How to plan your own ultramarathon!

Three Rivers 100k


Were all of your races cancelled?  Yes!  So plan your own.

This past Sunday, May 31st, I ran my first 100k.  I dubbed it the Three Rivers 100K.  Check out my Strava link to see why.

It was a really great day and a huge accomplishment for me.  It took me about a month to plan out all of the logistics and I’m happy to say that all went according to plan on ‘race day’.  Oh yeah – and I finished first!!

While, I can’t tell you how you should plan your ultramarathon, I can tell you how I planned mine.  

Step 1 – Pick a distance


I picked the 100k distance because I’ve wanted to go farther than I’ve run before and 100 miles seemed too much for me right now.  Also, running 100 miles by myself didn’t sound too fun.  100k seemed doable for me.  I’ve run a 51 mile trail race, Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim, and the ‘around the mountain’ trail on Mt. Hood in Oregon.  My training has gone pretty well since January.  I’ve had really good overall mileage – a bunch of 60/70 mile weeks and some longer runs.  The one place I didn’t feel well trained in was long runs.  I am a stay-at-home dad to a now one-year-old baby.  I can get in a lot of 60-70 minute runs but the longer runs, and especially longer trail runs, are tricky to get in.  Also, as a healthcare worker my partner works a lot.  So I often choose family time on a Sunday over trail running.  So anyways, pick a distance!

Step 2 – Plan your route

I used the route planning tool on Strava.  While it is a bit finicky, it should give you a pretty good idea of how long your route is.  I also assume that it will measure a shorter distance than what is on your watch.  Strava/Google maps/etc. run on perfectly straight lines, while you and your watch do not.  I wanted a course that was mostly trail running, not too hilly, and started and finished at my house.  For some reason, I like the idea of starting and finishing on my porch…very COVID-19…

Step 3 – Find a way to record your run


In this time of social isolation and cancel everything, I knew that I wanted to be able to record my run and share it.  My previous watch was a Garmin 225 that had a battery life of about 8 hrs, so I knew that wasn’t going to cut it.  Also, the Garmin 225 isn’t able to keep your activity recording while it is being charged.  After toying around with recording on my phone, I broke down and bought a new Garmin 245.  After all, we are in an economic recession and I have a civic duty to stimulate the economy, right?

I’m happy to say that this watch is sweet!  After 14 hrs of running, using GPS and GLONASS satellite systems I still had about 45% battery life left.

Step 4 – Logistics (food/water/gear)

Food- Bring a bunch of food!  I planned on 300 calories/hr for 16 hrs.

Water- I started with one litre (two 500 ml bottles) and planned to fill up in the creeks and rivers. I treated the water with Pristine/Aquamira.  I do have a 1.5-litre bladder but I hate running with it, so I left it at home.

Gear- Most of this run was very close to ‘civilization’ so I went light.  I carried:

1. Small first aid/blister kit

2. Bear Spray

3. Ultimate Direction Running Vest

4. Cell Phone

5. Earphones

6. Aquamira water treatment

7. Two 500 ml Ultimate Direction soft bottles

Step 5 – Friends!

I wanted to meet up with some friends and I was so glad to see them on ‘race day!’  There is definitely something to be said about going it alone, but in the end seeing friends was uplifting and the coconut water was delicious!

If you have any question about planning your own ultramarathon please let me know!