Q&A with ultramarathoner, sophomore Kaitlyn Varghese


STRETCHING OUT: Ultramarathoner and sophomore Kaitlyn Varghese stretches before her run. Varghese said training for these long distances has helped her with valuable life skills such as patience. She added that it was important to gradually build up mileage to avoid injury and leave room for improvement.

Adam Spensley and Satvik Kandru

How did you get into running ultramarathons?

I did my first half-marathon in fifth grade, and after that I got kind of addicted to running half marathons and I just kept progressing, and as I went further distances I learned about people who went even further distances and I thought it was really cool. I met a few people at a marathon that I did and they told me about this 50-mile race they ran and I just thought it was incredible; it was a crazy thing for them to do and I thought one day I could do it.


What motivates you to do this sport and continue in it?

I was on the track team and I wasn’t very good at running those short distances so I thought maybe I’d be good at running longer distances. I’m a lot better at just enduring for a longer amount of time and I find it a lot more relaxing than the quick few minutes of pressure, there’s a lot less pressure; taken off of you and the community is very welcoming for people who do longer distances and I just really enjoy the atmosphere.


How do you train for longer distances?

Over the summer, I do a lot of weekly running on the treadmill, but I’d say where I get the most amount of training done is on the weekends during other small races. I have a ton of half-marathons and marathons over the course of the year almost every weekend that really helps me train for longer distances. Something that really helped me train over the summer for the ultra distance was doing some all-night runs. So they’re 10 hours and 12 hours where you just start at 6 p.m. and you either end it at 4 a.m. or you end it at 6 a.m. and just run the whole night. That’s what really helped me train.


When do you run most of your races?

The last few years I started out by mostly centering around half-marathons and I got really consistent running those every weekend or so, and I’ve done about 44 of them. This year I cut down the amount I was racing a lot, but the distances were a lot longer; so I’d say I do ultras about one to two times every month during the summer, but during this time of year when I’m training for longer ultras I have them maybe once every two months.


Where do ultramartathons take place?

When I started out I did a lot more in Indiana as half-marathons and marathons, but as the distance progresses there are less and less in Indiana so I do travel outside of the state a lot. The most common places I’d say are Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio, I do a lot of races there. I’ve been to a lot of parks to run in which I really enjoy; a lot of ultramarathons are set in state parks because there is a lot more distance you can put into a state park rather than shutting down streets and roads. Once you get to the ultramarathon distance, it’s more trail running.


What have you learned from training for ultramarathons?

One (thing) I learned is to be patient, because when I first started running, I would go out really fast and get burned out really quickly and I had to learn that I needed to be patient and that it takes time to improve and to get better and that you can’t get up and run 30 miles overnight without taking time to practice and you just have to be patient and let things progress.