In part two of this three part series, Suunto ambassador Ryan Sandes offers more tips to help you become an ultra runner.
1. Focus on your goals
It's important you have a schedule and that you know where your peak weeks are and when you need to back off and at the same time that schedule needs to be really flexible. Some weeks you just might not feel up to it, whereas others weeks you feel on top of the world and can maybe even do a bit more. The training schedule allows you to know where you're going and enables you to focus on your goals.
South African ultra runner Ryan Sandes. ©Kolesky/Nikon/Red Bull Content Pool
3. Mix it up by cross training
Strength work, a little mountain biking. cross country skiing, ski mountaineering are really great to help become a stronger runner. Doing strength work is a completely different stimulus and good balance to long distance running as it helps to prevent injury. For guys who are really heavy a long run can really take it out of you. Doing it on a bike might be better. Swimming can also help. Aqua jogging is also quite good as it stimulates your cardiovascular system and also aids recovery.
4. Go hot and cold
Doing regular sessions in a sauna also helps. It increases your production of testosterone and stimulates recovery. Cold showers, cold tubs... they reset your neuromuscular system. Try different things and see what works for you. A lot of people break themselves by doing the same type of training so it's important to mix it up.
Ryan checks his Suunto Ambit once every 30 minutes. ©Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool
5. Warm up properly
Often before I run I do ten to fifteen minutes of basic mobility work to make sure everything is moving. People working a full time job might say they don't have the time, but I think you can do two or three minutes to warm up before you start running. Doing side bridge, push top leg back, basic mountain climbers bear crawls, basic lunges etc.
6. Quality over quantity
Running a high mileage works for some people, but it’s important you don’t follow others blindly and instead find out what works best for you. Doing more quality training and dropping the quantity is definitely a good idea. For beginners, it’s better to do less and to focus more on recovery.
Click here to read the first installment in this three part series from ultra running champion Ryan Sandes
7. Find your breath
It’s important to train your diaphragm as well as your legs. One of the first things that will slow you down and make you fatigued is poor breathing. Your diaphragm is almost like a muscle so you need to train it as well. Practice deep belly breathing and you will improve your oxygen intake.
8. Break it down
With ultra distance running you’ll constantly go through highs and lows and how you manage those will decide how your race will end up. It’s so important to stay positive. To help with this, try to break a long run or race down into lots of mini goals. Focusing on getting to the next aid station, for example, or getting up the next climb or to the next tree can trick your mind and make it all more achievable.
9. Get absorbed
When you’re doing your long trail runs it’s important to have fun and to get absorbed in your surroundings. I know a lot of guys who come from a marathon or 10 km background and they constantly look at their watches and worry about how many minutes each kilometer is taking. This makes it difficult for them to enjoy themselves. I look at my watch once only every half an hour because it boosts my motivation to know how long I’ve been out, how far I’ve gone or how much I’ve climbed.
Setting mini goals throughout the race helps to stay positive. ©Kelvin Trautman / Red Bull Content Pool
10. Go social
A lot of people like running on their own, and that’s cool, I enjoy it too, but it’s also nice to mix it up and run with other people. It makes it more fun. You’ve got to be careful if your trail buddies are a lot faster than you. It can be good for them to push you a little bit, but don’t do all your runs with them if you’re a lot slower. Do half your long runs with them and then go off on your own.
Regular strength training helps to prevent injury, Ryan says. ©Kolesky/Nikon/Red Bull Content Pool