As a coach I always get asked the questions: How can I go faster and how can I go further. Those questions are individually answered, based on the athlete and the wide range of variables. Here are a few things that I call "limiting factors" that need to be addressed in order to run your first ultra or improve upon your current performance.
- Current fitness level
- First time, fit as ever, coming off an injury, injury prone?
- Health factors determine a great deal of what an athlete has to overcome
- Finishing is great! Running to win requires a bit different mentality
- The 9-5 for some might be 12 hour shifts 4 days a week for others
- Where you live (New York City might be a difficult place to train for an ultra on trail in the mountains)
- Who you live with (Living in a frat house might be difficult to get enough sleep to train properly)
- Kids? Single Parents?
- Physciological (Vo2 max, Lactate threshold, cardiac output, etc)
- An athletes genetic predispositions largely affect their "ceiling" of achievement
- Ever expanding tech world is allowing athletes to train smarter and more efficient
Having the ability to accept one's limiting factors and then develop a plan to overcome them or adjust the outcome that raises their individual ceiling is the answer to how you run your first ultra or you improve upon your 100th ultra run. The body and your limiting factors are in a constant change of state.
A good practice before starting a new training plan is writing down a list of limiting factors and then determining which ones are adjustable and can be overcome. The next step is picking your race! I always prefer 16 weeks for more advanced athletes and 24 weeks for beginners looking to tackle the full marathon or 50k goal. If you are looking to race 100 miles, stage races, adventure races, etc. I would advise setting short term race goals first and build the confidence for making steps in the future.