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Interview with Rory Coleman

Rory Coleman position 237th Marathon des Sables 2011 – Photo Credit Mark Gillett - Junglemoon Images

Interview with Rory Coleman


Last updated: 06-Nov-18

Rory is a veteran of ultra running having done 224 ultra races at the time of writing, including over 11 Marathon de Sables races and is well known to many ultras. Here you can read about his incredible ultra achievements and invaluable top tips for successful ultra running.

Q. How long have you been doing ultras?
A. For 19 years.

Q. How did you first get started doing ultras?
A. After running a few marathons, I wondered just how far I could run. There were only a handful of ULTRAs that existed back then and they were more like official marathon races than the more relaxed running experiences we have nowadays.

Q. What motivated you to start running?
A. I was living a very unhealthy lifestyle and used running to help me through a difficult period of my life.

Q.When did you do your first ULTRA race?
A. The 33 mile Grantham Canal Race - 28th August 1995.

Q. Why do you keep running ultras?
A. I love the feeling of accomplishment and the distance the ULTRA-journey provides. I always think it’s amazing to go such a long way just using one's feet even after completing 224 ULTRAs so far.

Top Tips on running

Q. What are the essential ingredients to being successful in ultras?
A. Patience and being incredibly focussed helps no-end as does investment in time and energy into ones training as you only get out what you put in.

Q. What tips would you give to someone doing their first ultra?
A. Please follow link to my top tips here.

Q. What type of kit do you feel is essential for an ultra?
A. The lightest, lightweight tested in training kit possible coupled with supportive trainers and good quality socks.

Q. What is the one thing you never travel without?
A. I never leave home without my iPod Nano as it enables me to run in the ULTRA-bubble zone and makes the miles just fly by closely followed by my Garmin and heart-rate monitor.

The good times running

Q. What is your proudest achievement to date?
A. There are so many but making it into the Guinness World Records, nine times for ULTRA-running on treadmills is a landmark in my ULTRA-career to date. My 10th GWR is planned for later in 2014.

Q. What has been your favourite ultra to date?
A. The Marathon des Sables of course.

Q. Which type of ultras do you like best?
A. Multi-stage or Mega-day Marathons.

The Rough Times running

Q. What aspect of ULTRA-running is the hardest for you?
A. I’m not sure that anything has been a hardship as I’ve loved running ULTRAs so much and I’ve CHOSEN to take this life-path. I do find running ULTRAs a very positive thing to do.

Salvation time

Q. Who or what has been your biggest help in doing ultras?
A. I believe that music has been my constant partner throughout my whole running career and lots of songs are very emotive to me when I’m training and racing.

Q. Have you made any significant sacrifices to complete ultras?
A. The biggest sacrifice is financial and no doubt I could have been on a lot of luxury foreign holidays or bought a very expensive sports cars but I wouldn’t have had the enjoyment and satisfaction that I’ve gained from all of my running exploits.


Q. What have you learned by doing ultras?
A. I’ve learned that I can really achieve things that I would never have thought of doing earlier on in my life.

Q. How do you feel ultras have changed you and your life?
A. Running the Marathon des Sables in 1999 and most years since has completely changed my life and allowed me to find out what life is really all about.

Running ULTRA-marathons has given me time to think, consider and reassess my potential and also to meet my future wife, ULTRA-marathon runner, Jenny Salter.

Q. Any helpful sayings or beliefs that have helped your running?
A. Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail – Toughen up Buttercup.

Q. How do you get motivated to do the training?
A. I don’t need motivating and I have hundreds of ULTRA-running clients I coach watching every race I take part in to keep me on task. You have to live the dream in my job!

Training and Preparation for running

Q. How do you train for an ultra?
A. I pick two events a year and train specifically for them only using my own 12 week training cycles leading up to race day that I’ve developed over my many years of coaching. It’s based on miles in the tank for endurance coupled with hours and hours of running on the treadmill and nasty hill training sessions to build speed and leg strength.

Q. How does your training differ for each type of ultra?
A. Most of my racing requires the same approach to my training and it’s based on peaking for the race I have in mind. Race performance is determined on confidence gained during the training period and buying into whatever race I am going to compete in.


Q. What race are you doing next?
A. Marathon des Sables #11 - in April 2014.

Q. What do you hope to achieve with your ULTRA-running in the future?
A. I want to complete my 1000th marathon at the Marathon des Sables in 2017 and set that 10th GWR later this year and continue running and enjoying ULTRAs for as long as I can or want to.

Q. What would be your dream ultra-event?
A. It’s always been a dream to run for 365 days of marathons or more which I think would be challenging both mentally and physically and provide a marvellous epitaph

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