Build Ultra Endurance

Posted On By Todd F. Cole

Push your limits with words of wisdom from ultra-marathon hero Dean Karnazes.

American ultra-runner Dean Karnazes, 49, has won the infamous Badwater Ultra, finished 50 marathons in 50 days and run 560km non-stop. Improve your staying power with these tips from a man who has made endurance his mission in life.

Don’t stop moving

Winston Churchill said it best: “When you’re going through hell, keep going.” When I’m in a bad place in a race, I make a commitment to myself that I won’t stop unless I’m on a stretcher. Try to stay in the moment — if you hit the wall during a marathon, don’t think about how far there is to go. Just think about putting one foot in front of another to the best of your ability.

Step by step

When I ran 50 marathons in 50 days [throughout the US in 2006], of course there were days when I could hardly even face getting up. But I’d just say to myself, “OK, get out of bed. Now brush your teeth…” and carry on like that. People ask me how you run across America. I say it’s the same as running a marathon: one step at a time.

Focus on finishing

If you’re going to switch from running marathons to running ultras, you need to shift from thinking how fast you can go to how far. Start slow, and if you think you’re going too slow, slow down. If you’re hurting halfway through an 80km run, you’re not going to make it.

Embrace the wall

I hit the wall all the time. The difference is that while a lot of people try to kid themselves that a race isn’t going to hurt, I accept that it’s going to hurt and I view the pain as a challenge.

Find the right fuel

Experiment on training runs to see what works for you. I’ve recently discovered coconut water, which has some glucose and a great mixture of electrolytes.

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