Top 5 | Things I Learnt Running My First Ultra-marathon

Back in February you might remember my bonkers decision to sign up to run the Race to the Stones in July (a 100km run in one day in the heat of the summer) what could be more fun eh? Once this had all sunk in I realised I needed to up the training game, this led to me entering the Dukeries 40 mile Ultra. With it not being too far from home and a supposedly “good first ultra’ I thought it would be a good starting point for my first ultra marathon (any distance greater than a 26.2 mile marathon). Needless to say – it was the toughest feat I’ve ever endured. However, I couldn’t have been happier to find out I completed it in 6hrs 29 mins, and was the 4th female home – and 1st in my age group!

For anyone else looking to take the next step beyond the marathon, don’t take it lightly, and hopefully the following tips will help a little (just a few things I wish I had been told).

1. Always carry water
– Whether you think it will weigh you down or not don’t even think twice about not taking water with you. Yes, there is likely to be aid stations throughout the route, however sometimes you’ll want something before this. Having a constant supply of water is key.

2. Run in your ‘normal’ shoes
– Obviously a change in terrain is apparent in an ultra, with the Dukeries route covering almost every surface possible I had no idea what shoes to wear. With lots of different views and opinions of people telling me to get some new trail shoes, I ended up going with my gut and wearing my everyday Adidas Ultra Boost ATR – and would honestly recommend them! Stick to what you’re used to, you’re on your feet for an awfully long time, at least do your best to keep them happy!

3. Carry sweet & savoury snacks
– As a complete and utter sweet tooth fiend, my biggest error was not taking any savoury snacks with me. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I was craving ready salted hula hoops at about 30 miles! Your body is doing something crazy – make sure you cater for these adverse cravings.

4. Train smart
– Whilst endurance is obviously key to any ultra-marathon, training the bit between your ears is just as important! When your body feels like it can’t go much further (and trust me.. it will) it’s a real case of mind of matter that will keep you going. Don’t underestimate what you are putting yourself through, and just make sure you’re just as well mentally prepared as you are physically.

5. Stay on your feet
– Yes, obviously whilst you’re running. But more so in the build up to the run. When you could be out  for hours on end, ensuring your feet are used to being on the ground for that amount of time is key. It’s not easy to train your feet to not get tired when you’re working in an office all day (trust me I know this), but if you can even substitute one way of your commute to walking, or including back to back training runs into your schedule just to prepare your feet for what’s in store you’ll be thanking yourself for it later – I promise!

With the Race to the Stones scarily close on the horizon I still have a long way to go with my training, and raising money for a great cause so if anyone is interested in supporting me in this challenge I’d be greatly appreciative! Big thanks to Hobo Pace and Ronnie Staton for organising great event at Dukeries Ultra – you nailed it!

In the mean time if anyone has any questions about their first ultra and any tips from the knowledge I am very much still learning please ask away and I’ll do my best to help!

The Habit Hunter x

Top 5 | Marathon Recovery Tips

Having just about come down from the shock of getting a PB in the Madrid Marathon I thought I’d share my insight into recovering after a marathon. I have to admit I’m possibly my body’s own worst enemy when it comes to recovering (i.e. I’m not great at sitting around & doing nothing)! But when you’ve put yourself through your paces & meandered 26.2 miles in the heat you need to take a time out, don’t rush back in — you’ll only learn the hard way by getting an injury and put yourself out for longer!

1. Take an ice bath
– yes it might sound horrendous! But trust me, it’s so worth it. Even if you can only bear it for a minute or two your muscles will thank you for it in the morning.

2. Get a light massage – some people have the urgency to get a ‘sports’ massage post-marathon, but the scrutiny may do you more harm than good. By all means get a massage, but just take it easy.

3. Go for a run – for some this is easier said than done. It’s something to put into action two days after running your Marathon, yes you need rest – but you also need to keep moving. Your body has got used to training, don’t let it slip away, getting the bloody flowing again at a very gentle jog will help — I promise!

4. Eat lots of fruit & protein – the natural sugar and carbohydrates in the fruit will do you a world of good and give your body what it needs to recover properly, you burnt a serious number of calories pounding the streets now it’s time to take back on what your body needs to repair and avoid any damage.

5. Cross-train – if you can’t succumb to a run just yet, get out there and go for a swim or a cycle. Keeping your legs moving with low-impact exercise will speed up the recovery process. Don’t do anything too strenuous, but don’t just stop completely! That’ll do you more harm than good!

The Habit Hunter x