Ultramarathon training plans for every long-distance runner and goal

Whether you want to complete your first ultramarathon, or you're a regular ultra-runner and have tons of experience under your belt, on this page you’ll find everything you need to know to get the most out of your training.

How to train for an ultramarathon

An ultramarathon, also known as ultra distance or ultra running, is any running race longer than a marathon (42.195 kilometers or 26.2 miles).

It can cover various distances, ranging from 50 km (31 miles) to more than 320 km (200 miles). Single-day races are typically up to 100k, while longer distances are covered in longer, multi-day races. Many ultramarathons are done on trail routes in diverse environments, ranging from mountains to deserts. 

Some ultramarathons are for a fixed distance (such as 50k, 100k, 160k, or more), while others are for a fixed amount of time, where the winner is the one who covers the longest distance in the allotted time. 

An ultra race will test not only your physical preparedness, stamina, and endurance, but also your determination and capability to persevere. Training for an ultramarathon typically takes a few months and requires a lot of effort, time, and dedication to staying consistent and holding yourself accountable.

If you’re looking to start training for an ultramarathon – such as an Ultra X race, for example – you probably already have experience with other long-distance races, such as marathons or half-marathons, so you know that developing a weekly running routine and simply going out to run three, four, or more times a week is essential, as is getting your weekly mileage in. 

For this, we recommend adding your running sessions to your calendar, using an app to track your progress, and connecting with other ultra runners in your area to train together. 

The best way to do all this is to use a dedicated ultramarathon training app like Runna to build and follow a personalized ultramarathon training plan based on your current fitness level, goals, the date of your race, and your schedule. 

Our personalized ultramarathon training plans

One of the best ways to prepare safely and efficiently for such a major challenge as an ultramarathon is to follow a training program that is customized to your goals, preferences, and running experience.

With Runna, your ultramarathon coaching app, you get a personalized ultra running training plan that:

  • Sets out all running sessions for you
  • Automatically adjusts your mileage and types of runs to enable you to get the most out of the time you have available
  • Incorporates deloads and easy runs
  • Includes strength training sessions specially tailored to improve your running performance
  • Gives you plenty of tips on how to manage your recovery and nutrition

Plus, it’s much easier to stay accountable if you have a training plan: With all the logistics taken care of, you can focus exclusively on becoming a better runner.

We have plenty of plans to choose from, based on the race distance and current level. Pick the plan that best suits your goals: 

50k ultramarathon training plan 

If you’re preparing for a 50k ultra race (31 miles), you can choose from the following 16-week training plans: 

  • Intermediate 50k ultramarathon training plan: This plan is ideal for you if you have no prior experience with ultra running but have completed a few long distance races, such as 30ks or marathons – or if you’re coming back after a break. It’ll help you prepare for your first ultra marathon in a safe way by gradually increasing your weekly mileage and incorporating different types of runs into your training. 
  • Advanced 50k ultramarathon training plan: If you have already done one or more ultra races but want to level up your running game with a structured training program, this plan is ideal. It’ll help you get the most out of each training session by alternating between different kinds of runs.
  • Elite 50k ultramarathon training plan: This plan is for runners who have plenty of long-distance running experience but want to get faster. It dials up the weekly mileage and uses different kinds of training sessions to enable you to set a personal best at your next ultra running event.
  • Elite plus 50k ultramarathon training plan: If you’re looking for our most intensive 50k ultra training plan, the Elite plus is for you. This plan features the highest weekly mileage of all plans in this category and helps you become a faster runner and unlock your full running potential.

100k ultramarathon training plan

For those of you who want to compete in a 100k ultra marathon race, we have the following three plans, all of which take 16 weeks to complete: 

  • Advanced 100k ultramarathon training plan: This plan is for experienced runners who have already taken part in a few ultra races but want to prepare for a 100k ultra event with a personalized program. It alternates between different types of running sessions to help you prepare and also features optional strength training and plenty of advice for your recovery and nutrition.
  • Elite 100k ultramarathon training plan: If you’re a highly experienced ultra runner but want to set a personal record on your next race, this plan is the perfect match. It features a higher weekly mileage, different types of runs, and optional strength training to help you get faster. 
  • Elite plus 100k ultramarathon training plan: Set on setting a personal best on your next 100k race? Our Elite plus training plan will help you prepare. It’s our most intensive 100k ultra training plan, with the highest weekly mileage and varied running sessions to help you get at the top of your running game.

Multi-stage ultramarathon training plans (110k, 125k, 220k, and 250k)

For the multi-day ultra runners out there, we have three two-day (110k and 125k) and three five-day (220k and 250k) training plans, all of which are 16 weeks long. You can always repeat a few weeks if you have more time to prepare or want to ease your way up to the longest distances. 

Those plans are ideal for Ultra X runners and will help you prepare for your next multi-stage Ultra X race.

If you want to take part in longer multi-stage running events (such as the legendary Marathon des Sables in Morocco) you can use our 250k plans and adapt them to the actual mileage of the event (220k or 250k).

  • Advanced 110k ultramarathon training plan: If you’re preparing for your first or next 110k or 125k multi-day ultra race, this plan will help you get the most out of your training. Our coaches have built this plan with different types of runs and optional strength training to help you prepare for your next race safely. 
  • Elite 110k ultramarathon training plan: If you’re training for a personal best, the Elite 110k ultra training plan is for you. It’ll help you become a faster and more efficient runner with the help of an increased weekly mileage, different types of running sessions, deload weeks, and strength training sessions. You can also use this plan to prepare for 125k ultra races. 
  • Elite plus 110k ultramarathon training plan: This is our most intensive training plan, geared towards highly experienced runners looking to run a faster 110k or 125k ultramarathon. It dials up the weekly mileage and uses more challenging training sessions to boost your running game and help you get the most out of your ultra training.
  • Advanced 250k ultramarathon training plan: If you’re looking to run your first, or next, 220k or 250k ultra marathon, using a structured approach to your training is a must. This plan will give you exactly that: With varied running and strength training sessions spread out through the week, it’s the best way to prepare for a 220k or a 250k race.
  • Elite 250k ultramarathon training plan: This plan is for experienced ultramarathon runners who want to set a personal best on their next 220k or 250k multi-day ultra race. It features a higher weekly mileage, varied running sessions, and optional (but highly recommended) strength training to help you finish faster and stronger.
  • Elite plus 250k ultramarathon training plan: This is our most intensive and challenging training plan, designed for elite ultra runners who are looking to set a personal record on their next race and reach the top of their running game. It features the highest weekly mileage and complex and varied running sessions to help you prepare for your race. 

An ultramarathon training app like Runna is one of the best ways to prepare for your first – or next – ultra running event.

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Ultramarathon nutrition

Proper nutrition is essential for being a successful ultra runner: After all, preparing for an ultramarathon involves not just getting your weekly mileage in, but also eating right to fuel your training sessions and recovery.

To help optimize your recovery, you need to: 

  • Keep your protein high
  • Take on plenty of carbs before your tougher sessions
  • Balance electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium) 
  • Make sure you stay hydrated

If you're looking to really push the pace or distance during training, you can experiment with caffeine, too. 

For your next ultra event, and also for the longer training sessions leading up to it, fueling on the go is super important. Here are some important things to consider:

  • As you run, you use up your body’s glycogen stores (glycogen simply stores energy), so you need to replenish them continuously – otherwise you risk seeing a drop in your performance
  • Eating while running enables you to replenish your glycogen stores, but it takes some getting used to; digestion is not always easy while you’re moving
  • You need to experiment with different foods and combinations while training to make sure you know how your body will react to them and what works best for you
  • Learning how to fuel on the go while training for your next ultra marathon will help you run further and faster, enabling you to make the most of each training session and build your muscular and aerobic endurance

Race week nutrition

The week of your next race is when you’ll be carb-loading. Carb-loading means ingesting enough carbs to allow your muscles to store them in the form of glycogen and for it, you need to:

  • Increase the ratio of carbs in your diet
  • Reduce your mileage 

You don’t need to dramatically increase calories, though; simply aim to increase the proportion of carbs in each meal.

In parallel to that, you need to keep your protein intake high. This helps with muscle recovery and also slows the digestion of carbohydrates. 

Remember all other areas of recovery, too: 

  • Sleep well
  • Keep your body hydrated
  • Do plenty of mobility exercises 

For every gram of glycogen, your body will also store 3 grams of water, so if you put on a little weight during this period, that’s perfectly normal and means that you have successfully carb-loaded.

Reduce your fiber intake a few days before your race; this will help reduce the weight in your intestines and enable you to have a smooth run. 

Two to four hours before your race 

After spending the last 7-10 days replenishing your glycogen stores, you need to top them up with one last high-carbohydrate meal before your race. Try to have it 3 to 4 hours before you start running to hopefully get your bowels moving. Keep fats to a minimum, aim for moderate protein, and focus on carbs. 

Before and during your run, you can use gels, gummies, bars, and electrolyte drinks to fuel, as well as solid, easily digestible food. 

And remember: Don’t do anything new on race day. Practice race-day nutrition during your longer training sessions to make sure you know how your body reacts to different types of food and only stick to tried and tested options.

Ultramarathon cross-training and strength training

Cross-training and strength training are a great addition to any ultra training plan. They not only help you optimize your performance and become a better runner but also reduce your risk of injury. Let’s look at the details:

Cross-training: Cross-training adds variety to your training and helps mitigate the risk of burnout and overuse injuries. Plus, in case you do get injured, it’ll help you adapt and stay in good shape while you recover. There are many options to choose from, such as swimming, cycling, or rowing, to name a few. Ultimately, what’s most important is to choose a sport that you enjoy. 

Strength training is a crucial part of a balanced training program, especially if you’re looking at long-distance races like marathons and ultramarathons. For the best results, you should use a program that focuses on exercises specifically designed to boost your power, speed, and endurance by building the muscles involved in running. This enables you to improve your performance and running economy by 8 to 12%. 

While running, your calf muscles absorb up to 11 times your bodyweight in force, and your quads up to 4 times. If your muscles aren’t capable of tolerating these loads, then your running form will suffer and the force will be distributed elsewhere, as for example, in your skeletal system. This might lead to bone-stress and other injuries.

Runna provides you with a fully personalized strength and conditioning plan that fits alongside your ultra running workouts. Our strength training plan for runners is adapted to:

  • Your current strength ability
  • The number of weekly workouts you want to do
  • The equipment you have at hand (even if you don’t have any)
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Types of runs for ultramarathon training: Speed work, long runs, easy runs

Marathon training involves a mix of different types of runs, each with a specific purpose. 

Speed work

Speed work is essential for building your fitness for an ultramarathon and becoming a faster runner. There are two main types of training sessions that’ll help you improve your speed performance: 

  • Interval sessions: During an interval session, for short periods you run faster than you can run continuously – and then you rest (walk) in between. This forces you to adapt to faster speeds and will improve the pace at which you can run for longer stretches. 
  • Tempo sessions: In those sessions, you run at a slightly faster pace than usual, but for longer – and jog between faster stretches.

Long runs

Ultra running is all about long distances, which means you need to build up your endurance with long runs during training. The goal is to help your body get used to running for longer periods – and the best way to approach this is to structure your sessions in different ways and to include faster sections within your long runs.  

Long runs will also help you become a faster runner for shorter distances and build your overall fitness (aerobic base).

Easy runs

Easy runs should be the cornerstone of every long-distance runner’s training program, but are often neglected. 

Running slowly if you're aiming to improve your finishing time feels counter-intuitive, we know. But easy runs exist for a good reason. 

Running fast is very challenging for your body: It increases your injury risk and requires longer recovery times. By integrating frequent easy runs in your ultra marathon training plan – in fact, the majority of your training sessions should be easy runs – you’re still building your strength and endurance while also enabling your body to recover faster. 

Here, you can use the 80/20 rule: Spend 80% of your time doing easy runs and only 20% of your time running at or above threshold pace. 

How about the pace for easy runs, you might wonder? The slower, the better.

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Ultramarathon pacing

An ultramarathon is an endurance event, so to reach your top performance, you need to make a realistic plan about your pacing. 

Ultramarathons often come with a few extra challenges, compared to shorter races:

  • The terrain: Many ultra races are on varied terrain, so you need to take this into account; a road race is obviously less challenging than running on a muddy or rocky trail 
  • The weather: What’s a minor annoyance during shorter races might become a major challenge when pacing an ultramarathon, especially if you’re running in nature; prepare for changes in weather, too
  • Mindset: You need to be able to push through moments when your motivation dips and you feel closer to quitting than to the finish line; pacing can help you with this

To create a realistic ultramarathon pacing strategy, work out your goal time, i.e. what time you are aiming to finish in, based on the distance you’ll be running and on the terrain and weather.

Then, break down your ultramarathon into sections and focus on each section at a time: 

  • First half: The first half of an ultra running race should feel fairly comfortable; stick to the slower side of your target pace and don’t compare yourself to other runners or try to race them. Enjoy this part of the run and try not to get caught up in the excitement of the first few miles; ignore the position you’re in for now and make sure the effort feels sustainable and comfortable.
  • From halfway to the final miles: You’re now halfway through – and this is where your ultramarathon really starts. Focus on getting to the next kilometer or mile rather than worrying about the long way you have ahead of you. If you’re feeling strong, you might gradually work your way up to a faster pace, but only increase it by a few seconds per kilometer. If you’re not sure, then wait.
  • Final push: You've got a few more miles or kilometers to go. By now, you’re probably feeling quite tired – but everyone else is feeling that way, too. Now is the time to give it everything you’ve got. Focus on runners ahead of you: Can you catch up with them? Can you get to a better position? In the last kilometer, go all in! You’ll soon be able to celebrate finishing your ultramarathon – and wind down.

Keep on top of your fueling plan from the get go, for example by using a gel or a bar every 30-35 minutes (i.e. about 60g carbs every hour).

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Ultramarathon recovery: sleep, rest, cross-training, and more

Congratulations for completing your ultramarathon! Now is the time to rest and recover. 

Most ultra runners see the finish line as the ultimate end and never really think about the recovery process. But running an ultramarathon is a huge challenge – it’s stressful, exhausting, and painful – so you might feel like you got hit by a bus.

To get back to running soon (and without risking an injury!), approach your ultramarathon recovery as an essential element of your training. 

Here are some tips to help you recover from an ultra marathon: 

  • Get at least a few days of rest: After your race, give your body a few days of rest from running. Other sports are fine – cycling, hiking, or swimming are all great options – but stay at a low to moderate intensity. 
  • Take care of your post-race nutrition: Use carb- and protein-rich meals to refuel your body’s glycogen stores and help with muscle recovery.
  • Get enough sleep: Sleep is super important, because that’s when your body repairs itself. Because of the stress and adrenaline rush from the race, it might take you a few nights to get back to consistent 8-hour nights. In the meantime, you can use naps strategically to help your body recover. 

Set a new goal: Finishing your race will leave a vacuum if you don’t have another goal lined up. Setting another goal will help you stay focused and transition to your next training plan.

Ultramarathon gear: shoes, clothing, and more

What you wear while training for an ultramarathon and on race day will impact your comfort and performance significantly. 

Always keep in mind the golden rule: On race day, don’t try anything new. 

Stick to clothes, shoes, and gear that are tried and tested – and in which you’ve already run long distances. A minor discomfort due to having the wrong gear can turn into a major inconvenience or even an injury risk during your race.


Invest in high-quality performance fabrics that wick away moisture to keep you dry and comfortable during training sessions and the race. Polyester or nylon are good choices; avoid cotton, because it retains moisture and can cause chafing. 

Running socks can help prevent blisters; female athletes should also pick a well-fitted and comfortable sports bra. 

Make sure you try all your race-day clothing and accessories on a few long training sessions.

Ultramarathon shoes

If you’re preparing to run an ultra marathon (or any long distance, for that matter), buying a good pair of shoes is essential. Shoes protect your body and joints from the impact with the ground and help prevent injury. 

We recommend going to a specialized runners’ shop that has a treadmill in-store, so that you can test a few different pairs. 

If you're looking to shave a few minutes off your finishing time, you could even look into a light, carbon-assisted pair of shoes!

Other gear: Watches, hydration gear, and more

A running watch (or your phone’s GPS tracker) will help you monitor your pace and distance during your training sessions and the actual race. Plus, a watch helps you track all runs and view and compare key data, such as your pace, heart rate, and progression.

To help you get most of your training plan, Runna integrates with Garmin, Apple Watch, Coros, and Strava. 

Hydration gear, like a handheld water bottle or a hydration vest, along with nutrition supplies like energy gels or bars, are also key for ultra running. You might also consider a running belt or armband to carry your phone, keys, and other essentials.

Don't forget to regularly reapply a high-SPF sunscreen and wear a hat or sunglasses to protect your skin from the sun, even on cloudy days.

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FAQ: All you need to know about ultramarathon training

Ultramarathon distance: How long is an ultramarathon?

How long will it take me to prepare for an ultramarathon?

Which ultramarathon training plan should I pick?

What ultramarathon finishing time should I aim for?

Ultramarathon training and injuries: What should I do if I’m recovering from an injury?

I only have 12 weeks to prepare. What should I do?

Ultramarathon and general fitness: Do I need to do strength training to run an ultramarathon?

I’m not ready for my first ultra marathon yet. What’s an easier goal I can aim for?

How can I progress from a marathon to an ultramarathon?

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Take your running to the next level

Your personalized running coach with tailored training plans to achieve your goals, from running a faster 5k to finishing your first marathon.

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