Ultramarathons are quickly becoming this generation’s marathon: everyone seems to be doing an ultra-distance race!
Anna Mae Flynn running in the Grand Canyon. PC Joshua Stevens
The sport of ultra running is exploding right now. Consider that the number of ultramarathons grew by about 1,000% over the last decade. In 2006, about 160 races were listed around the world. Last year, that number grew to an incredible 1,800.
In 2003, nearly 18,000 people finished an ultra in North America. That figure grew to 105,000 in 2017.
But while more and more runners are making the leap to the ultra distance (technically anything longer than the length of a 26.2-mile marathon), we haven’t yet figured out the ideal way to train for one.
This was made quite apparent last month when I moderated a discussion among ultra trail runners in Boulder, CO. Even elite runners are a singular experiment of one – and their training reflects a wide-ranging approach to the ultra distances.
Some cross-train while others don’t. Others come from a speed background and still incorporate faster workouts – others haven’t run fast in months.
While many ultra runners focus exclusively on super long trail distances, others still race short events and venture onto the roads or track.
In other words, we don’t yet know the optimal way to train a human being for these incredible performances.
But today I want to give you one approach that’s been working very well for one runner: Anna Mae Flynn.
Anna Mae Flynn on Conquering Ultras
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Last night I asked these three elite ultra runners what makes them feel confident heading into a race. For all of them, it was a combination of consistency, enough time for a big base, and good planning. Sound advice for all of us, no matter the race we’re training for! Thank you @aplevene, @abby.k.hall, and @annamaeflynn for celebrating #running last night! 🏃🏼♂️🏔🏃🏻♀️
Anna Mae is actually a recent entry into the world of ultramarathons. She debuted at the 2015 Way Too Cool 50k – only to have her finish time qualify as a top-10 all-time performance.
Today, her sponsors include:
She’s the current course record holder (and 2019 winner) of the Speedgoat 50 Miler. You can usually find her exploring trails and mountains near her home in Marble, Colorado.
Anna Mae joins me on the Strength Running Podcast to discuss her training. Specifically, we talk about:
- The (big) role cross-training plays in her ultramarathon preparation
- How she mitigates and takes advantage of altitude
- What a typical, heavy training day looks like for her
- Her average weekly mileage and vertical gain
- How she recovers after a 100 miler vs. a 50k ultra
- Injury prevention strategies for ultra runners (and the rest of us!)
Resources & Links:
- Follow Anna Mae on Instagram
- Support our sponsor Inside Tracker (code strengthrunning saves 10% on any test)
- Follow Anna Mae on Strava
- Visit Anna Mae’s Website
- See all of Strength Running’s coaching programs
Please join me in thanking Anna Mae for talking to us while she was traveling through the mountains! Give her a shout on Insta – I know she’ll appreciate it.