6 Signs You’re Training for an Ultra Marathon | Eclectic Cake: 6 Signs You’re Training for an Ultra Marathon

Monday, 17 August 2015

6 Signs You’re Training for an Ultra Marathon

My first ultra marathon is in under three weeks and I've pretty much done all I can to be ready for my 35-mile adventure round the beautiful island of Tiree. And after (fewer than is probably advisable) months of preparation, I've noticed a few things. I guess they're pretty standard signs of an ultra running in training but they're fairly new to me.

1. You convert all driving distances to running times

As I've gradually increased my running distance, my brain has slowly become filled with numbers. I now know roughly how long it takes me to run all sorts of mileage, from 5-miles full of intervals to a casual 26.2. None of the times are fast but it puts into perspective the distances I normally drive. A trip to the nearest climbing wall is a 2.5-hour run, trotting from my home in Hertfordshire to central London would take around 5-hours, travelling by foot to my parents' in South Devon would possibly take days...

2. You're always on the lookout for running routes

Mid-conversation on the train, my mind has wondered towards the window. Whizzing through Hertfordshire fields, I've spotted a footpath and now I'm wondering how I'd get to it and how far it goes on for. My company understands, this has been a common occurrence. With four runs a week and some big miles to squeeze in, I've almost exhausted my local running routes. I'm keen to not get bored of my local trails, so whenever I pass what looks like a runnable route I'll take note.

3. You start running in your sleep

If it wasn't already, running is on my mind all day every day and this apparently includes in my dreams. I'm not sure my sleep miles count as training but I've been woken with a shove many a night because I've kicked my husband whilst trying to run in bed. I'll put this down to mental preparation.

4. You use the word 'just' in front of most digits

Running any amount of mileage is an achievement but as I've dialled up the miles in my legs, the shorter distances seem less impressive. So I'll 'just' run 6-miles at lunch or 'just' have 15-miles on the plan for a Saturday. Even when I did my first marathon distance run, it didn't seem that huge an achievement. I'm proud, of course but when my goal is to run nine-miles further, 26-miles suddenly seems small.

5. You use less shampoo

When it's a toss between washing hair that will only get sweaty again on that night's training session and getting ten minutes more sleep, there's no contest. Rest is important, clean hair very much less so. The same goes for dish washing. Why spend valuable minutes cleaning a pan, when you can just throw in new food and hide the remains of last night's meal, so this runner can eat sooner.

6. Anything seems possible

I started running about four years ago. In that time I've gone from struggling to finish a 900-meter loop to happily running for hours on end. It's amazing to see how I've improved and what a body is capable of if you just give it the chance. I'm interested more than ever to see what I'm capable of, so crossing the finish line at Tiree will not be the end, more the beginning of an adventure.


  1. lol, funny how different everyone is in training for ultras. I'm soon to tackle my third and I the only one of these I can claim to have ever done is the "just" thing :) Best of luck with it!!

    1. You've obviously a more organised runner than I! Thank you and good luck with your next ultra.

  2. Yes to all of this- especially number 2!

    1. Ha ha! I find myself looking at random fields in Google Maps, trying to see if I can run there!

  3. Ha, that's very good, especially no.s 4 and 5, which I definitely identify with!