The Ultimate Beginners Guide To Training For Your First Endurance Event

With Endurance events happening pretty much every weekend all over the country there is certainly no shortage of race options to choose from.

I’m talking about the crazy individuals that push their bodies to the limits either on road, on the trail, through rivers and also the ever-increasing popular multisport races like the coast to coast.

endurance event training

Why I love trail running

Trail running is my sport of choice. There is something about getting away from the busyness of life and escaping to the hills every weekend that is really appealing. Sometimes it’s hot, cold, dark, wet and you are almost guaranteed at some point during a run to question why you decided to put yourself through the extreme.

It is at this point that I remind myself about the massive buzz that is achieved when you cross the finish line after a long day of trail running over mountains, through the forest, over boulders and wading through waist-deep rivers. That is my motivation!

I’m Certain no elite ultra runner but more so one of these guys that have developed a passion for seeing how far I can push myself.

When it comes to training I know what works for me and also what has been an epic fail in the past.

Are you currently thinking about entering a full marathon or even an Ultra trail running event? Here are my 4 tips to help get you started.

Find a Race:

There are a number of websites you can look at that have full calendars of local events. It is a case of searching the internet and reading the race details to find something that suits you. Other ways are things like joining a run club or asking around at the gym where you can generally find and speak to people that have done similar races before.

There are a few things to consider when choosing your race.

  • Are you able to get fit enough to complete the race safely?
  • Do you have sufficient skills to complete the race safely if for example there are technical challenges such as rough terrain, running in the dark, and mountain navigation if this is necessary?
  • Spend some time thinking about what you will need to do to prepare. This includes lifestyle and time sacrifices, increased fitness, goal fulfilment, and any compromises needing to be put in place.

Define your goals:

Once you have found the perfect race or races and have set the dates it is important to consider what you want to achieve. Will you be aiming to win or place in the race, finish in a good position or just finish the race as a personal challenge? Make this realistic by thinking about your current level of fitness, and whether you have sufficient time to build the skills and fitness necessary. I personally like to plan at least 3 months out from a big goal.

Plan the details:

An important step is to find out and study the details of your race. How much is the elevation gain the course has, what is the underfoot surface like, what is the distance between aid stations etc. are some of the details you should look into. When you chose your race, you will have found out a lot of this from the race website and there are often videos of past events on youtube.

Make a list of important factors, including an estimate of your current fitness level and what you need and where you need to be to meet your goals. Here are some things to consider:

  • What current skills do you have and what skills do you need to develop?
  • Do you have any shortfalls such as being able to run uphill for maybe more than an hour?
  • Are you familiar at running on trails and rocky terrain, up a hill, on the flat and step down hills?

Plan your endurance event training:

Now that you have a list of things to work on, you can start to plan your training. If you don’t have much experience training or planning for this type of event you might want to get some help from an experienced coach/trainer. Whatever you decide its always a good idea to discuss your plans with someone to reinforce the commitment and share in the experience. Sharing your plans will significantly increase your chances of success and help you to stay motivated with training leading up to the race. A good coach or trainer should be adding the following into a training program:

  • Strength training at least once/week. A solid strength program is vitally important particularly in trail running to minimise the risk of injury, help rectify any imbalances and speed up body recovery post runs. Many runners underestimate the importance of strength work and focus more on the running distance which can result in weaknesses and injuries.
  • Be specific on your training runs. If your race includes mountain terrain and river crossings then try to train on a surface that is as close as possible to the race day terrain.
  • Weekly run training plan. It is important to develop a run plan as a guide to follow but also listen to your body to ensure you don’t overtrain. They say it is better to be 10% undertrained for a race than 20% overtrained. My weekly runs usually include 1-2 long runs on the weekend, 1 medium distance at a higher pace midweek along with at least one interval session. This is what works for me and what I can fit into my lifestyle. Working alongside a coach/trainer, they can help you to develop a realistic and achievable plan that suits you as an individual.
  • Nutrition and hydration. These days there are so many products to chose from. It is important to figure out what works for you during training and under no circumstances change to something new on race day. Keep it simple and let your body tell you what works and what does not. I personally use a mixture of Pure brand sports gels and electrolyte powder along with the popular cliff sports bars as fuel on most of my runs.

Once you have done all of this, look over your training plan to make sure it is something you can achieve and that the sacrifices and training are acceptable to your life. If there is a problem, go back and rethink the plan. It is better to get things right at the outset then find something wrong later that might mean you don’t reach your potential.

Go and smash your Goals!


Article by Aaron Shaskey

Hi, I’m Arron, I have always been passionate about helping people and seeing them succeed. I have a double diploma in Fitness Business. As a personal Trainer I am here to help you achieve that specific goal you are chasing, by breaking down the barriers that have held you back in the past, creating tailored programs that are safe, functional, science-based, and ensuring it is easy for you to stick to for a lifetime. I ensure every single session is fun, motivating, encouraging, & has that important WOW factor. Learn more

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