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How To Become a Professional Ultra Runner

Courtney Dauwalter
November 02, 20227 min read

How To Become a Professional Ultra Runner

Are you currently practicing ultrarunning? You may want to know what it takes to run 26.2 miles. Maybe you've completed a 50 or 100-mile race, and the thought of a 200-mile race intrigues you. Or you're an extreme athlete fixated on pushing the envelope; in this case, the longer the race, the better.

An ultramarathon requires grit and guts to complete. To do something that most others will never even try demands an inner drive. You'll need to develop aerobic endurance and a robust physique that can tolerate running for extended periods if you want to prepare for your first ultramarathon.

This tutorial will cover how to be ready for race day, including a training review, dietary recommendations, and strategies for avoiding injuries.

But first, let's review a few definitions so that we all understand what we're talking about.

What's an Ultramarathon?

Previously considered a "niche" activity, ultrarunning has grown in popularity over the past ten years. This can come across as strange initially, considering that ultrarunning entails covering longer distances than a marathon. But, on the other hand, it makes perfect sense due to one aspect of the sport: its simplicity.

Compared to standard marathon running, an ultramarathon has far fewer "requirements"—part of what makes them unique and beautiful.

Contrary to road marathons, where the general rule is that "the flatter the course, the better," ultramarathons can be run in unique environments and weather, such as hilly terrain, sand deserts, or ferociously cold or hot temperatures.

Technically, an ultramarathon may occur wherever you are; if you were to run 43 kilometers (27 miles) right now, you would have completed an ultramarathon. But, although not precisely in keeping with the ultrarunning spirit, you get the point.

Here's how to train for an ultra marathon.

Before you start a long, precise run, build a solid foundation.

The most common error we find in ultra training is failure to set up a strong enough base to withstand the essential long runs required for ultra success. Learn how to turn on the burner before opening a restaurant. The same reasoning holds for ultrarunning: run five or six times a week in a healthy manner for a few months before attempting to extend long runs to more than 16 miles. Injury and underperformance are the outcomes of failing to establish a foundation of consistency.

Focus on three to five critical long runs, or back-to-back long-run weekends

A running training cycle should closely match an ultra-training process. Most runs need to be simple and brief—between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on your experience. Then, once you've established a base, begin performing weekly long runs in a manner similar to that of marathon preparation. Get used to weekly distances of between 16 and 20 kilometers. Next, make your long run longer every second or third week, starting eight to ten weeks before your event.

We recommend a 50-mile or 100K event as a substitute for a 100-mile race.

Few things beat the sense of accomplishment that comes from reaching your goals.

Run downhill to make your legs bombproof

In ultramarathons, uphills will always pose a challenge. It's easy to go downhill until it becomes impossible.

Leg muscles experience eccentric contractions when running downhill, which might result in microtears if you aren't ready. After a few challenging downhills, if you aren't prepared for those eccentric contractions, you'll unexpectedly get "jello legs." Because of this, while running a race with a lot of downhill, you can take it easy the entire time and yet find yourself struggling to put one foot in front of the other.

Athletes are encouraged to run all downhills carefully during their long runs, keeping a comfortable pace and learning to let go of the brakes. Then, your legs won't be shredded from downhill practice on race day.

A race can be won or lost on an uphill, but it can be finished, or DNF'd on a downhill. So remember to run downhill to cross the finish line.

Endurance without speed work is selling yourself short.

Even though you will move very slowly during the race, you should still run quickly during your training. Every pace—even a few minutes slower than normal-can feels easy with one focused exercise each week. In addition, speed training enhances the running economy, or how much effort it takes to maintain a particular pace. If you increase your economy, previously strained rates will start to feel comfortable.

Although there is no magic exercise, there are magic rules: concentrate on running smoothly, with a total interval length of 10 to 40 minutes, separated by rest times where you run efficiently. While there is a right way to create a strategy for every person, the majority of middle-of-the-pack runners may benefit from performing the intervals they find most enjoyable since consistency is bred by having fun.

Ultras require strength-think a husky, not a whippet.

The more time spent moving, the more strain the body endures. Generally speaking, more muscular bodies are better equipped to handle the pressure associated with recent extreme events.

View pictures of athletes tackling a challenging grade. The quadriceps will be fully extended, the hips will descend with each footstrike, and the calves will be tensed from absorbing the impact. Instead of breaking down or passing those impact pressures to bones and tendons, solid and durable muscles are better suited to handle them.

Exercise your legs lightly, consume a lot of food, and avoid worrying too much about your "race weight." Strong endurance lasts for a long time.

Most runners taper too much.

The concept of tapering magic does not exist. After a few weeks of light running, you will only advance to new fitness levels. When you eventually reach the starting line, excessive tapering will make you feel more like a stale loaf of bread.

Maintain a regular training schedule until about two weeks before the race to prevent cramps. Then, maintain effort and a solid long run while reducing volume by 25% weekly. Reduce the volume a little more in the last week, but keep running. If you require a longer taper than that, your training was ineffective to begin with.

Can I run an ultramarathon? Can I finish it? How?

It should be more apparent now that we've discussed what an ultramarathon entails: there are many sorts, distances, and levels of difficulty for ultra events. Therefore, the essential query is: Can you complete an ultramarathon? You can, of course. I'm not suggesting you run the Tor de Geants the following week; instead, take things slowly. However, if you concentrate on picking an achievable, realistic ultramarathon (and train properly and safely), you will be able to complete one.

The first step, as mentioned before, is identifying your aim. We advise selecting 50k for your first ultramarathon. This is a challenging and great distance for beginners. Within three to four months, you may be ready to run your first 50K.

The most crucial factors are adhering to an organized, effective training schedule and establishing a commitment to achieving your objective.

Being consistent in your training is essential to finishing an ultramarathon. Although consistency isn't the most fun or "sexy" aspect of exercise, it is unquestionably the most crucial. Completing an ultramarathon requires learning to train regularly, eat well, and recover.

Finally, examining the race's path in advance is crucial before you start. To maximize your energy, you may accurately calculate your running pace and plan where you'll run and where you'll power hike or stroll. A game plan before the race will make you more organized and self-assured. If you need assistance with planning, look at our Explore training plan; our coaches will assist you with this preparation. (If you can afford one, a private coach is always a good choice.)


A race longer than the 26.2-mile distance of a standard marathon is referred to as an ultramarathon. Any distance between a 50k run and a 200k run is acceptable (they also

include odd events like the 4x4x48 challenge)! There aren't many ways to avoid the enormous difficulty of ultramarathon training. But the main reason why most runners put themselves through the ultra gauntlet is that doing so can be incredibly satisfying and life-changing, both during preparation and during the race itself.

There is less tolerance for mistakes and less chance to "wing it" as you may in shorter races when you run for many hours, frequently in isolated locations. To prepare for an ultramarathon swiftly, use all the tactics and tips suggested in this article.

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Courtney Dauwalter

Courtney Dauwalter is an American ultramarathon runner. She was born on February 13, 1985. She has a visualization method that helps her conquer hundreds of miles at a time.Courtney Dauwalter is an American ultramarathon runner. She was born on February 13, 1985. She has a visualization method that helps her conquer hundreds of miles at a time.

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Courtney Dauwalter

Copyright © 2023 Courtney Dauwalter - All Rights Reserved

Courtney Dauwalter is an American ultramarathon runner. She was born on February 13, 1985. She has a visualization method that helps her conquer hundreds of miles at a time.Courtney Dauwalter is an American ultramarathon runner. She was born on February 13, 1985. She has a visualization method that helps her conquer hundreds of miles at a time.

Copyright © 2023 Courtney Dauwalter - All Rights Reserved