colleague and fellow Endurance athlete to my Blog. Isabelle is a seasoned Ultra-Distance, Endurance athlete and Trainer. She will be contributing to my Thursday Posting, entertaining and educating us with her insights, experiences and incredible knowledge. Take it away Isabelle...

In ultra sports, it's not about what place you come in, it's about how hard you try.
What is ultra endurance running?

An ultramarathon (also called ultra distance) is any sporting event involving running longer than the traditional length of 42.195 kilometres (26.2188 mi).

There are two general types of ultramarathon events: those that cover a specified distance, and events that take place during specified time (with the winner covering the most distance in that time). The most common distances are 50 and 100 miles, or 50 and 100 kilometers.

Other distances/times include double marathons 24 hours, and multiday races of 1000 miles or even longer. The format of these events and the courses covered are quite variable, ranging from single or multiple loops (some as short as a 400 meter track), to point-to-point road or trail races.

Many ultramarathons, especially trail challenge, are characterized by severe course obstacles, such as inclement weather, elevation change, or rugged terrain.

Many of these races are run on dirt roads or mountain paths, though some are run on paved roads as well. Usually, there are aid stations every five to fifteen km apart, where runners can replenish food and drink supplies or take a short break.

Timed events range from 6, 12, and 24 hours to 3 and 6 days (known as multi-day events). Timed events are generally run on a track or a short road course, often one mile or less.

For myself, it is something I started doing 7 years ago and haven’t look back since!

The biggest question I get all the time is why would people want to put their bodies through such pain? Isn’t a marathon enough Isabelle!?

Well speaking from a personal experience, these distances allows your body to see how far it will go and I love that! There are crazy things that can happen when you’re at the edge of your endurance and your mind becomes focused on just making it through.

You can be in the middle of a field after racing for 30 hours with nobody around, yet you are convince that you are in a group of 100 runners Your mind starts to fight you to convince you to stop.

When you have been running for 22 hours, you are by yourself, again, your mind is fighting against you to try to find every excuse in the book to make you quite.

The best ultra runners are not necessarily the ones with the strongest legs. They are the ones that have mastered 2 things:
  1. They are the ones that can win the battle against their own mind. When it’s says stop I don’t want to run no more, they don’t listen and keep running.
  2. They have solutions for every possible things that will go wrong during the race so when one of them hits, no ones panic and the race goes on. Not only to they have a plan B or C, they already know what plan Z is. 3 – They can handle pain really well for a really long time!
When you’re finished, you can look back and say, “ I did that ”.

I woke up on a Friday morning ran all day, didn’t sleep cause I wanted to keep running, the sun came up as I was still running and finished my race 28 hours later. WOW, when you hit that chair for the first time realizing what you just went through, there is no other feeling like it!

Everyone should do an ultra race in their life to see what they are made of. Not only will the course take you around crazy places but so will your mind!!

Isabelle Thielen

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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