The Ultramarathon Diaries: The Beginning
Hi, I’m Millie and I’m going to be keeping a diary of my life & training to get ready for my first Ultra Marathon. So welcome to The Ultramarathon diaries: the beginning.
I’m hoping to do an Ultra Marathon in September 2020 so I’ve got plenty of time to train. Plenty of time to go from an occasional, unsteady, carrying-too-much-weight jogger to an ultra-fit, ultra-healthy, ultra-runner. Or (more realistically) just plenty of time to be fit enough to get over the finish line before the cut off.
I decided to do an ultra about a month ago. Since I set the goal I’ve had a lot of questions about what an ultra-marathon entails. Everyone I’ve told also has a lot of questions – aside from the obvious “are you crazy?” with raised eyebrows. Here’s a few things I wanted to know:
What Is An Ultramarathon?
Ultramarathons are anything longer than a standard 26 mile marathon. The majority of ultramarathons begin at 50km or approximately 31 miles and distances can extend almost indefinitely to the limit of human endurance. Ultramarathon routes run on trails, tracks and some roads and often cover hills and mountains. There is less emphasis on speed than there would be in a normal marathon with participants taking time to walk on hills, re-hydrate and eat throughout the race to sustain energy.
I’m sure there are a lot of professional answers and a huge scientific background to this question but that’s my basic understanding of an ultra.
Why Not Just Do A Normal Marathon?
This is the first question almost everyone has asked me when I tell them that I want to do an ultramarathon. I’ve essentially got one answer, because I hate road running and I’m slow. I’ve been running on and off for about 5 years now and my mile times have never been below 10-11 minutes per mile. I get bored easily on tarmac and I love the hills. I was really lucky to grow up in the middle of the Peak District and spent every spare second outside. It made sense that if I was going to run for 4 hours or more, I was going to do it in landscapes that I loved and have awesome views to distract me.
Why Did I Choose An Ultramarathon?
I first find out about ultramarathons on Instagram. There’s a really great fell-running community on Instagram and after speaking to a few people I found that a lot of hill runners were training for ultras. And they were normal people who just liked the outdoors and liked running! I’m not competitive which has put me off races in the past but there was a really good vibe online and supporting other runners and making friends.
Also, food. I love eating, I think it’s probably one of my favourite things about life. We eat fairly healthily in our house but I wanted to develop a hobby that would keep me balanced weight-wise for a long time. On both sides of my family there’s a history of weight related issues and I don’t want to be in a position in my 50s and 60s where these are problems for me.
There are actually hundreds of other questions buzzing around my head at the moment and I’m sure there’s a reservoir of self-doubt that’ll come gushing out at some point. I’m also pretty sure that the deeper I get into training the harder the questions will be for me to answer. Best actually get stuck into running now …
Just a little note, this is diary so it’s an account of how I’ve found information from other runners, online and from experience. If you have any feedback I’d love to hear it. You can follow my progress on instagram @millie.ferns