Training the Mind for an Ultra Marathon Full Course Trails

So all the hard work is done.

You are tapering down to the big event and you have got your body in the best shape possible.

All the gear has been tested and the nutrition plan has been worked out But have you also been training your mind?

Whenever you take on an Ultra distance event the ability to control your mind in a positive way is sometimes one of the biggest challenges you need to overcome on race day.

Ask anyone that has toed the Ultra line and then will testify that at some point during the race they start having negative thoughts.

Usually, our good old lizard brain ( the one that tries to protect us from danger) is shouting at us to stop, saying things like Just Stop, you can’t do this, you have no energy left.. you are only half  way and how the hell are you going to finish.

However, the same people will tell you that they got through this and they did this by sticking to their plan and having the mental strength to finish.

Here are some tips to Train your mind and beat that inner beast that wants you to stop.

Prepare the Brain

Run through the race in your mind, look at the course map and mark out the different parts of the race.

Where are the big climbs, how long is it between checkpoints, where are you meeting your crew.

Now visualise this, go through the race, imagine that at the halfway mark you legs are hurting and you look up at that next big climb.

Focus on that and work out a plan in your mind to keep moving up that climb.

Come up with worse case scenarios and work out a plan to overcome them.

Do this for the whole race.

Now for the days leading up to the race go over that in your mind..

Do this a few times throughout the day and when you go to sleep.

Now if / when any of these scenarios come along you have a plan to deal with them.

It’s not a surprise( it will still be bloody hard)  but you have trained your mind to deal with this.

Be kind to yourself 

A nice little mental boost is to get some of your loved ones to write some words of encouragement or a little video message.

Social media is also a great place to leave encouraging messages.

Keep this in your drop bag or phone.

I’ve even seen runners who’re kids have written words of encouragement on their arms!

Do not underestimate the power of the ones you care about offering support.


I get a lot of stick from my friends and family about this one and I am sure there will be some of you that will be laughing at me now but hey it works for me.

When I’m feeling down and times are tough I actually make myself smile.

Now I don’t know if It releases endorphins or just the placebo effect but I can be struggling and halfway up that never-ending climb, head down, sweat in my eyes and I just look up and smile.

I look around and see the beautiful scenery and appreciate that I am outdoors challenging myself and let’s not forget .. We all signed up for this!

We really are the lucky ones and a little bit of appreciation goes a long way to lift your spirits and even those around you.

So don’t be scared to share that smile with others.

Mindful Music

This is the old favourite.

Times are tough, so pop on your favourite tunes and drown out that heavy breathing.

Music allows you to stay at a good tempo as well as distracting you from the pounding you are giving your body.

Now be careful with music as this distraction can be dangerous to you and other runners so a single ear application may be the best way.

Also, some events request no music so always check before plugging in.

Of course, there is a huge variety of options available to you in training your mind for an Ultra Marathon.

These are just a few suggestions that have been recommended and have work for me.

If you have any tips on training the mind that has worked for you feel free to post in the comments below so others can reap the rewards of mindful running.

I hope in some small way this can assist you to break past the mind games and onto the finish line.

All the best for your Ultra Adventures.

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