Being an experienced runner, I was mistaken thinking that ultras would be more of the same. But making sure you prepare your head, body and your feet makes a world of difference
Before this year, I was a reasonably proficient marathon runner (PB: 2hr 50min), but I had never run an ultra – a foot race longer than a marathon. Intrigued by the ever-growing popularity of these races, I decided to ratchet up the distances. I ended up running six ultras in 2017, the last three of them in a mad five-week period, culminating with the epic 100 Miles Sud de France in the Pyrenees last month.
It has been a steep learning curve, and by the end of these races I knew things about how to survive and complete an ultra that I didn’t know before – things that might help others embarking on one in the future.
Of course, not everyone will agree, and there are many ways to approach an ultra, but just turning up with a pair of running shoes, some water and a few gels, as I did for the first one, and like you can in most shorter races, is not advisable. Ultras take planning. You need to be organised. That’s lesson one. It’s a lesson I learned the hard way, and many are the times I’ve stood alone in a stew on the trail cursing my poor preparation.