This past year we had several of our athletes (and coaches) shift focus from triathlon and road racing to trail running and ultra marathon distance races. Maybe you are one of the people asking yourself “Should I do an Ultra Marathon?”
The first question you want to ask yourself is why? Really this goes for any endurance event, including Half Ironmans, Marathons, Ironman, Ultraman, the Uberman, you name it. The first question should be: Why do you want to do it? The training is going to be tough, so you need a good reason to get yourself out there and put in the time. Maybe it’s for your health, mental and physical. Maybe it’s in memory of someone or to honor someone in your life. Maybe it’s to be a good example to your kids. Maybe it’s just to prove to yourself that you can do it. Whatever the reason. — your “why” should be at the forefront of your decision.
The second thing to ask is: Do you have support? If you are married, or have a significant other, or have kids, or any other important relationships in your life, you absolutely need to them on board. You will be spending a lot of time running and therefore less time with them. If they are not supportive of your decision and your training you are in for a bad time. Have an honest discussion about the time commitment it will take. In addition to family support you may want to see if you have running buddy support. This is not essential but it can make training much more pleasant if you have a training partner or two or three.
The third thing to ask yourself is: Can you physically complete this goal? Look at your running history, your injury history, and be realistic with yourself. Do you have a strong running base and are injury free? If the answer is yes, then go for it! If the answer is no, then take the time to work on those 2 things first.
The next question is: What distance to choose? To make this decision you want to take a very realistic look at your history, abilities, and how much time you have to commit. I cannot stress that enough. If you are maxed out with life, work, kids etc., taking on 10-15 hours a week of running is a poor decision. Likewise if you are chronically injured signing up for a 100 mile race is a terrible idea. Be realistic! Chose what is right for you at this point and time in your life. If you have a goal of running 100 miles someday but you’re stressed right out right now with life then this is not the right time. Doesn’t mean there will never be the right time, it just isn’t now. Look at how much you are currently running/training and how much running the event will require. Choosing a realistic goal will make the process so much more enjoyable. I really like to take a multi year approach to racing, using shorter events to build to longer ones. Yes, people do couch to Ironman or couch to 100 miles but that is almost always a bad idea. This is also a very good time to bring your coach into the conversation if you have one. They are objective and can help you make a good decision over a regrettable one.
Are you thinking of going Ultra in 2021? Let us know in the comments!!!