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I have NEVER run an ultramarathon. Put another way, I have zero ultramarathon experience. That’s what qualifies me to be a subject of Becoming Ultra: Season 2. But while my familiarity with running farther than 26.2 miles is nil, my running experience is vast, and I plan to use the general store of knowledge I’ve acquired as a runner to increase my chances of having a successful ultramarathon debut on April 2, 2016, at the American River 50.
Each runner is unique and has a distinct combination of strengths and weaknesses. The more you know about yourself as a runner, the more empowered you are to exploit your strengths, account for your weaknesses, and prepare for races in the way that best suits you individually.
One of my weaknesses is that endurance comes slowly to me. I can cultivate the ability to exercise for many hours at a time, but I have to really work at it. If the longest run I’ve done in the past month is 15 miles, a 20-miler will destroy me. You could say that I require a lot of redundancy in my endurance training in order to avoid being limited by this component of fitness in longer races. I’m not the type of runner who can do a single 20-miler before a marathon and then crush it.
In fact, I ran my best marathon after a three- or four-month period in which I completed a 20-mile run every Saturday, and even back-to-back 20-milers one weekend. Likewise, I rode my best triathlon bike leg after completing 100-mile training rides on six consecutive Saturdays.
So I plan to take a similar approach to building the endurance I’ll need to succeed at AR50. As I write this, race day is 25 weeks away. Sounds like plenty of time, right? Not to me. I will use every bit of that time to gradually cultivate the capacity to run 50 miles in a respectable amount of time. In fact, I’ve already started. Last Sunday I ran 20 miles. It had been a while. It destroyed me.
Matt Fitzgerald is a thoughtful author focusing on all things endurance and nutrition. We are all looking forward to seeing how this experiment fares. We have agreed, whether a magnificent triumph or in a crumbled heap, Matt’s first ultra in 2016 will be a journey worth following. Learn more about Matt HERE.