Not a day goes by that you don’t lace up your running shoes — or if it does, you invariably feel grouchy and out of sorts. You find yourself running longer distances, even veering off the beaten path to run over tricky terrain on the road less traveled.
Some days, though, it feels like even these unorthodox runs aren’t satisfying enough.
Are you ready to put your body to the test? Ultrarunning may be the sport for you!
First, What Is Ultrarunning?
Strictly speaking, an ultra race is any competition that includes more distance than a typical marathon’s length of 26.2 miles. However, most ultra events are 50K or 100K races. There are a few other qualities that make this sport unique — read on to learn what it’s all about!
1. It’s (Largely) Trail Running
Unlike regulation half-marathons and marathons, ultrarunning races often take place over grueling terrain. Participants run up and down mountains, through snow, over ice, and among absolutely beautiful forests.
If this sounds difficult — well, in a lot of ways, it can be. You need physical endurance, as well as a certain determined (some say “stubborn”) mindset to overcome the challenges of this taxing sport. Yet running on trails can be much easier on the feet and the joints than regular road or track running.
2. Some People Actually Do It In the Desert
Two of the world’s most intense running competitions include the Badwater Ultramarathon and the Marathon de Sables. The Badwater takes you through Death Valley — that’s right, the hottest place on the planet with temps reaching 120 degrees! — and asks you to climb some 19,000 feet in the process.
The Marathon des Sables, in the Sahara, is a 151-mile race in which participants must camp for 6 or 7 days, carry their own gear, and make their own food!
3. It Is OK To Go Slow — Or Even Walk!
Just as a marathon differs from a sprint, so an ultramarathon differs from a marathon. Walking is not frowned upon; in fact, it’s necessary to conserve energy and traverse elevations. Some ultrarunners rely on trekking poles, too.
Ultrarunning is much less grueling than you may think, in part because it’s slower paced. And it’s less about “winning” or beating a personal best than it is about digging deep and finding the physical and mental fortitude to simply finish.
4. It Gives You a Sense of Accomplishment Like No Other
Think running the New York or Boston Marathons gives you bragging rights? Well, sure, it does — but imagine the accomplishment you get from running a 100K? That will give you something to talk about when your coworker brings up Crossfit!
5. It Will Change Your Life
Sure, ultra running is a pretty amazing exercise. Even more, it will give you confidence, teach you perseverance, and convince you that anything is possible with enough motivation (and some strategic carb-loading!).
Runners who compete in these races are a pretty tight bunch, too, so chances are you’ll forge some incredible bonds.
Would You Try an Ultramarathon?
Are you intrigued by the idea of pushing your body to its limits by attempting an ultramarathon? Or does the very idea of ultrarunning make you want to crawl back into bed? Have you ever run a super long distance race?
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!