Training for an Ultra-Marathon Trail Run: 5 Tips from Ryan Sandes

Get ready for your next ultra-marathon with some tips and tricks from local and international trail running sensation, Ryan Sandes.

Ultra-Marathon Trail running races are fast becoming the accepted norm in South Africa, with trail runners loving the opportunity to push their boundaries both physically and mentally. 2020 MaxiRace Cape Winelands winner and world-renowned ultra-distance trail runner, Ryan Sandes, shared a few of his secret training tips on the best way to train for an ultra-marathon trail run.

“Running MaxiRace Cape Winelands last year was such an honour, the Mont Rochelle mountains are insane and such a privilege to play in,” says Ryan Sandes. “I have put together a few training tips to help runners get the most out of their race and hopefully enjoy it as much as I do!”

1. Consistency

“Try to be as consistent as possible with your training throughout the year. Ultra-distances like the 75km and 120km routes need a lot of training, they are not something I would recommend running with only a few weeks of training under your belt. Don’t try and cram all of your training in right at the end close to the race, and also don’t push yourself to do too many massive peak weeks as part of your training, keep it consistent!”

2. Follow a Programme

“Put together a training programme. It doesn’t have to be super detailed like a daily training programme would be, but a simple one that can help you to know when to focus on bigger training weeks and how to structure your training around family and work commitments. They also offer a great opportunity to set mini goals in, for example, smaller races that you can include in your training or just bigger runs to work towards – keeping you focused both mentally and physically.”

3. Specific training

“Train as race-specific as possible closer to the actual race. For example for MaxiRace, about 6 weeks before the race, get out into Mont Rochelle to do race-specific training, also important is to try to mimic the number of verts that you will be doing in the race in your training. For example, if the 120km race has 1500m of vertical gain, work that out per km and try to mimic this in your training. Another great option is to do the recce runs for the run, you will get a chance to be on the trail and also get invaluable advice from the guides taking the recce run on how to manage sections.”

4. Nutrition and Gear

“Very importantly and often overlooked – practice your race nutrition and race gear before the event so that you don’t have any additional variables to deal with on race day – trust me it helps to have one less unknown to worry about on race day!”

5. Plan and execute

“Finally, try to set yourself a race plan that you can use on race day, this will help you through the route and help to give you an idea of how well you are doing on race day.”

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