Ultra-Distance Sport - 5 Mental Preparation Methods

Ultra-Distance Sport – 5 Mental Preparation Methods

Ultra-Distance Sport – 5 Mental Preparation Methods


Pete shares his methods for mental preparation during ultra-distance events.

When marathon distance running or Olympic distance triathlon no longer satisfy the hunger, ultra-distance may beckon. The first steps are physical preparation and event planning but the athlete who overlooks the mental rigors of ultra-distance will fail. It is irrelevant how physiologically prepared one is, if the mind is unprepared the body will fail.

Read on for my top 5 tips for mental preparation to help you complete your ultra-event…..


Ultra-Distance Sport – 5 Mental Preparation Methods


So you have taken the plunge and signed up for an ultra. What now?

Ultra-Distance Sport – 5 Mental Preparation Methods.

Every event is different and required it’s own unique training schedule. Depending on exactly what and where you are competing (or indeed what you contemplate completing) will require the appropriate level of preparation. It may well be that certain events will need a large support base, funding and years of preparation. Other events may be well thought out for you.

Whatever you intend to do the mental preparation will be as, if not more important than the physical.


Pete’s top 5 mental preparation methods

  1. Physical preparation

Although this blog is concerned with psychology, the physical preparation for any ultra-event cannot be overlooked. How to train for a long distance event is complex, specific and outside the remit of this blog. Suffice to say metal confidence will come from knowing you are physically fit and ready for the event, peaking at exactly the correct moment and not over-trained.

Being physically fit and capable of the rigors to come will allow the mind to focus on the event and not be distracted with early onset fatigue, sprains or strains which are inevitable with inappropriate or inadequate training.

2. Support team

The event may already have support laid on or you may need to prepare your own. Selecting the correct people with knowledge and passion for your event is vital to your success. If you are having a  “bad” moment during an event or challenge having people who understand you and the event will be able to help you. Whether that be provide navigation, the right food or simply a morale boost. They may be central to your success.

3. Positive thinking

There is nothing worse or damaging than entering into a negative downward spiral when the going gets tough. If you allow this to happen it can easily finish the event for you. You need to develop a regular positive thought process which can be in the form of a mantra, virtuous thoughts of completing certain sections, mentally rewarding yourself for overcoming obstacles, etc.

4. Sectioning

Something which will be a natural process during training for an ultra will be breaking down the whole event or challenge into smaller sections. Each section will require its own preparation taking into account terrain and difficulty making the sectioning idea easier. If you think about the whole distance too much it will break you. Concentrating on smaller units is manageable and distracts from the difficulties of the whole event as one unit.

5. Familiarization

To develop the correct mental aptitude you need to replicate or ideally train on the terrain you intend to compete on. Environmental, orientation, terrain specifics not to mention eating and drinking patterns must be well thought out and practiced to succeed. Any one of these incorrectly practiced can make you fail. 

Many an athlete has fallen down not by poor physical adaptation but through inadequate or incorrect food or liquid intake prior to or during an event. Nothing as far as possible should be unfamiliar on event day.  

Practice these techniques and they will help you succeed in your challenge or ultra-event.

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