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RunUltra forums > General discussion > From Tri to Ultra : Advice needed View modes: 
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Gregchoppen - 09/02/2019 18:41:29
From Tri to Ultra : Advice needed
Hi, I am a 57 year old, who, having completed more than a dozen triathlons over the last few years, is looking for a new challenge. I hadnt considered Ultra marathons until I happened to be in Chamonix last summer, during the middle of the major Ultra Marathon event. I have to say I was super-inspired by all the athletes, most of whom I saw returning to the town after completing whatever distance they had entered for. I couldnt quite get my head around how far they had run, or how high they had climbed! So here I am, having read a fair bit on Ultras, and realising that there are a huge variety of distance and types of events that are available - probably too many for me to actually work out which one I should start with! So really looking for some advice as to what distance I should start with (currently running 20 miles a week but have done my share of marathons in the past) and what type of event I should enter. I should add that the 'adventure' side of ultras really appeals to me - so looking for something that is not just following a well marked trail. Really appreciate any advice that anyone has!

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SarahCrunning - 10/02/2019 22:59:34
RE:From Tri to Ultra : Advice needed
Hi Greg,

Welcome to Run Ultra. Sorry for the delay in replying - I've had a chat with my colleague James who is a triathlete. Your tri experience certainly suggests you have the base fitness and endurance to successfully run ultras.

There is plenty of variety out there from well marked routes right through to those that do not allow GPS devices. Hopefully our race listings will give you some food for thought. The level of navigation required will often be in the description. If not, you can click through from the listing to the race website.

It would probably be a good idea to start with a 50km (ish) distance as your first ultra race - maybe do a couple over the summer. If you enjoy this distance, then maybe a 50 miler would be the next goal towards the end of the year.

In terms of training, there are many plans out there and different approaches suit different people. Cycling is great cross-training and the strength you will have as a cyclist provides a great foundation for ultra running. On that basis, you would not necessarily need to run lots of high mileage weeks as long as you get some longer runs in.

Long training runs not only prepare you physically, they also help you to adapt to the mental side of being on your feet for a long time and allow you to thoroughly test your kit and what you can eat and drink on the run.

It probably makes sense to start by searching our listings for races that are fairly close to you. Once you have built up a sense of the kind of terrain and race set-up you want to target, then you can consider which races are worth travelling to.

Many of our listings have runner reviews which will give you a good idea of what it is like to run them. If you want to start with something that is low-cost and low-key, then the LDWA (Long Distance Walkers Association) put on a number of Challenge events which are open to both runners and walkers. You can treat them like a long training run with checkpoints or race them. You tend to get a nice route and a lot of checkpoint snacks for a very small amount of money!

If climbing and adventure appeals, then mountain events might be something to consider. However, it may be worth doing something easier first and maybe trying some shorter events that are very technical before you build up to an ultra in the mountains and/or on very technical terrain.

We have a lot of articles related to all things ultra, so please have a browse of those too for information, tips and inspiration.

I hope this gives you some food for thought. Good luck!
Sarah Cooke


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