No I’m not actually changing my twitter handle to add the word “ultra” and no this is not a post about Dean Karnazes’ book with a similar title…good book though! This is about my next adventure later this year. That’s right, I am registered for my first 50-mile ultra marathon! My ultra of choice is the OPSF 50/50 Ultra Marathon.
Wait…what’s an “Ultra-Marathon”?
Good Question! Let’s define an ultra marathon for you. An ultra marathon is any distance foot race/event that is longer than the traditional 26.2 miles of a standard marathon.
What about the Goofy Challenge? That was more than 26.2 miles!
So is the Goofy Challenge an Ultra? A purist would likely say “no” since the 39.3 miles of the Goofy is ran across 2 days with a big break in the middle where as an ultra marathon is a continuous event until the mileage is finished (assuming a course time limit). Having just completed a Goofy Challenge…plus an extra 5K for 42.4 miles in three days, Dopey I know…I can assure you that the experience will be helpful! The shortest ultra I know of is the 50-K which equates to 31.07 miles. I had the option to do this shorter distance instead of the 50-miler, but to be honest there is no doubt in my mind that I can finish a 50K especially after having completed 42.4 across three days. At the end of the Goofy Challenge I was more than prepared to go another 5-miles. The 50-miler is a much greater challenge for me. Also, having read up on the topic of ultra marathons I’ve learned that the people who run these events don’t consider it a “real ultra” until you hit the 50-mile mark. Anything less is considered a long marathon or “just a training run”. As they say, “When in Rome!”
Why in the name of all that’s holy…?!?!?
Why an ultra? Well, that’s a good question! An ultra marathon is like a mountain to some runners. You run it because it’s there. For others it’s just the challenge of the distance. It’s a little bit of both for me plus training for an ultra marathon is much different than training for even a regular 26.2 for both the program and the philosophy. Also, this is a trail run so the environment of the course is much different than a standard road race. So I have a 2-in-1 challenge ahead of me!
To prepare for this event I am increasing my training mileage quite a bit. Right now my weekly mileage not including cross-training is close to ~25 miles per week. Once I start the ultra training I’ll boost that number to over 30 miles per week almost immediately…emphasis on “almost” and then increase it from there. It’s advised that you only increase total mileage by 10% from week to week so luckily I have a couple weeks to build up so there isn’t such a huge jump at the start of the program. Another nicety is that the weekly mileage increase primarily comes in the mid-week runs at the start along with the addition of a short Sunday run after a long Saturday run. The first 8-weeks has a small 5-miler on Sunday after the long run on Saturday. I was amazed at how closely the training plan resembles the Goofy Challenge Training just higher mileage.
Besides the races I mentioned in my last post I also added a couple 15K trail runs and a full marathon trail run so I can get more trail experience. As soon as I finish the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on May 5th I will be all about the trail running for the remainder of the year. I’m looking forward to buying a headlamp! 🙂
You can follow me on Twitter @TheRunningMan23