According to all the research about how long can our body sustain running or racing Ultra races, most runners who focus on finishing times and podiums can usually run for about seven years before their body gives up. But for runners who love to run long distances, and are hoping to keep running for years and years, there are basic strategies to follow to maintain a strong body and stay injury free.
After an Ultra or intense race, take a break! People often don’t realize how long it takes to recover physically from long-distance races. Even if after a few days or a week we start feeling normal, we don’t realize the impact those distances have on our system. Not only does it affect our muscles, but it unsettles our hormone, neurological cells, and affects our resting heart rate. To listen to our body and take as much time as needed off running after a long race is very important to avoid injuries and sickness. Take one week or even two weeks off running. If you still feel like moving, use cross training, or other sports you enjoy at a mild pace to recover properly.
Take time off when your body tells you to. It is also important to take some time off even during training if we get certain signs from our body. Even runners who follow a coaching plan, listening to your body will ensure that you get to the race-start feeling strong. Symptoms include, feeling overly tired, having a higher resting heart rate, and when running feels more like a chore than a fun activity. Even taking a few days break can make a huge difference physically and mentally.
Vary your running. Regardless of what distance or type of race, including a variety of running techniques can keep you going for years and years. To include different running techniques can help avoid overuse injuries. Run short, long, fast, slow, uphill and downhill, on the trail, road, track. Include all different types of run in your training, as you will use your muscles differently, which again will spare you from overuse injuries.
Vary your type of shoes. For any distance runners, but especially long-distance runners, to run in different types of shoes will force the muscles in your feet and lower legs to work differently. Running with two or three different types of shoes (different stability levels, flexibility, height) will again train your feet muscles differently in order to avoid injuries. Also, we have to remember that our shoes wear out before we see all the damage from the outside of the shoe.
Find your best running partner. Running with a great running buddy is like running with a strong support system. It keeps us going, helps us enjoy running kms after kms, keeps us motivated, helps us stay emotionally healthy and happy. Running with a running partner while training is always motivating, and racing with a running partner can help you stay feeling strong not only physically but also mentally.
To make sure you can run Ultras for decades, you need to find out what works best for you, how your body and mind will be to able to stay motivated and enjoy it for years and years. Following a coaching plan is very helpful, but make sure you find a great coach that will listen to your body as well :)
Train Hard, Eat Right, and Feel Great!