Ultramarathon training resources

Hi everyone, appreciate this is more running than triathlon but there’s such a wealth of experience on here that I’ll get better advise than asking on ST or IMJ at least haha

For the past couple of years I’ve been running marathons and focusing training around that. Training would typically follow two cycles of winter would be one training plan of alternating easy runs with days of lots of MP work (4-6x 10:00 or 2-3x 20:00 sort of WOs) with a smattering of XC racing to get ready for April marathon. Autumn marathons came of Jack Daniels two long quality workouts a week with lots of easy running. I find both these training plan similarly effective but find the change works well to match the seasons when it can be harder to follow a JD plan in winter.

These have seen me achieve 2:37 marathon, 1:12:40 half and a solo 16:16 5k time trial. I didn’t quite get the marathon time I should have in 2020 but think I’d have been around 2:32

Next may I’m going to having a slight step up to ultras with a 40 miler flattish trail race that is local are fairly small at around 200 people. Winning time usually hovers around 4:50-5:00. I’m going to make no bones about it I want to win next year and win well. I want to go out at a pace where people’s initial reaction will be ‘that guys an idiot and doesn’t know what he’s doing’. I’m thinking around the 4:30-4:35 mark to achieve a strong course record. I’m currently running my steady aerobic runs at a sub-4 km pace so the main training aim is about pushing this easy pace out longer and longer.

I’ve run quite a few marathons now and have also run a couple 5 hour events (snowdonia trail marathon) so I feel I’ve got a good starting point but does anyone have good resources for training for ultras. I like a good training book but I’m very much more towards the structured training such as Jack Daniels rather than more wushu-washy training guides that talk about going for a run in your sandals and loving the mountains to become one with them. Ultra training books seem even more susceptible to this type of book than regular running manuals:)



  1. Head on over to Trail & Ultra Running Thread if you haven’t already. Lots of advice and experience in that thread dating back to the start of TT 2.0

  2. For flattish races, probably topping out a the distance you’re talking about, your marathon training principles will probably do you well. Clearly you won’t need the speed element, but it’ll all be about maintatining that efficiency. 4.30/km is a very steady pace for you, so it’s just about how long you can keep that form going for. That’s what you’ll need to work on.

  3. Personally, I think Ultra running deliberately veers away form the structure of the likes of a Jack Daniels. There is so much variation compared to ‘normal’ road races up to marathon distance - terrain, elevation, ground conditions, distance, weather, night vs day, self supported etc etc that writing a more formulaic style of book just wouldn’t work. I also think a lot of people, me included, head over in that direction again to deliberately move away from splits and miles and pace. It’s more about a holisitic management of body and mind (without wanting to sound too hippy trippy). Managing race pain, race pace, nutrition, dark pacthes etc .

For that reason i’m yet to come across any reading that would fit into what you are looking for. Though if you have any designs on big elevation races, then Training for the Uphill Athlete would be a good shout. Though you will be familiar with many of the principles discussed in the book already.

Not sure if that helps.

Happy to offer whatever insight i can offer - i’m no expert, just a guy that likes to get out and try a bit of everything - on more specific elements. Or i’m sure there are plenty on here that can be a good critical friend in terms of taking an objective look at what you’re doing and making suggestions.

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thanks GB, like you say because a lot of variability in ultras (partly because Id say 100 mile is nowhere near the same as a 50 miler) but I was hoping there might be some good resources as to how you start to extend marathon training out to Ultra. Its part of the reason I picked this event is its local, I know the paths, relatively flat as trail 40 milers go and 40 miles it about right stretch for me. I guess its similar to with triathlon I fancied a half-IM but always found the thought of 10+ hours for an IM just boring to be honest. I like the intensity you get at events like a marathon but very few really RUN a marathon at the end of 6 hours on a bike. 5-ish on a HIM seemed a nice balance of a day out and intensity:)

Ill take a look through the thread:)

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Although not as fast as you, I have run a few marathons, 2:45 and under 3 times and a smattering of ultra’s. Mainly longer ones, but a couple of shorter ones.

I have never altered my training for an ultra, I have a (perhaps silly) rule never to go over marathon distance in training. I find it too tedious. Although I do average a lot of miles a week (130-160) this year.

They only solid advice I see that maybe makes sense is to do back to back long runs over the weekend. I do this sometimes anyway and I suspect it helps. But these are only 25-30k. Other than that you are clearly a good runner so keep going with what you do.

FWIW, a couple of years back I tried to run 6 hours at 4:38 pace, so similar to your intended pace/distance (aim was 75k in total). I got to about 4 1/2 hours and then had to slow. 4:38 was (possibly still is) just the wrong side of comfortable plod pace, given you are a 2:37+ marathoner you are probably already at that level so then it is just a matter of confidence :slight_smile: .

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I think the problem with what you’re looking for is that you’re not in traditional ultra/trail territory but more ‘how to run a fast road ultra’ territory and there isn’t much of that about.

Most ultra trail trail resources have advice on fast walking, hill walking techniques and dealing with weather and terrain. Few of them deal with actually running fast because with very exceptions (the likes of Miller, Jornet, Pixie Ninja etc) very few of them do. The training is about momentum and not speed, which is a skill in itself.

Your best bet might be to check out the reports and training for things like Endure24 and those US events that are 24hrs on track, as they both happen on consistent, ‘flat’ surfaces.

You will probably be finishing 40miles in a faster time than a lot of folks take to do a marathon. If going a very long distance is too tedious, consider back to back longish days.

Personally, I prefer a tedious long day on Saturday and half that on Sunday because the prospect of two 5-6hr days in a row sucks the life out of me on the Saturday (which is probably why I’m always near the back in races :laughing: )

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Thanks for the further advice guys. Im currently 24 weeks out and just concentrating on some good weekly mileage with some strides on a couple runs. The hard bit will probably be keeping the weight off around this time of year!

The back-to-back long run weekend is something ive heard before and makes sense to me as a long weekend without the damage of one massive run so ill get this in at some point! I’ve also started following the trail running thread so will watch with interest. Thanks for taking the time to write:)