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Lessons Learned from Ultramarathon Training

Ohio River Road Runners Club Marathon and Half Marathon Recap


Welcome to Fitness Friday # 90

Celebrate fitness. Celebrate good health. Celebrate friends. Celebrate your passion.

Last weekend I ran the Ohio River Road Runners Club Half Marathon. This was going to be a half for the sake of training and I had a plan.


Recently I realized that I naively thought ultrarunning was like any other running just more of it. I could not have been more wrong.

Slowly but surely I’m learning.

I started the race telling myself repeatedly “think like an ultrarunner” and find a pace that feels like you can run all day consistently. I reminded myself that this was #2 of b2b runs and the first run was 10 miles the day before. Lastly, I was going to run the half and turn around and add 7 miles for a 20 mile training run. I experienced successes with this training run as well as a few hard lessons.

Ohio River Road Runners Club Half Marathon


  • I ran the entire half at a consistent 10:40-10:50 goal pace.
  • I used the water stops.
  • Increasing my pace and a PR did not consume my thoughts.
  • I felt like I could run all day.
  • I’m beginning to think more in terms of distance and time on my feet.
  • After a weekend of running my longest b2b distances so far, 30 miles, I felt like I could do anything!

Lessons Learned

  • I referred to aspects of this race as mistakes. My coach, Christine, called them growing as a runner and finding out what my body can do. Lesson Learned: I HAVE to be more positive.
  • I let too much time pass after finishing the half and before I turned around to add on the 7 miles. By the time I crossed the finish line, timing chip cut off, water and a bite to eat and the bathroom my legs felt like lead and running was the last thing they wanted to do. Lesson Learned: Spend minimal time at the aid stations during ultra races. How much time to spend at the aid stations wasn’t something I hadn’t even thought of before now. I need to know how long is too long.
  • I could have run the half at a faster pace and stayed consistent. Lesson Learned: Stop underestimating myself.
  • The last 7 miles I hesitantly included walking. From every book I’ve read and every podcast I’ve listened to incorporating a run-walk rhythm is a necessity. Lesson Learned: I need to become more comfortable with walking during a race.

One more thing before we link up.

Congratulations to the 13 in 2013 Spring Giveaway:

Flexline Hydration – Gigi Becker
Energy Bits – Lauren
Swiftwick – Kyria
Sweat Pink pink laces – Julie Donahue
Spright Cosmetics – Amanda Lowry
Spright Cosmetics – Pattie Kepshire
Spright Cosmetics – Darlena Kolpack
Spright Cosmetics – Samantha Golden
Active Accessories On-the-Go Pouch – Carrie Skoll
Sportline Home Gym – Shanna McCallum Greenwood
Organic Teas – Rebecca Schaefer
Organic Teas – Natalie Torres

Watch for an email from Jen or I this weekend for details to claim your prize.

Blog Maintenance. As we all know Google Reader is going away (or maybe it’s already gone). I’m trying out Bloglovin as a replacement. Click below to follow and if you’re using Bloglovin leave your link in the comments and I’ll follow back.

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  1. Love it! As an ultramarathoner, I love hearing about others entering the sport. 😀

    In terms of the 13in13 prizes, did that email go out? I just want to make sure that I didn’t miss anything.


    1. I think I already replied on Twitter but just in case, not yet. Emails going out this week.

  2. The best way to incorporate walking for me is during water stations. I always stop (if I need water or not) and walk through them, say thank you to the volunteers and then run again.

    1. Hi Christine. When I was running I remembered you talking about your brief walk breaks. I’m learning!

  3. I totally forgot you were going to be in Xenia! I was one of the blue shirt runDMC people. I’m glad you had a successful race/ 🙂
    I’m also switching to Bloglovin’. It seems to be the best option…

    1. Hi Jamie. I knew someone mentioned being there but I forgot who. Next time we’ll meet 🙂 I saw so many of the runDMC shirts. What group is it? Are you running any other races in or close to Cinci?

      1. RunDMC stands for DailyMile Columbus. The group was formed several years ago by people in Columbus who “met” on DailyMile. I don’t have anything on the schedule close to Cinci. I’m running CapCity in Cbus and I’ll be going to Xenia again next year. 🙂

  4. Congratulations on a great race! I am not an ultra-runner, but I always incorporate walk breaks in any distance longer than a 10K. I did not do this when I first started running. When I added walk breaks to my half marathon I cut 15 minutes from my previous PR. (which is still painfully slow, but faster than it was:) ) I firmly believe that walk breaks are very kind to your running muscles.

    1. Rhonda I agree. I’m not sure why I have this irrational mental block when it comes to walking. I’m not typically an irrational person and everything I’ve read strongly supports walking for all distances. I’m working on it 🙂

  5. Great run and training for the ultra! It’s great that you’re listening to your body and staying at a comfortable pace!

    1. Thanks Emily. I’m beginning to think that a consistent pace is going to be a big key to my success. I have to remember think distance not pace!!!

  6. How great that you’re paying attention and fine-tuning what you need to do. Way to be mindful!

    1. I get so freaked out about running 50 miles I feel like I need every advantage I can get 🙂


  7. Congrats on your successes, and your lessons learned. Both give us motivation.

    1. Thanks you Vicki! I’m actually enjoying the lessons learned and the trial and error almost as much as the successes 🙂

    1. Hi Ima,
      I followed you too! What are some of the glitches? I’m not finding that it’s very user friendly. Thanks!

      1. I started out using the iPad app for blog reading to read the blogs I follow. Only after a couple of days did I realize the app doesn’t so you the entire blog post on some blogs. Some blogs you see the whole post, other blogs you just see pieces of it. Unless you compare the post in the app to the one using safari or explorer you don’t know that parts of it are missing. The app offers you the option to open the post in safari (iPad) so I started doing that with all of the posts. Unfortunately they open very slowly and sometimes the app will just close. My next thing was to try opening the posts from the blog Lovin page in safari. That works better than the app, but still opens the posts in a Blog Lovin page which often causes them to open very slowly. I am not sure if there is a better system out there or not though.

        1. That seems like it would get annoying. I haven’t tried the app. I think for now I will stick with the BL page. Thanks for the info!

  8. I always love reading even though I am not a runner – I just run & not an ultra.. BUT I love the learning!

    1. Good morning Jody,
      Same with me with your weight training! Which by the way I think my comments on your blog are being spammed 🙁

      The learning and finding out more about who I am as a runner and a person has been an amazing experience with ultratraining that I didn’t have with training for other distances.

      1. I usually got notice of spam comments so I can approve legit ones.. I will check… GoDaddy sucks but is cheap for now,, 🙂

  9. Nice job Jill and great lessons. Someday I will once again train for an ultra (and be healthy to run it).

  10. It sounds like you’re getting out of training exactly what you need to!! It takes a lot of trials and tribulations before you learn what’s best, so the best you xsn for is learn them now!! You are on the right track!! For me I usually atop at the aid stations for about a minute. I think your legs will become less tired the more miles you add on, but it will take time!! Good luck! And hurray for winning…I’ve been wanting to try the swiftwicks!

    1. Im actually enjoying the learning and trial and error of this training. I’m learning a lot about myself as a runner and a person. Congrats on the win! I love Swiftwick! I’ll send you an email this weekend to get your shoe size.

  11. Great job, Congrats! I have a few friends who run Ultra’s and they all like you have said you learn so much as you train and do them. But each have said Ultra’s have made them smarter trainers for other distances. I love your tips too, they are great suggestions for any runner to keep in mind!!!

    1. Hi Kristy. I can definitely see how ultra training can make you a better running for any distance. The learning and trial and error is so different from marathon training.

  12. Great advice! I really like all the information you are giving on ultra marathon training, it’s been great to learn so much! And congrats on your b2b days totally 30 miles, that’s awesome!

    1. Thank you Lauren! I’m loving this training in ways that are so different from marathon training.

  13. One of the hardest things for me to learn when I was doing my weekly distance run was to slow down and even walk at times. My recovery time was so much better when I did that. Now, that I’m getting back into running, I’m reminding myself to slow down because I want to get out there for the next run.

    1. Hi Barb. As illogical as I know it is I have a mental block with walking when I run.

  14. I’ve used shorter races in a number of training runs and sometimes it goes well, other times I push too hard or like you said hang out too long. Glad you are still enjoying the process of learning what works!!

    1. Thanks Amanda! I’m enjoying the learning and discovering more about who I am as a runner and a person. I never really felt that way with marathon training.

    1. Hi Michelle. I’m so jealous of Newton reaching out to you! Put in a good word for me 🙂

      I’m enjoying the learning and trial and error of this training!

  15. Congratulations Jill! Great job! Great lessons learned.

    I’ve already got you on my Blog Lovin feed. It was pretty easy to convert over all of my Google Reader blogs all at once. Apparantly if you do that before GR goes away, it’s simple.

    Yay! That I won a prize! Thanks for hosting the 13 in 2013 – and I can’t believe this is #90 of Fitness Friday! I don’t think I’ve missed very many. Huge congrats on that.

    1. I know! Almost 100 Fitness Fridays! Thanks for the bloglovin tip! I’ll make sure to transfer my blogs.

  16. YAY I won!!! I also have Bloglovin’ now and I am following you of course! 🙂

  17. sounds like a valuable learning experience. i can’t even imagine running that many miles or more…so it’s super inspiring to read about people who do!

    1. Thank you Lindsay. That’s exactly how I felt when I read about other ultra runners before I committed to this goal. And still do!

  18. What a great day of learning for you! Really smart to take note of all that and incorporate it later on. I’m sure you will be thankful you did that!

    1. Hi Amanda. I loved the whole experience and I’m enjoying learning more about myself as a runner and even a peek at who I am as a person.

    1. Hi Laura. I’m actually enjoying the learning and trial and error parts of this training.

  19. I think it’s always important to reflect on what we do so that we can learn from the things we do…big or small! 🙂

    1. I totally agree! Taking even a little time to reflect brings perspective that you might otherwise miss.

  20. Great lessons – for all of us, even if we’re not in ultra training 😉

    1. Hi Amy. That’s exactly what I was thinking when I was running the half. Great minds 😉

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