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Any ultrarunners here?
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Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Any ultrarunners here? on 07/06/2010 23:48:01 MDT Print View

I'm gearing up for a few 50K races (Aug. 22 and Sept. 18th) in preparation for a hard 50 mile race (10,000 foot gain, October 23rd) and have some training questions...Anyone here run 50 milers or greater?


Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Any ultrarunners here?" on 07/07/2010 05:48:05 MDT Print View

Hey Craig, best of luck in training and your upcoming ultras. I too am running a 50 miler on Oct. 23rd on the CDT near Cuba, NM, may our training be plentiful and injury free. I believe Art Messier is a frequent BPL forum user who has raced a few 50 mile+ races, you might try to PM him with your inquiries. Cheers.

Ed Tyanich
(runsmtns) - F - M
Ultras on 07/07/2010 08:01:03 MDT Print View


I have been running ultras for around 20 years now. Lots of 100k's, quite a few 50k's and 50 milers and a couple DNF's at 100 miles.

I'd be glad to try to answer any questions you might have.

Be careful, the sport can become addicting :)


Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Any ultrarunners here? on 07/07/2010 09:28:15 MDT Print View

Ask away,
although I probably don't know any more than you, I'm glad to discuss it, one fool to another :-)

I've done several 50s, one 100 miler, currently training for Wasatch.

Edited by asandh on 07/07/2010 09:29:45 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Any ultrarunners here? on 07/07/2010 09:49:36 MDT Print View

Cool, thanks guys.

OK, I've run marathons and 50K and I'm comfortable training for them, but October will be my first attempt at 50 miles. I guess my initial questions are as follows:

1. As I'm approaching greater training distances, should I be more concerned with time on my feet than mileage? I.E., getting in 9 hour runs as opposed to set mileage? I realize there should be some equivalent in there somewhere, but I notice some coaches stress time over miles. Just a detail I wanted some opinions on.

2. It seems many are focused on back to back runs as opposed to single long runs...I.E. working up to doing 26 on Sat. and 14 on Sunday as opposed to one longer weekend run. What are your thoughts on this? Better for recovery, yet still building?

I'll leave it at that for now...
I'd love to keep an open conversation going here if you all are up for it- I have no running partners in my area.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: Re: Any ultrarunners here? on 07/07/2010 10:08:15 MDT Print View

1. I think time on your feet is more important than mileage. The long run is very important prep, both physically and mentally. If you are already doing 9 hour runs you are fine. You don't need a super long run every weekend for a 50 miler. Every other weekend is fine, you want quality, not just quantity, and you want to recover, listen to your body.

2. You don't need back to back runs to be able to run a 50 miler. In fact, I never even did back to back long runs for my 100 miler. I just did a 25-30 miler every weekend, with two 50 mile races the 3 months leading up to it. The key is a quality long run, and good recovery for the next quality long run. Do your long runs with a race face, no dilly dallying or super long breaks etc.

3. you mentioned a race with 10,000 ft elevation gain. I think its important to try and train on the course if possible. this helps you understand your body in relation to the pace you must maintain on the course to meet your goal. If that's not possible, study the course and try to train on similar terrain. A high elevation gain course will have a different tempo than a low elevation gain course.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
More on Ultra Training on 07/07/2010 10:23:21 MDT Print View

4. you probably already know this, but the longer the ultra, the more walking you will do. get your speed walking down. don't just cruise when you walk.

5. Overall pace is important. Don't start too fast. An even pace will give you a better overall time. In a 50 miler I tend to do the first half about 30 minutes faster than the second half. But the first two 50's I entered I blew it by running the first 25 way too fast.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: More on Ultra Training on 07/07/2010 10:30:42 MDT Print View

Thanks Art.

What were your longest runs in training to prepare for 50 miles?

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: More on Ultra Training on 07/07/2010 10:39:06 MDT Print View

longest runs for 50 miler:
probably 29 miles, and just a couple of those, mostly 20-25 milers.
If you are running a couple 50ks leading up to your 50 miler, you'll do fine.

I'm not fast at all.
for the terrain I was training on 29 miles was about a 7 hour run.

My peak mileage weeks leading up to my first couple 50's was about 55-57 miles, this was about 12+ hours running a week. I felt this was minimally adequate.

But really try and train on similar terrain to the race course if at all possible. this makes a difference.

remember to taper leading up to your race. how much to taper is a function of your overall condition and how important the race is for you.
if you treat the 50k's as training runs for the 50 miler then only a short taper for them. then maybe a gradual 2 week taper for the 50 miler. Definitely at least 2 weeks between your last long run and the 50 miler.

Edited by asandh on 07/07/2010 10:55:46 MDT.

Colin Matthews
(litebrite) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Time>Distance on 07/07/2010 18:37:04 MDT Print View

I've done a bunch of ultras; 50 miles will be a great experience, it's a whole other world when you start going to and beyond that distance.
You've received some sound advice so far. The other thing I would suggest is really dialing in your nutrition plan. Fueling is fairly important in marathons and 50k's, but when you get into 50-milers, 100-k's, and 100-milers, it is absolute life-and-death.
Figure out a bunch of calorically-dense foods that work for you, and consume them in training.
As far as the old miles-versus-time debate, I would lean towards measuring your training in duration. It's a more reliable way to train on varied terrain, especially once you start tackling hilly terrain. (ie you might only make it 20 kilometres on a technical trail in 2 hours compared to 24 kilometres on a fire road in the same time, but the training value is probably pretty equal.
Good luck, and feel free to PM me with any questions! I'm getting ready for the Canadian Death Race at the end of the month.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: More on Ultra Training on 07/07/2010 22:52:33 MDT Print View

I'm running at about your speed Art. My last trail 50K was ~7:20...Plenty of climbing and technical stuff, but no, not fast by racing standards. But I don't do it for anyone else so it's all good.

Not doubting you, it just trips me out that so many people run 50 miles off of ~50K in training. To be honest, I'm scared! 50 miles is 20 miles further than a 50K....Last marathon I ran I wasn't exactly feeling like I wanted to run another one IMMEDIATELY!

But that's what training is for...kill the fear, physically prepare, get psyched.

Colin, your analogy about time vs. distance makes sense, thanks. Yeah, I'll be watching what I eat and drink pretty closely, during runs and rest. One of my big concerns is recovering well...

Thanks guys.

Ed Tyanich
(runsmtns) - F - M
Ultras on 07/07/2010 23:22:22 MDT Print View

Very good advise. Don't get caught up in too much milage. So many time ultra runners end up with lots of "junk" miles just to keep the weekly milage high. I speak from experience :)

There are many top ultra runners like Karl Meltzer that are running 60-75 miles a week and setting course records at 100 mile races.

Concentrate on quality more than quantity.


David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: ultra training on 07/07/2010 23:30:33 MDT Print View

I've ran and hiked a few ultras. I switched to hiking exclusively two years ago when I just couldn't keep my IT band issues under control. Running kills them, hiking doesn't.

I've done a 100k (Coyote 2 Moons, 18k of up) and a 50 miler (Devils Backbone, 11k of up at altitude) 100% hiking, and finished dead mid-pack in both (19 and 14 hours, respectively). So my advice is based on that.

+1 for nutrition planning. DO NOT run a deficit with hydration or food. You can pull out of a bonk, but best not to go there. Sort out nausea issues in training. This might be the best reason to do as long a long run as you can manage, something that you can eat fine for 7 hours might get you heavin' at hour 10.

+1 for specificity. C2M had several big, steep, loose, and hot descents and ascents. I trained in the Grand Canyon, and was able to rock the final climb because of it. This is especially relevant as far as descending goes.

Make an iron-clad promise to yourself that you will finish unless X,Y, or Z happen (injury, etc), then stick to it. Make the mental part non-negotiable so you won't waste energy thinking about quitting when you're suffering like a dog at mile 35.

Making it a goal to run a negative split cane help you from going out too fast.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: More on Ultra Training on 07/09/2010 10:33:46 MDT Print View

"it just trips me out that so many people run 50 miles off of ~50K in training. To be honest, I'm scared! 50 miles is 20 miles further than a 50K...."

Like others said, its all about Quality mileage, not overall mileage, in training.

If you can run a 50k you can run a 50 miler. The key is pace. Run the first half slow. I was nervous for my first 50 miler because experienced runners warned the second half was twice as hard as the first. It wasn't. I hit a sort of low point between 25-35 mi. but then got a second wind at 40 miles and had lots of energy left at the end.
Just run it to finish below the cutoff and you'll make it.
The key is adequate (and constant) nutrition and electrolyte intake. I put something in my mouth every 30 minutes during the run.
I prefer liquid fuels for a 50 mi. (gels and perpetuem) but that's personal choice.