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    Developing your mental 'super power' to run ultra distances

    on May 31, 2024


    British ultra-runner, Rachel Langrish, has competed in 50 marathons and ultras in the last decade. Familiar with the mental resilience required to get through 'ultras', she shares her advice on developing mental resilience for when the going gets tough.

    Know Your "Why"

    Understanding why you’re racing and why you want to finish is crucial, especially for longer ultras where mental strength often trumps physical endurance. A strong “why” can keep you going when you're tempted to give up, except in cases of severe injury or illness. 

    During tough moments, revisiting your “why” or mantra can help you push through.

    Focus on the Process

    In long races, focusing on process goals rather than outcome goals is more effective. Outcome goals like setting a personal best can be derailed by variables like weather or terrain. Instead, concentrate on controllable factors such as your nutrition plan. For instance, aim to consume 60g of carbs per hour and take salt tablets based on weather conditions. By managing these smaller aspects, you improve your chances of achieving your overall goal. 

    Choose races or goals that scare you a little

    Select races that challenge you and have a high DNF rate or tight cutoffs to drive your training and excitement. The uncertainty of success can be motivating - and being prepared to fail in order to try.

    Plan for potential obstacles by analyzing race details and strategizing accordingly. For example, in a 50-mile race with a tight midway cutoff, manage your pace to avoid burnout and be efficient at checkpoints. Drawing on the experience of overcoming tough races can bolster your mental resilience in future challenges.