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How Long Are Ultra Marathon Races? Guide To Knowing How Much To Train

With ultrarunning becoming more and more popular around the world, we see more ultramarathon races popping up around the globe. People are looking at moving up from the standard 26.2 distance and challenging themselves to the longer ultra-marathon races. While these events can be highly challenging, some of these events are extremely tough and require a huge volume of training to finish.

Events like the Hardrock Endurance Run 100, is one of the toughest ultramarathon races in America. With a distance of 100 miles (160km) and requires you to reach over 10,074m of elevation. The course, like many of the hard ultra events, includes steep drops, storms and high altitude.

How Long Are Ultra Marathon Races?

An ultra-marathon is an event that is longer than the marathon distance of 42.195 km. The shortest ultramarathon usually starts at 50km.

These events typically last more than 6 hours. The most common lengths are 50-km, 100-km, 50-miles, and 100-miles. In addition to the most common distances, the longest ultramarathon races can exceed 1,000km or in days/hours ( 6h, 12h, 24h, 48h, 72 h, 6 and 10 days). The longest ultra event (Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race) covers 3,100 miles and takes place regularly.

Training for these extreme ultra running races is not for the faint-hearted. These events can sometimes require a total weekly volume of 70-140 miles. You have at least one ultramarathon behind you and multiple marathon races completed.

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The fastest ultra-marathon race times are between the ages of 35-45 or older, which means that it takes some years to build a solid foundation of volume and duration.

If you compare a marathoner with an ultramarathoner, training is at a much slower intensity but a higher volume than their counterpart. So it is important to focus mainly on build mileage in your training slowly and incorporating strength work as well.
The most common injuries sustained during an ultramarathon race is the ankles and knee. Spending adequate time strengthening these areas will pay off even during the longest ultramarathon.

If you are planning to run your first 100km ultramarathon event, our past article can help you plan your ultra training up to the event.

Ultra Marathon Mileage – How Much Do You Need To Train?

We talk a lot about training volume and how important it is for preparing for an ultramarathon. But can you finish an ultramarathon on low amounts of volume? Usually, not recommended, but if you have a strong history with running and higher the experience in ultrarunning, it is entirely doable. The reason we say not recommended is that there is a strong correlation between volume and ultramarathon success.

The foundation of ultrarunning is built around endurance-based workouts. These include easy runs, long runs and recovery runs.
The easy run is one of the most frequent types of runs the ultramarathoner does. These typically last up to 90 minutes while the recovery runs don’t exceed 45 minutes and can often be shorter.

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The long runs are typically many hours in length. The aim is to build the run length with small increments every few weeks. Some people recommend back to back long runs, but if you are new to ultrarunning, this should be used infrequently or planned in every 4-5 weeks. If you have limited experience in a high mileage training plan, it is better to keep to the single long run each week.

 


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