Every tip I can think of for a first ultra


Written with Jimmy in mind, I’m sure you’re well aware of most of these, but hopefully something will be useful.

The taper

  • The rule of thumb is to reduce your weekly volume by 30% each week. This seems to work well. Really you want to be keeping things loose and making sure you do a lot of stretching (of warm muscles)
  • Avoid any speed work, you don’t want to pull anything, or deplete your glycogen levels
  • I’m not sure excessive eating is all that helpful, normal intake with reduced load should be enough, but it’s your first ultra! Eat what you want!

Mandatory kit

  • Check, check and re-check the race kit list. Make sure you’ve got everything way ahead of time (save yourself anxiety dreams and next day delivery charges)
  • If there is anything you don’t want to splash out for a one time use (eg blizzard bag), borrow it


  • Only plan to wear stuff you’ve used before, no need to be faffing with unfamiliar straps or getting new chafage on the day (more of that later)
  • Having spare socks (and shoes) can be heavenly to change into half way, but can take time, most likely worth it
  • You will get cold, you will need a hat and gloves 
  • As soon as you finish you’re going to get cold very quickly, a down jacket in your final drop bag will help


  • Don’t try anything new on the day, this includes the piles of lovely looking (but potentially stomach churning) goodies at the aid stations
  • I’m not a fan of gels, proper food (sandwiches etc) might take more chewing but is less likely to send you on sugar high/crash cycles
  • If you get cold, eating helps


  • More and more research suggests that dehydration isn’t the evil fiend we’ve been led to believe, drink to thirst
  • It’s good to have at least one bottle of plain water in your pack, sports mix can get pretty distasteful after a while
  • If you’re using a bladder, beware the danger of it suddenly being empty, again a spare bottle comes in handy here, also easy to fill from streams


  • As far as I can tell, anything that can rub itself raw, will
  • Body glide, vaseline, use liberally. Under arms, between your arse cheeks. Nobody wants a sore behind for 12+ hours!
  • A wicking, tight t-shirt or long sleeve shirt underneath other kit works well. Similarly for pants. Decathlon do a good cheap range
  • I know you don’t like twin skin socks, but do consider them (hilly do some that aren’t too thick). Some people tape each individual toe and wear injinji toe socks
  • Blisters are probably going to be the main reason you end up in the most pain, if you can possibly prevent them, it might save your race

DNF or die?

  • This is obviously personal, but I think that if there is physically something very wrong, and by carrying on you’re going to make it a lot worse, then you owe it to your body to stop
  • If you’re just a bit tired and sore, then chin up boyo and tough it out
  • On any long race you’ll go through various high and low points, expect these and don’t be put off when things are a bit tough, it’ll get better. Think about how awesome it’ll feel crossing the finish line, how much you’ve trained for this, etc
  • Obsessing about how long it’s going to take you to finish doesn’t help here, think small goals (next tree/hill/ checkpoint)

Enjoy it

  • Look around you, chat to other runners, it’s a fun day out, no computers/traffic/ chores

You’ll be fine, trust in your training and have a cracking day!