Motivation Training

Improving Mental Preparation for a 100-Mile Ultramarathon

If you have experience in this type of competition, you know how crucial physical preparation is. But don’t forget that ultramarathons also put your mental strength to the test. In this note, we will explore three exercises that can strengthen your mind and help you successfully conquer the distance.

Eating an Elephant

One hundred miles is an enormous distance, and trying to tackle it as one entity can be daunting. Instead of focusing on the complete figure, break it down into manageable portions. How do you finish a marathon? One step at a time. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Think of the race as composed of shorter races: 10 segments of 10 miles each or eight half-marathons or 16 ten kilometers. The goal isn’t to finish 100 miles but to complete each section and see the kilometers decrease as you approach the finish line.

This segmentation skill can also be applied to everyday life. Divide tedious tasks, work projects, challenging conversations, and other challenges into simpler components and work on them step by step. Training your brain to see a daunting task as a series of manageable steps can help you stay calm during an ultramarathon.

Here and Now

Once you’ve divided the race into segments, the challenge is to remain focused on the present moment and prevent the upcoming miles from overwhelming you prematurely. Training in concentration is essential in this context.

You can start with a simple concentration exercise during your runs. Choose an object in the distance, such as a distinctive tree or a lamppost. Instead of running at maximum speed, make an effort to concentrate solely on that object. Study it in great detail as you approach, to the point where you can identify small details. Note how easily your attention wanders. Try to maintain consistent focus until you’ve passed it. Repeat the exercise with other objects along the way, aiming to improve the tenacity of your concentration and the complexity of the chosen object each time.


Visualization is a powerful mental tool. Don’t just imagine what already exists; project yourself gracefully, confidently, and even effortlessly through the race. While we know that a 100-mile race is never easy, creating a mental image that exudes confidence and enthusiasm can make the experience less grueling.

Visualize yourself tackling uphill sections with determination, navigating downhill with agility, and crossing the finish line like a true champion. Engage all your senses: how do your shoes feel? What does your energy gel taste like? How does the air smell? Such realistic details make the image more convincing. Continue visualizing it until you start to believe it. Even if you never fully achieve this belief, don’t worry because the seed has been planted, and it will grow over time.

In conclusion, mental preparation is crucial for successfully facing a 100-mile ultramarathon. Remember that your mind is a powerful ally in your race towards the finish line. Good luck!