Ultramarathon Training Plans – How to Train for an Ultramarathon

Welcome to our library of Ultramarathon Training Plans!

The ultramarathon training schedules we’ve developed have been refined and road-tested by thousands of runners – each comes with explanatory notes and guidance.   

Our ultramarathon training programs are designed by distance, and split into three runner profiles – Just Finish, Improver, and Compete.

Choose an ultramarathon training plan which reflects your current state of running fitness, the amount of time you have available, and your ultramarathon goals.

How Long Is an Ultramarathon?

An ultramarathon is defined as any running event longer than a marathon; longer than 26.2 miles, or 42.195 kilometers.

How Long Does It Take To Train For An Ultramarathon?

The length of time it takes to train and prepare for an ultra depends on the length and nature of your ultra, your current running abilities and your ultramarathon goals.

I recommend that you spend at least four months training for your ultra – assuming you have some running background.

Generally, a good ultramarathon training plan should be 4 to 6 months in length; this allows sufficient time to build up the required mileage base, without ramping up too quickly.

How Do I Choose An Ultramarathon Training Plan?

Deciding which ultramarathon training program is right for you is a personal choice – it depends on what your current running ability is, how long you have until your ultra, and what your ultramarathon goals are.  

Just Finish:

Our Just Finish training plans are for runners who simply want to complete their event.  If you don’t want to spend all your free time training, and have no specific finishing time in mind, this is the plan for you.

Our Just Finish training plans usually have more rest days and very little speed work (if any); they’re designed to condition your body to complete the distance, but not to win any medals. The Just Finish training plans are ideal for completing your first event, or for runners with busy lives!

Improver:

Our Improver training plans are for established runners who wish to challenge themselves, and perhaps set a new PR.  If you’ve already run a distance event such as a marathon and want to improve your performance, check our these training plans.

Our Improver training plans balance training and miles with rest days and occasional speed work.

If you’ve got some distance running experience and wish to push yourself, this is the training plan for you.

Compete:

Our compete training plans are designed for experienced runners who are looking to perform -whether it’s competing against yourself or other advanced runners. 

Our Compete plans feature the most intense training regimes – there’s a lot of miles in there, different challenging workouts (speed-work), and typically only one rest day per week.  You should only attempt the Compete plan if you’re starting from a solid running base, and can make the time commitment required to follow through.

Customisable, Free Ultramarathon Training Plans

At Marathon Handbook, our aim is to help you to run far.  

With that in mind, all our ultramarathon training plans are completely free and totally customisable.  

Do other commitments mean that you can only train on certain days?  

Need to trim a couple of weeks off the time schedule?

No problem, edit the spreadsheet as you see fit.  

Our training plans come in both Google Sheets and PDF format; feel free to grab a copy of the Google Sheet, edit it, download it to Excel, print it – do whatever you want!

Who Has Designed These Ultramarathon Training Plans?

Hi!

I’m Thomas, a UESCA-certified running coach and ultra-runner. 

I’ve worked with hundred of runners, and developed these training plans through ongoing research, my work with other ultramarathon runners, and personal experience.

I am always reviewing the best ultramarathon training practices and update the plans as required!

50k ULTRAMARATHON TRAINING PLANS

50k Ultra Training Plan – Just Finish

This 50k Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are simply looking to comfortably complete their event.

With 6 months to prepare, we focus on very gradually increasing the weekly mileage at a manageable rate, so you don’t end up burning out.

Ideally you should be able to run 3-5 miles without stopping before you begin this plan, but you can choose to adopt a run/walk strategy too!

Who is it for?:  First-time ultramarathon runners, runners who want to complete an ultra with limited time to train each week, runners who just want to focus on comfortably reaching the finish line.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  If your only objective is to complete your ultramarathon comfortably, and you have six months (or more) to prepare, this is the plan for you!

The plan includes some optional speed work, but this is only if you’re comfortable and can squeeze it in – the objective is to get the required mileage in.   It includes 3 mid-week runs, to be performed at a comfortable pace, and one long-slow run each weekend to build your max mileage.   The plan includes one cross-training day per week and two rest days. 

50k Ultra Training Plan – Improver

This 50k Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are simply looking to comfortably complete their event.

With 6 months to prepare, we focus on very gradually increasing the weekly mileage at a manageable rate, so you don’t end up burning out.

Ideally you should be able to run 3-5 miles without stopping before you begin this plan, but you can choose to adopt a run/walk strategy too!

Who is it for?:  First-time ultramarathon runners, runners who want to complete an ultra with limited time to train each week, runners who just want to focus on comfortably reaching the finish line.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  If your only objective is to complete your ultramarathon comfortably, and you have six months (or more) to prepare, this is the plan for you!

The plan includes some optional speed work, but this is only if you’re comfortable and can squeeze it in – the objective is to get the required mileage in.   It includes 3 mid-week runs, to be performed at a comfortable pace, and one long-slow run each weekend to build your max mileage.   The plan includes one cross-training day per week and two rest days. 

50k Ultra Training Plan – Compete

This 50k Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are simply looking to comfortably complete their event.

With 6 months to prepare, we focus on very gradually increasing the weekly mileage at a manageable rate, so you don’t end up burning out.

Ideally you should be able to run 3-5 miles without stopping before you begin this plan, but you can choose to adopt a run/walk strategy too!

Who is it for?:  First-time ultramarathon runners, runners who want to complete an ultra with limited time to train each week, runners who just want to focus on comfortably reaching the finish line.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  If your only objective is to complete your ultramarathon comfortably, and you have six months (or more) to prepare, this is the plan for you!

The plan includes some optional speed work, but this is only if you’re comfortable and can squeeze it in – the objective is to get the required mileage in.   It includes 3 mid-week runs, to be performed at a comfortable pace, and one long-slow run each weekend to build your max mileage.   The plan includes one cross-training day per week and two rest days. 

50 MILE ULTRAMARATHON TRAINING PLANS

50 Mile Ultra Training Plan – Just Finish

This 50 Mile Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are simply looking to comfortably complete their event.

With 6 months to prepare, we focus on very gradually increasing the weekly mileage at a manageable rate, so you don’t end up burning out.

Ideally you should be able to run 3-5 miles without stopping before you begin this plan, but you can choose to adopt a run/walk strategy too!

Who is it for?:  First-time ultramarathon runners, runners who want to complete an ultra with limited time to train each week, runners who just want to focus on comfortably reaching the finish line.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  If your only objective is to complete your ultramarathon comfortably, and you have six months (or more) to prepare, this is the plan for you!

The plan includes some optional speed work, but this is only if you’re comfortable and can squeeze it in – the objective is to get the required mileage in.   It includes 3 mid-week runs, to be performed at a comfortable pace, and one long-slow run each weekend to build your max mileage.   The plan includes one cross-training day per week and two rest days. 

50 Mile Ultra Training Plan – Improver

This 50 Mile Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are looking to challenge themselves – perhaps to set a new PR, or simply to run their best race.

Designed to be run over 6 months, the plan features one speed day per week, and more mileage than the ‘Just Finish’ plan – so you’ll have a stronger base and better running economy.

Who is it for?: Established runners who want to challenge themselves, and perhaps set a new PR. If you’ve already run a distance event such as a marathon and want to improve your performance, check out these training plans.  

Our Improver training plans balance training and miles with rest days and (optional) speed work; only include the speed work if you want to improve your base running speed.

If you’ve got some distance running experience, and want to push yourself a little, this is the training plan for you.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  

50 Mile Ultra Training Plan – Compete

This Compete 50 Mile Ultramarathon training plan is for experienced runners looking to push themselves!

It features six days of training per week, including two days of speed work, long runs, and recovery runs (which get gradually longer in length).

Who is it for?: Experienced runners who want to set a new PR and perform well competitively.  

If you’re planning to race and gain a good position, this is the plan for you. Our Compete plans feature the most intense training regimes – there’s a lot of miles in there, different challenging workouts (speed-work), and typically only one rest day per week.

You should only attempt the Compete plan if you are starting from a solid running base, and have the time commitment and drive to really challenge yourself.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  

100K ULTRAMARATHON TRAINING PLANS

100k Ultra Training Plan – Just Finish

This 100k Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are simply looking to comfortably complete their event.

With 6 months to prepare, we focus on very gradually increasing the weekly mileage at a manageable rate, so you don’t end up burning out.

Ideally you should be able to run 3-5 miles without stopping before you begin this plan, but you can choose to adopt a run/walk strategy too!

Who is it for?:  First-time ultramarathon runners, runners who want to complete an ultra with limited time to train each week, runners who just want to focus on comfortably reaching the finish line.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  If your only objective is to complete your ultramarathon comfortably, and you have six months (or more) to prepare, this is the plan for you!

The plan includes some optional speed work, but this is only if you’re comfortable and can squeeze it in – the objective is to get the required mileage in.   It includes 3 mid-week runs, to be performed at a comfortable pace, and one long-slow run each weekend to build your max mileage.   The plan includes one cross-training day per week and two rest days. 

100k Ultra Training Plan – Improver

This 100k Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are looking to challenge themselves – perhaps to set a new PR, or simply to run their best race.

Designed to be run over 6 months, the plan features one speed day per week, and more mileage than the ‘Just Finish’ plan – so you’ll have a stronger base and better running economy.

Who is it for?: Established runners who want to challenge themselves, and perhaps set a new PR. If you’ve already run a distance event such as a marathon and want to improve your performance, check out these training plans.  

Our Improver training plans balance training and miles with rest days and (optional) speed work; only include the speed work if you want to improve your base running speed.

If you’ve got some distance running experience, and want to push yourself a little, this is the training plan for you.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  

100k Ultra Training Plan – Compete

This 100k Ultramarathon training plan is for experienced runners looking to push themselves!

It features six days of training per week, including two days of speed work, long runs, and recovery runs (which get gradually longer in length).

Who is it for?: Experienced runners who want to set a new PR and perform well competitively.   If you’re planning to race and gain a good position, this is the plan for you.

Our Compete plans feature the most intense training regimes – there’s a lot of miles in there, different challenging workouts (speed-work), and typically only one rest day per week.

You should only attempt the Compete plan if you are starting from a solid running base, and have the time commitment and drive to really challenge yourself.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  

100 MILE ULTRAMARATHON TRAINING PLANS

100 Mile Ultra Training Plan – Just Finish

This 100k Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are simply looking to comfortably complete their event.

With 6 months to prepare, we focus on very gradually increasing the weekly mileage at a manageable rate, so you don’t end up burning out.

Ideally you should be able to run 3-5 miles without stopping before you begin this plan, but you can choose to adopt a run/walk strategy too!

Who is it for?:  First-time ultramarathon runners, runners who want to complete an ultra with limited time to train each week, runners who just want to focus on comfortably reaching the finish line.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  If your only objective is to complete your ultramarathon comfortably, and you have six months (or more) to prepare, this is the plan for you!

The plan includes some optional speed work, but this is only if you’re comfortable and can squeeze it in – the objective is to get the required mileage in.   It includes 3 mid-week runs, to be performed at a comfortable pace, and one long-slow run each weekend to build your max mileage.   The plan includes one cross-training day per week and two rest days. 

100 Mile Ultra Training Plan – Improver

This 100 Mile Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are looking to challenge themselves – perhaps to set a new PR, or simply to run their best race.

Designed to be run over 6 months, the plan features one speed day per week, and more mileage than the ‘Just Finish’ plan – so you’ll have a stronger base and better running economy.

Who is it for?: Established runners who want to challenge themselves, and perhaps set a new PR.

If you’ve already run a distance event such as a marathon and want to improve your performance, check out these training plans.  

Our Improver training plans balance training and miles with rest days and (optional) speed work; only include the speed work if you want to improve your base running speed.

If you’ve got some distance running experience, and want to push yourself a little, this is the training plan for you.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks. 

100 Mile Ultra Training Plan – Compete

This 100 Mile Ultramarathon training plan is for experienced runners looking to push themselves!

It features six days of training per week, including two days of speed work, long runs, and recovery runs (which get gradually longer in length).

Who is it for?: Experienced runners who want to set a new PR and perform well competitively.  

If you’re planning to race and gain a good position, this is the plan for you.

Our Compete plans feature the most intense training regimes – there’s a lot of miles in there, different challenging workouts (speed-work), and typically only one rest day per week.

You should only attempt the Compete plan if you are starting from a solid running base, and have the time commitment and drive to really challenge yourself.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  

Proven Training Plans by a UESCA-certified Running Coach 

Every one of our training plans has been developed by Thomas Watson, a UESCA-certified running coach.

Thomas is also a podium-finishing ultra-marathon runner, and has dozens of marathons under his belt.

Each training plan has been road-tested by hundred of runners, refined and improved – and are free to download and customise to suit your needs!

Training Plan Elements Explained:

Training Runs

These are standard runs, typically of 3 – 6 miles in length.  They are used to build running form and time-on-your-feet. They should be performed at close-to your target race pace, or at a conversational pace if you have no target speed. 

Long Runs

These are longer distance runs, designed to increase your stamina.   They are purely about building up the length of time you can continue running – don’t worry about your pace, keep it an easy conversational level (more info).

Speed Work / Interval Training

Run workouts designed to increase your speed!  These come in various forms – Yasso’s, intervals, Fartleks, etc.   They are useful if you have a speed-based goal, but if you don’t then no need to focus on them – they can be tiring (more info).

Cross Training

Any form of exercise which does not involve running, and preferably one which is low impact (avoid contact sports).   Good forms of cross training include yoga, swimming, and strength training.