Do’s and Don’ts of Ultra Running

By Paige And Lynn,

Hydration HQ's Newest Ultra Runners

Over the past few months, we trained for and ran our first trail ultra (and first ultra ever!) At the Gorge Waterfalls 50k. We learned a lot along the way: about ourselves, about each other, and about ultra running. But first, for those who don't know us, here's a little bit more about me (Paige):

It wasn’t until about 2.5 years ago that I learned to love running and it wasn’t until I started training for my first ironman that I learned to appreciate the long-distance races. I found the journey extremely humbling and realized I wanted to keep seeing how far I could continue pushing myself. That’s when I decided that my next goal would be to run an ultra marathon. Having never run trails before, I was excited for a new challenge and to learn how my body and mind perform on technical courses vs. A road. Some days were fun, thrilling and felt easy, while others were frustrating and mentally tough, but that’s what it’s all about! Overall, the experience before, during, and after was unforgettable. I will carry my newfound passion for trail running with me always, and continue striving to immerse myself in as many beautiful places and going as far as I possibly can!

And me (Lynn)!

I started running about 5 and a 1/2 years ago, and within the first year, I quickly went from racing 5ks to half marathons to marathons. Accomplishing each racing milestone made me curious how much harder and further I could push myself. Though my goals may change for each race – focusing on speed and/or distance – I am continually excited to take on a new challenge and see what my body can do. This past year I decided to take on the ultra-distance and literally went from running zero trails, to training on trails every single weekend. My goal going into the ultra-marathon was to a) enjoy the process & look forward to the training runs; b) arrive at the starting line injury free; and c) enjoy each mile of the 50k. I'm happy to say I completed the race and successfully hit each of my goals! I will definitely sign up for another ultra-marathon and I can’t wait to apply everything I learned from this training cycle to the next one.

Now, on to the good stuff!

Do have a few goals and adjust your expectations depending on weather or how your body is reacting. This could include your finish time, nutrition plan, and planning out your drop bag situation.

Don’t neglect your nutrition and hydration during the race and ignore your routine. Stick with what worked during your training ie dinner, breakfast, and race day nutrition. 

Do know where your aid stations will be. It is helpful to break the distance down into checkpoints, and focus on each of those as a “finish point” vs. Focusing on the total miles.

Depending on your location, do look for poison oak before taking a quick personal break in the woods (hey, when nature calls…). If you can’t remember what poison oak looks like, just remember the ‘ol saying, “leaves of three, let them be!” Just be aware of your surroundings, people!

Do have a mantra! Positive thoughts are the most encouraging thing you can do for yourself when you enter your pain cave. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • “I am so strong”
  • “Do the work and trust your training”
  • “I can do hard things”
  • “Your mind is your propeller”
  • “There will be beer and pizza at the end!”

Don't be afraid to make friends on the trails. There is no such thing as a stranger in the trail running community because we’re always ready to party!

Do get a good race day photo aka stay positive and keep smiling!! Who knows where that photographer may be hiding?!

Race photos: Glenn Tachiyama

Don’t forget your post-race outfit! Comfy shoes/sandals and a fresh change of clothes will go a long way after you have been on your feet for so long.


Do remember to enjoy it. We know it’s easy to get caught up in analyzing the time per mile but remember to enjoy the day. You earned this so soak in your surroundings, embrace your emotions and savor every minute of it! 


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