Since teaming up with XNRG, we’ve hosted almost a dozen one day ultra marathons to raise funds for medical care. For first time ultra runners in particular, we think the Humanity Direct events are the best ultras around. The welcoming atmosphere and scenic routes are just some of the reasons that on average more than a third of our runners at each event are doing their first ultra. So if you’re looking to try an ultra, or have already signed up to our events later this year in July in Princes Risborough and September in Tring, here’s a few tips and observations we’ve gathered up.
1. Almost anyone can do an ultra! Before hosting our first event, I thought that being an ultra runner required an Olympic physique and a certain age, however this couldn’t be farther from the truth. We often have runners in their 70s and also of all shapes and sizes. So don’t be scared of trying an ultra - if you do your training and really want to do it, then you can!
2. Training for a long race means more than just running. Make sure you mix up the type of training you do to prevent muscle overuse injuries. Also, getting your core strong will really help when running longer distances.
3. Have Fun! Smile and enjoy the feeling of pushing your limits. Enjoy the scenery, and the amazing sense of achievement you’ll have at the end while also raising money for a great cause.
4. Walking is not frowned upon in ultra races - in fact it’s encouraged! Particularly up and downhills. Walking at different points is a great way to recuperate, while maybe taking on fluids and food. It’s a long race, not a sprint, so go at a comfortable pace. We even have a walkers group in our races, so even if you don’t want to run at all, you can still take part.
5. Stay hydrated and keep eating. Luckily in the Humanity Direct/XNRG races, the checkpoints are some of the best you’ll find in any race, and they’re usually about every 10km along the route.
6. It will be hard. If you know that in advance and prepare for it then at least you won’t be surprised when the going gets tough. But after watching so many people finish ultras, it seems like the more you suffer out there, the bigger the elation and sense of achievement you will have at the finish, so it’s always worth it!
There’s obviously plenty more tips and advice for running your first ultra, especially when it comes to specific gear and training routines, but the advice above is just some things we’ve picked up on. If you want more info, check out this guide from XNRG, who also offer coaching and other resources to help you on your way.
Hopefully we’ll see you at one of our events soon!