Articles by Ian Sharman

Euro-Style Mountain Races

Major ultras have become increasingly international, with more than 200 Americans heading to UTMB this year. Euro races are typically steeper, more rugged, can include off-trail sections and can have thousands of runners...

Achieving “Flow”

Last month we discussed how to improve your mental toughness. However, ideally only a portion of a run will require that grit, whether it’s the end of a speed session or a rough patch in a race. We also want to find a wa...

How to Tap Into Your Potential

Many factors contribute to successful ultra finishes aside from pure physical fitness. Very often the weakest link in a race is the mind, not the body, so there are big potential gains for many runners. Below I’ll examin...

Training on the Course

An old adage at Western States 100 is that familiarity with the course can shave off hours from your finish time. There are many reasons why this can help you to prepare better, both physically and mentally, thanks to kn...

Crewing and Pacing Tips

In ultras we rely heavily on others to help us get to the finish. That includes volunteers and staff at races, as well as family and friends who crew or pace. Even if you prefer to run with minimal assistance, there’s a...

Power Meters and Fitness Trackers

In the January edition of UltraRunning we discussed GPS watches and Heart Rate Monitors (HRMs), two established, older forms of tech used by runners. Now we move on to Power Meters (PMs) and Fitness Trackers (FTs). Do th...

Too Much Tech?

Running is essentially a simple activity with a very low barrier to entry – a pair of running shoes and some athletic gear are all that’s required. However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to improve, avoid injuries or get t...

Progressing for Next Season

At the end of the year, most of us back off training and allow for a little downtime and reflection, plus, family commitments are especially time consuming (and fun) during the holidays. It’s also lottery season for many...

When to Back Off and Do Less

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear about a friend or well-known ultrarunner suffering from over-training. Although the exact medical mechanism that causes medium-term and long-term tiredness hasn’t been discovered, i...

Downhill Speedwork

As runners, we focus on what will allow us to run and race better, identifying ways to be quicker and to avoid slowing due to numerous potential problems in the later stages of an ultra. Although there are myriad reasons...

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

As runners, we set ourselves many targets. However, when we constantly push our boundaries, there’s some inevitable disappointment along the way. This isn’t a sign of weakness, but an indication that we’re challenging ou...

Favorite Events

Writing this, I’m on a plane on the way back from my favorite race. It’s an event that draws me year after year to travel across the world in cramped planes. Every time, it offers something unique and special to me. It c...

Lessons from Your First Ultra

Some of the hardest lessons are learnt during the first attempt at a given distance. The more experience you build up before taking on a new challenge, the better it’s likely to go, but there are always unexpected diffic...

Choosing Motivation

In a recent discussion with one of my clients, I was asked if I ever have issues with motivation, especially for long runs. The question surprised me, since I always assumed that everyone has tough days getting out the d...

Speed Sessions

We all know that to get faster, we need to push ourselves with some form of speed work, but the advice varies greatly on which sessions to include, how often to include them and why. In fairness, that’s because it depend...

Training Motivation in Bad Weather

For many across the world, there are certain times of year when it’s much harder to run outside, especially in winter. Yet endurance running requires commitment and consistency to improve fitness, and we all need to grin...

An Experiment of One

I wrote about mileage in my October 2015 UltraRunning article (“Piles of Miles”), and it got me thinking about how ultra training is particularly specific to the individual and the target event. This applies much more so...

Does Coaching Differ for Elites?

When runners ask me about coaching, they often assume that it’s just for the speedsters trying to maximize their chance to win races. Many wonder whether they’re appropriate candidates to benefit from being coached and w...

How to Avoid the Dreaded DNF

At some point in life, almost all of us have to deal with not completing a race. The term “DNF” (Did Not Finish) is a dirty word in ultrarunning. Logging a DNF can lead to months of soul-searching. So it’s important to t...

DNF

Piles of Miles

One common question almost every new coaching client asks me is what mileage they should run. It’s a good question, and the simple answer is that targeting mileage is generally a bad idea unless that mileage is very low...