Let’s face it—we’re all better at making long-distance conference calls than running long distances, so the idea of tackling an ultramarathon (a race that stretches beyond the 42km length of a traditional marathon—anywhere between 50-100km) can sound a tad far-fetched. But those who have done the deed claim it’s worth the sweat. Local events like the Sundown Ultra Marathon (catch this year’s showdown on Jun 25, 6pm at the Marina Barrage) make good starting points because they’re usually not actual trail challenges. Sundown Ultra Marathon’s director Adrian Mok, who completed an Ironman race in under 12 hours, lets us in on what to expect from an ultramarathon.
How long does it usually take to prepare?
Someone who is already training regularly and consistently will need a minimum of four months to gradually increase the volume and mileage of his training. For someone who’s not had much training or is coming back from an exercise hiatus, it will take longer; probably about six to eight months of preparation. It’s important to have consistent exercise habits.
Who should take up the ultramarathon challenge?
I think someone who’s got at least three years of regular running experience and has completed at least four marathons will be most suitable to attempt an ultra. For anyone with less experience than this, a long period of preparation is required so as not to get injured.
What kind of qualities does an ultramarathon participant need to possess?
Good endurance, determination and motivation. All these can be acquired through goal setting, planning and sticking to a regime. Endurance comes from sound progressive training. 100km is serious business.
What can we do to avoid throwing in the towel at the last minute?
Listen to good music; the kind you know gets you going! Assure yourself that you can and will get through that difficult stage. Think of the beautiful places you’ve been and the beautiful experiences you’ve had. Positive thoughts help you get through that final leg of hardship. Watch a sports or motivational film. Lance Armstrong’s defining moments in the Tour de France and boxing movies can help spur you on. Heroic or inspirational moments in film often paint vivid winning imagery in your mind. Always works! When running, think of some rewards you can expect to receive at each stage, like that cold 100PLUS, some chocolates, a nice massage or seeing your loved ones waiting for you at the finishing line!
What’s it like when you get to the finish line?
It’s both bitter and sweet. Physically, it’s a very painful process but it feels like the ultimate accomplishment when you cross the line. It feels so rewarding because you know you have overcome a tremendous challenge.
If you’re a smartphone user, download GPS sports tracking app Endomondo to track and store your workouts (including routes), and upload them to their website. While you’re running, a voice tells you how far you’ve run (or cycled) and your current pace. Even your best friend can’t tell you that.
Adidas King of the Road 2011
Aug 28, The Padang, www.adidaskingoftheroad.com/sg
If you’re up for it, this is a good way to meet and compete with runners from all over Asia. The Singapore leg of the race is 16.8km but if you participate in the two marathons across the five countries involved, you’ll have run a total of 85km by the time the grand championship comes around.
Tour de Trail
Sep 24, Macritchie Reservoir, www.tourdetrail.blogspot.com
The person who runs the most number of loops (12km each) from sunrise (6:45am) to sunset (6:45pm) wins. You’ll need a lot of drive for this one.
Mizuno Wave Run 2011
Sep 25, Temasek Polytechnic Sports Complex, www.mizunowaverun.com
10km is a far cry from an ultramarathon but it’s good to get as much experience as possible in competitive running.
New Balance Real Run 2011
Oct 16, Changi Exhibition Centre, www.realrun.sg
This 21km run is split over several terrains like sand, trail and taxiway, making it a good way to challenge your stamina.