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Ultra Running by Lisa Geybels

My name is Lisa, I am a 22-year-old trail runner based in Antwerp, Belgium. At the age of 21, I already finished three marathons, one with a 2nd place in my category.

As many people saw my accomplishments, they started asking me for tips on how to improve their running. That made me start thinking if maybe it would be possible to be a running coach. When COVID-19 took over the world, I took the leap and founded Lis(t)a Coaching. Now, 9 months later, there are 35 Lis(t)a athletes and 15 that have already accomplished their goal.

Personally, I am making the switch from marathon running to ultra-marathon trail running. And in this blog, I would like to introduce you to this very special world.


Every distance above 42.195K is considered an ultra. You have ultra’s of 45 K but it can go as crazy as 250K or even more. I hear you thinking, it is impossible to run this whole distance, and when it comes to trail running, there is indeed some hiking included as well. However, most of the hiking is done when you have to go uphill to save your energy and because some parts are simply too steep to run.

But what about training for those distances? Let's dive into that.


Training for a marathon already puts a lot of stress onto your body, so imagine the amount the comes with an ultra. Therefore, it is key to have a proper training plan and to start at least 6-8 months in advance (depending on your fitness level, experience and race distance).

A similarity between training for a marathon and an ultra is the steady increase in your overall volume (amount of kilometres you run each week). This increase should be between 5% and 10% max of the total volume of your past week.

Whilst training for a marathon, you normally have some intervals each week included to increase your speed. Although this is also important for ultra’s, hill intervals should be given more attention. Your body needs to adapt to running uphill and strengthen those particular muscles that are used then (glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps).

Furthermore, you should try to run as often as possible on terrain that is similar to where your race will be held. If your race will be mostly in the woods, then train in woods. If there will be a lot of sand throughout the course, then train in sand etc.


‘Fitness is 20% exercise and 80% nutrition, because you can’t outrun your fork’ and with this I strongly agree. Having a good nutrition plan (and also sticking to it) is very important. You should have one for during your runs, but also a general one.

When you will be running a one-time maximum of 3h in your marathon preparation, this will be the average for your long runs when training for an ultra. Your body needs to get used to long training, but without proper fuel, this will be impossible. There are a lot of rules out there, as to what you should eat and how much, but the best advice is to try out A LOT and see what works best for you. You will notice that in the beginning bars will not be a problem, however, after 5 bars (which you will need) you are most likely to start experiencing some GI distress (gastrointestinal distress such as stomach ache, feeling nauseous, diarrhoea, vomiting …). Switching to more savoury (& salty) foods when this occurs is the best way to still get in those kcals to keep moving.

Once you have survived another long run or training, you will need to replenish your body with much-needed building blocks. The first thing to do is drink a protein shake, to ensure adequate protein refill. After another hour or two, depending on how your stomach feels, you should try to get in a proper meal with the focus on refuelling with carbohydrates and another portion of protein. Try to eat the rainbow every time, since every colour has its own specific benefits and this way you will be sure you get in enough vitamins and minerals too.

I hope you find this article interesting and that is has given you some insights into the wonderful world of (ultra) trail running.

If you would like more information or would like to enquire about coaching then please visit my blog or website. Links are below!


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