For some people, running a marathon just doesn't cut. They need more, longer distances that cover a span of 50 miles or more. These runners push their bodies to the limit and train for months in an effort to join an elite status, a community of extreme runners that challenges your mental focus and defies the human body.
Welcome to the world of Ultra Runners.

Interview with an Ultra Runner

By Edmund Arellano

NeoEndurance recently had the opportunity to interview a seasoned ultra runner. Mariah had already completed four other ultras, and a confusing number of marathons that would make most men cower into a corner. As she was training for her FIFTH ultra, she was badass enough to take a break with us and answer a few of our questions.

What's your name and where are you from?

Mariah Summers. Originally from Upper Michigan, now living in Tennessee.

How many of these ultra runs have you done? Do you have a favorite? Why?

I'm currently training for my 5th ultra. My favorite was Resurrection Pass 50 mile. It is an unsupported, point to point trail race from Cooper Landing, AK to Hope, AK. It's a low key, locally directed "fat ass" style race that offers no bling or swag. Those are my favorite kind of races, because they are solely about the running and camaraderie among racers.

You must be one badass woman to run 50 or more miles. Why do you do it?

I do it for me. Very few people understand the appeal these races have, but after you finish one and experience the feeling of accomplishment and the exhilarating rush it gives you to see your weeks and months of hard work pay off, you can't help but come back for more.

Tell us about your training regime. How do you prepare for an event like this?

Training for an ultra is very different than training for shorter distances, both mentally and physically. At least for me. You have to train your mind just as much as your body to get through a race like this. I like to train by time, not distance. For instance, I will go for a three hour run, instead of planning a 16 mile run. It helps prevent over training, especially for slower runners like myself. This way, if you aren't feeling it, or are having an off day you just slow down and do what you can for three hours instead of pushing yourself through a certain distance that might keep you out there far longer than you should be. I also like to train with double long runs, doing a "mid" long run on Saturday and then a long run on Sunday. It trains your legs to be able to run tired, and it trains your mind to push your body through those tired miles.

Have you ever injured yourself running that far? If you have, what did you do to recover?

Fortunately, I've been lucky enough to never have been injured. Although maybe it's not luck, I'm very careful in my training and to never push myself through anything I know I'm not ready for.

We heard people eat on their runs. Big meals, too. We heard about this one runner who ordered a pizza during his run, had it delivered to the course, and ate while he was running. What's your diet like? Do YOU eat on your ultra runs?

I don't eat much actually. I've found through trial and error that I do much better on less food. The last 50 miler I ran, I ate half a Clif bar, a hand full of salt and vinegar almonds, and some gummy bears. A couple bites at a time here and there gets me through. A coconut water somewhere in the middle always tastes really good too!

Do you have any advice for first-timers?

There's so much advice I could give, but if I had to weed through it all and pick out the best I've been given, it's this:
Get over your mind telling you to quit. You'll have what I like to call "dark miles", when everything hurts and you feel terrible and you want nothing more than to just stop. Don't do it. If you have to puke, puke. If you have to stop and walk and get your mind together go for it. Find someone to talk to, listen to music, anything. Just know that you will feel better, and crossing that finish line will be worth it all!

Thanks for letting us interview you, Mariah! - NeoEndurance.

Need More Motivation? Watch this video.

Salomon "It's Just Running" from Andy Lloyd on Vimeo.

What do you think?

If you have any comments or questions, submit it below! Tell us about your ultra running experience!