Ultra-Running Tips from the Pros Part Four
Written By: Ben Mounsey
In the fourth and final instalment of the series, professional runner, Ben Mounsey speaks to ultra-runners Gary House and Jarek Turif to get their top tips on how to improve your long distance running.
Competitive Ultra Runner & coach
STOP STRETCHING & GET STRENGTHENING
Some still see it as controversial but it’s really not – there is enough evidence to confidently support the notion that if more people worked on being a stronger runner rather than a flexible one, there would be a lot less injuries. When you think about it, why would you need to be that flexible? Tying your shoe-laces or getting over a style maybe, but that’s it. Out of the thousands of runners I’ve coached, those that I have switched out stretches for strength work have seen nothing but positive results.
My BIG 5 are: Deadlift, Split Squat, Hip Thrust, Weighted Calf Raises. Single Leg Press / Lunges.
HAVE A RUNSTOPPABLE MINDSET
Running an Ultra means that you will spend a lot of time with only your own thoughts to motivate you both in training and on race day, so it’s very important to strengthen your mind. Most plan races as if it’s going to be the perfect day, but it never is! Work on things that could go wrong in the race, so it’s easier to problem solve when you’re tired.
The first step is to realise that there are both intrinsic (challenge, role model, build confidence) and extrinsic factors (medals/t-shirts/profile pictures). You need solid reasons to train when its freezing, dark, wet or all three! - as humans we are hard wired to overcome and persevere, but you have to sometimes rediscover and practice it so that you are prepared on race day for the tough times.
DON’T LEAVE IT TOO LATE
There are four rules to follow in my opinion.
- Walk before you need to walk
- Eat before you need to eat
- Drink before you need to drink
Winner of the 10 Peaks Brecon Beacons Ultra 89km, 2019
CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY
When preparing for an Ultramarathon, think of your training with a perspective of short, medium and long term goals. Do you have a specific area of weakness that you want to improve? Are you hoping to improve a personal best? Or perhaps you are recovering from an injury? Apply a perspective to your training plan in order to consistently build your form whilst maintaining physical and mental well-being.
We are all at fault for wanting to run more. Running more does not always mean running better!
Unless your name is Pau, Xavier or Kilian you are unlikely to stand on the podium of an International race, and as much as we like competition and racing, concentrate on what you do well and remind yourself what contributed to that success? Perhaps you managed to get out the door when it was pouring with rain outside, your training partner finished his/her first ultra or you feel the first rays of spring sunshine on your face. There are million reasons to celebrate running!
Think of all the months and years of preparation. All of the sacrifices of waking up early, declining the second helping of carrot cake (my favourite) and the hours spent on your feet. For your main races in the calendar, allow yourself to rest and absorb the training impact. Personally, I have been following the 70/50/30 rule. This is the overall percentage of total running volume for each of the weeks before the race. Remember, it is always better to be slightly undertrained and rearing to run than over trained and too tired on the big day.
This is part four of a four-part series.