Doing well in an ultra marathon is not about running fast; it’s about running evenly. Often, the winner is the man who slows down the least.
That’s why you need to approach any ultra marathon, whether it’s 50K or 338K, with a sensible head and a plan. Picking a random target time and setting off at that pace just won’t cut it. There are just far too many variables.
At the beginning of any race of 100 miles or longer, you’ve got to be really, really comfortable for the first 50 miles. Besides a little muscle soreness, you shouldn’t be in any great difficulty. If you’re sweating profusely, struggling to eat, breathing heavily or just plain knackered, my advice is simply to SLOW DOWN.
Set off 50 minutes too quickly in the first half of a 100-miler and it will cost you two to three hours, minimum, in the second half. Slow down, on the other hand, and you’ll not only be able to achieve a more consistent pace, but you’ll also increase the chances of being able to eat and drink regularly, creating a foundation for a solid second half of your ultra marathon.
We don’t like to admit we’re going too fast, especially us blokes, but having a realistic grasp of your own ability is a struggle even for the elites. How many times do you hear an elite runner admit to blowing up due to pacing? There’s always an excuse.
So take it easy. Eat, drink and be merry. If you negative split a race, I’ll take my hat off to you – it’s the holy grail.