27 ways to improve your ultra running

 In Running training, Ultramarathons

Ryan Sandes TNF

Many ultrarunners I know like to keep it simple; put shoes on, head out the door and run. There is nothing wrong with that approach but if you want to improve then the body has to have the right stimulus to force it to adapt and become stronger.

Elite athletes aim to leave no stone unturned in training. They do all they can to provide the body with the right stimulus and recovery to maximise their training. Whilst many of us don’t have the time to focus on training that some of the elites do most of us could improve in a number of ways with very little if any extra time involved.

I’ve listed below 27 ways you can improve your running that don’t need much if any extra time. See how many of these you can implement in your training program.

1. Know when to run hard and when to ease up. Many runners run their easy sessions too hard and that means their hard sessions aren’t hard enough.

2. Spend more time working on your weaknesses – whether its speed, uphills, downhills, stairs, trails – whatever it is spend more time doing it rather than avoiding it.

3. Build up the elevation of your training runs so it matches that of the race you are training for. If there is 400m per 10k in the race then thats what you should aim for in training. Even it the only way you can do that is to run up and down the same hill for hours.

4. Stop static stretching – its a waste of time.

5. Introduce dynamic stretching and do it daily instead of just when you are injured.

6. Add a running specific strength training program to your weekly routine. Thirty minutes twice a week can make a big difference.

7. Focus on running during every hard run. Dwelling on work problems during a hard run isn’t going to help your running.

8. Practise staying positive in every run no matter how bad you feel.

9. Smile when the going gets tough, you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

10. Step outside your comfort zone and choose some races that will show up your weaknesses.

11. Make getting 7-8 hours sleep a priority.

12. Stop eating processed food and increase your fruit and vegetable intake.

13. Include walking in your training – you do it in a race so practise it in training. It’s a big component of ultra running so why not train it.

14. Next time you buy shoes try several different brands on, not just your favourites and see if there is a shoe better suited to you.

15. Stop doing the same runs you always do and try a different route.

16. Run with people a fraction faster than you for your hard runs and slower than you for your easy runs.

17. Seek professional advice and get a personally designed running program.

18. Listen to your body and be prepared to have a day off or two when it needs it.

19. Don’t try and run through an injury.

20. If you have a persistent injury seek professional advice sooner rather than later.

21. Do the least enjoyable sessions more often, you’ll probably benefit more from them.

22. Practise your race day nutrition plan in your long run.

23. Do some regular meditation to develop the ability of the mind to stay focussed.

24. Decrease your alcohol intake.

25. Don’t be afraid to every now and then push yourself so hard in an interval session that you cant finish the session at the specified pace.

26. Running on technical trails is a skill so practise it often until its a skill that you have some level of competence at.

27. Don’t be worried about taking a few days off if you are feeling run down. We improve through recovery and if you aren’t recovering then all you are doing is breaking down.

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Showing 24 comments
  • george thomas

    a big thank you , we all know this stuff but it is good to see it again in a fresh way ,thanks

    • Andy DuBois

      Thanks for the comment George , glad you found the article useful

  • Tejo

    Thanks Andy for these gems of advice !

    • Andy DuBois

      Thanks or the feedback Tejo

  • Sarah

    Another great article Andy! You give some timely advice that I ‘ll use for my up coming 50k-thanks :-))

    • Andy DuBois

      Thanks for the feedback Sarah – good luck with the training for the 50k.

  • Ingo Weidmann

    Thanks Andy.
    Simple yet brilliant advice. Some that are easy to follow and some that require some discipline. I am happy that I am actively doing 80% of them and it helped to get reminded about the remaining 20%.

    • Andy DuBois

      Thanks for the feedback Ingo. Good to hear you are doing 80% – more than most! Good luck with the remaining 20%

  • Malcolm Gordon

    Very interesting comments, thanks, many motivating as well

  • David Elms

    Cannot argue any of that. Thanks for taking the time.

  • Deidre Tully

    This is brilliant! Thanks so much for sharing this information. It’s so easy to get muddled with excitement and training programs close to the race. Breaking it down definitely helps.

  • Keith Buzz

    Another kick@ss article.

    Love it..

    Like to add #28 – Leave your Ego at home.

    • Andy DuBois

      Love it Keith and agree but stopped at 27 as 28 doesnt really fit with Mile27 😉

  • Adrian

    You forgot, “Buy less gear from Wiggle” 🙂
    Great advice,


  • Jes

    Nice write-up

    Can you briefly explain static vs. Dynamic stretching? And also explain what the “proof” is that one is better than the other? This is an discussion I often hear.


    • Andy DuBois

      Hi Jes – just type in Mile27 stretching into google and there are a few articles that will explain it in more detail

      • Jason

        Thanks Andy – I agree that dynamic stretching is appropriate. Can’t see the article links that you mentioned…

        • Andy DuBois

          Hi Jason

          Dynamic stretching links herehttps://www.mile27.com.au/tag/dynamic-stretching/

  • Jill Thompson

    Thank you Andy, I’ll call upon this one on a regular basis I think. Always quality content from Mile 27.

    • Andy DuBois

      Thanks for your comments Jill – glad its helpful

  • Zegi

    Hi Andy,
    As I want to run my very first ultra, which is London to Brighton 100K challenge next year in May- I am looking go lots of helpful tips. I love the articles, but just found the site bit difficult to read because of the background design. I don’t know if I am the only person, who finds that way and if you would consider it to change it?!
    Another question; Do you maybe have any recommendation for this 100K race I could think about it? I just run last weekend my last marathon in Berlin. After a few days of recovery I will start running, and still looking for a training plan.
    I would appreciate any tips that you could give!

    • Andy DuBois

      Hi Zegi

      Thanks for the feedback – I havent had any other feedback re background design making it hard to read ( if anyone reading this has please let me know)

      Re the 100km – as I mentioned before a hard tempo one day followed by long run the next is the backbone for a good 100k training plan


  • Sheila

    I enjoyed reading your article Andy. A few good reminders there, like “working on your weaknesses” , not something I do often unfortunately due to a variety of reasons.
    I am very passionate about ultrarunning and am in need of a great coach to help me work on my various weaknesses and become a stronger runner. I have never tried online training but would like to give it a try. Thanks again Sheila

    • Andy DuBois

      Hi Sheila – thanks for your comments – I’ll send you an email to discuss coaching

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