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Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  2,083 ratings  ·  133 reviews
Marathons have become too easy for some runners. What was once the pinnacle of achievement in a runner’s life is now a stepping stone for extraordinary adventure in ultramarathoning. The number of ultrarunners—those running distances of 50k (31miles), 50 miles, 100k (62 miles), or 100 miles—is growing astronomically each year.

Dean Karnazes’ Ultramarathon Man and Chris McDo
Paperback, 208 pages
Published May 3rd 2011 by Breakaway Books (first published April 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book with a highlighter pen. You might be wondering why someone who has experience running ultras already is doing reading this book, but I've been learning that you never quit learning to run and I learned from the book. I really enjoyed it.

The book starts out talking about the ultramarathon, what it is and why you should run one and when is a good time to attempt one. The book goes on to talk about training pace, what your weekly mileage should before attempt to train for an ultra,
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
After struggling to pick a fall event, I somehow came across this book & figured it'd be worth a read to see more about ultras, as a 30K or 50 miler is one of the things I'm considering. After reading it, I want to do one more than before I started.

Since I've done a lot of trail running, there weren't a whole lot of super surprising things in the book, but one thing especially jumped out at me - back to back bonk runs. The idea is to do 30-40 miles on Saturday, taking in fluids & electrolytes, b
Apr 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is jam packed with useful tips and techniques for ultra running. I can't think of a topic that is not covered in this book.
I am training for my first 100 miler, so the book was released at the perfect time for me.
It contains training plans for races from 50K to 100 miles.
My only wish was that I had read this before my 50 miler, the knowledge gained from this book would have helped me greatly.
Awesome book Byron. Thanks for sharing your running wisdom with us.
Nov 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Don't bother with this. iRunFar is an excellent website and blog, but this book is merely neatly organized internet research. Instead, read some Matt Fitzgerald and Bernd Heinrich. Read other exhaustive, aging and poorly organized ultrarunning websites. Perhaps throw in a biography or two for good measure.

Oh, and volunteer at races.
Jan 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
A decent introduction to ultra running if you've only run shorter distances. Much of it is anecdotal. Almost all of the content was stuff that I figured out on my own over a couple of years of running longer distances or through conversations with other runners, but it is pretty complete if you're starting from scratch. ...more
Michelle Lines
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book is probably good for beginner runners. I wouldn't recommend this for anyone with a solid marathoning background or familiarity with running on trails. A lot of the information seemed more like common knowledge that an experienced runner would already have. ...more
Dec 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Relentless Forward Progress A Guide to Running Ultramarathons by Bryon Powell

I read this book with a highlighter pen. You might be wondering why someone who has experience running ultras already is doing reading this book, but I've been learning that you never quit learning to run and I learned from the book. I really enjoyed it.

The book starts out talking about the ultramarathon, what it is and why you should run one and when is a good time to attempt one. The book goes on to talk about trainin
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"Not an ultrarunner yet, but..."

I am 39-years-old and until two years ago I never really liked running. Then I got into triathlons and since running was my weakest of the three sports I started focusing on it. Then I started liking it, then loving it, and now I run six days a week and a total of 45-50 miles. I am currently training for a marathon and when looking at what to do next I started to seriously look at ultrarunning. Some people think I am crazy, but I have been called that before, so I
Brent Eritou
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Awesome good for anyone training for their first ultramarathon. Page after page, it becomes apparent that this book is a labor of love and not some Rodale Press revenue generating machine. It is full of insights & advice based on real-world experience putting on foot in front of the other for miles & miles. There is no fluff in this book. Not a single word wasted. This book is a diamond in the rough. I don't understand why it isn't more popular. ...more
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: running
Awesome inspirational book on ultra running. Powell uses his own experience and previously published articles to talk about what is is really like to run an Ultra. This will be a go to reference as I train for my first ultra. Perhaps I will run in 2013, more likely 2014. Well written and well referenced.
Herman Kaljo
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing for anyone exploring to push their limits. Features simple and effective training plans.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Must-Read for Runners Getting into Ultras

I thought there was something quirky and unique about “Relentless Forward Progress.” The entire book is split up into short, digestible sections on every conceivable topic related to ultrarunning. Some sections have guest writers who are established ultra runners. If you love reading about running and/or are intrigued by ultras, then you are going to devour this book. Before buying “Relentless” I checked out some of the reviews. Most were overwhelmingly p
Nov 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who has completed a dozen or so half marathons and two marathons, I was hoping this book would provide some good tips on transitioning to ultramarathons.

While there are some interesting sections in the book, overall I felt like this is probably a good introduction for someone completely new to running as opposed to a runner transitioning to ultramarathons. A lot of the information in the book was pretty basic to me.

To be fair, I already belong to several ultrarunning Facebook groups
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really good, comprehensive overview of the many facets of ultra-running. I wish I had read this before my first ultra last year, I would have been way less anxious about it! Crazy how a sport that seems so unapproachable when broken down into logical components, is super attainable and FUN. My only critique of this book is that gender descriptions are strictly his/her and while probably wasn't intentional, excludes non-binary folk. Also, adding a section about menstrual cups and other ways to de ...more
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nice summary of not just ultrarunning, but trail running in general. I loved the Forward and have asked my husband to read it so he can understand why maybe running far isn't crazy.

At one point, the author wrote a couple of pages about general information for crew, and then mentioned he gives his own crew an 8-page document of instructions. As someone with zero ultra experience, it's those 8 pages that would have been really interesting to read. Still, I took plenty of notes, especially in the f
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is a pretty broad overview of ultrarunning. It defines the sport, it outlines all the basics from gear to injuries that come from greater distances. I liked all of the essays sprinkled throughout the book from various ultrarunners. I don't know that I learned a great deal from this book, since I've been around ultras for a long time now, but I did find it an enjoyable and thorough read. ...more
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
On the one had, I’m disappointed that I didn’t read this before my ultramarathon last year. It provides a ton of good information about preparing for and running ultras. At the same time, ignorance is bliss. I think if I had read this, I wouldn’t have taken the plunge. But that is just me, I handle stress better as it comes rather than worrying about it beforehand. Not that I wasn’t prepared but rather, this book prepares you for all the worst case scenarios and I just didn’t need that.
Informative and inspiring.
Picked this up in a second hand bookshop and though I’m not training for an Ultra, I do have a Marathon on the horizon next year, and much of the advice applies.
It was published in this edition in 2011 so is pre Strava, but obviously most of the content is timeless and doesn’t date. I loved the specificity of the advice on nutrition, training miles, rest and recovery, and the section on barefoot running at the end.
Very useful.
Bree Taylor
Mar 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
My husband has checked this book out so many times I thought we owned it.

Having finished my first ultra in June 2019 and in training for my second in June 2021, I was curious about the training aspects from a "guide" standpoint.

Sooooo much good information and a wonderful chart for checking hydration.

Definitely a must read for anyone planning to complete or compete in their first (or tenth) ultra.
Marika Chunyk
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: running-books
A couple ultrarunners recomended this book. Finished this in time to start my training for a 50 miler. This book gives a lot of information on gear, nutrition and provides training plans to start training for your first ultramarathon. Im glad there are books out there to help guide us with crazy goals like this.
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book for ultra runners - read once from cover to cover to get all the good info and then keep it handy for reference. Great training plans included for 50k to 100mi distances, with advice for running all sorts of other types of races.
Andy Parkes
Apr 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-reading
Very good!

If the thought of getting into Ultra running has ever crossed your mind this is a great place to start
Lots of practical advice without being overwhelming as there is a lot to consider
Nikole Michelle
Apr 12, 2021 rated it liked it
This books discusses a wide variety of useful topics in ultrarunning. For someone who has experience with long-distance running, a lot of the info is basic. Also, the book hardly even mentions the benefits of strength training with improving running economy and preventing injuries.
Annette Towler
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great introduction to the ultra distance. The book has excellent advice and also some terrific training plans that are very manageable. I built a good base using one of the plans.
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Got me to the finish line of my first 50k.
Jennifer Martin
May 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Got me to and across start finish line of my ultras raging from 42-100 miles
Trung Nguyen Dang
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fast and easy read that covers all the basic aspects of ultra-marathons. I finished in a day.
Kimberly Prytherch
Jan 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
definitely geared towards more experienced runners
Kathy Vidlock
Jan 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book has a lot of advice for training for ultramarathoners. I like the different training plans and the expert advice. There were tips I wish I had known before my first ultramarathon.
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I truly enjoyed this book, as I'm considering expanding my running to ultra distances. Much useful information. ...more
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47 likes · 13 comments
“You’re tougher than you think you are, and you can do more than you think you can.” 2 likes
“Ultramarathons are a personal journey, but sharing that journey with others enhances it.” 2 likes
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