Training principles and issues for ultra-endurance athletes

Curr Sports Med Rep. 2005 Jun;4(3):165-70. doi: 10.1097/01.csmr.0000306201.49315.73.


Ultra-endurance competition is defined as events that exceed than 6 hours in duration. The longer events rely on long-term preparation, sufficient nutrition, accommodation of environmental stressors, and psychologic toughness. Successful ultra-endurance performance is characterized by the ability to sustain a higher absolute speed for a given distance than other competitors. This can be achieved through a periodized training plan and by following key principles of training. Periodization is an organization of training into large, medium and small training blocks which are referred to as macro-, meso-, and microcycles, respectively. When the sequencing of training is correctly applied, athletes can achieve a high state of competition readiness and during the months of hard training, avoid the overtraining syndrome. A plan is executed in accordance with the following principles of training: all-around development, overload, specificity, individualization, consistent training, and structural tolerance. Training relies heavily on the athlete's tolerance to repetitive strain. Today's ultra-endurance athlete must also follow appropriate nutritional practices in order to recover and prepare for daily training and remain injury free and healthy. Rehydration after exercise, together with the timing and method of increased food intake to cope with heavy training, are essential for optimal performance. Furthermore, the treatment of soft tissue after training or racing is necessary to control inflammation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / prevention & control
  • Drinking / physiology
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Humans
  • Periodicity
  • Physical Education and Training / methods*
  • Physical Endurance* / physiology
  • Sports / education*
  • Sports / physiology