This is the plan I used to train for my first 50 mile race.
Let’s start with this. You won’t win any races using this training plan and if you’ve run a 50 mile race before, chances are you already have a decent plan that you’ve used before. However if this is your first time training for a 50 mile race, this plan will put you in a position to finish.
The basis for this training plan was a mixture of extrapolating prior 50k training plans I’ve made for myself, training plans I’ve found on the internet, and the working backwards from race day to fit my schedule. Even though it was my first 50 mile race, it was not my first race of the season (this was my 6th event of the year), not my first ultra race (I have ran several 50k’s before this race) , and not even my first ultra race of the season (I have run one other 50k this year before this race), so I entered the training plan with a fairly decent base. If I were starting from scratch (or the couch) the plan likely would be extended, possibly even double the amount of weeks in order to get my base to a 10-16 mile run.
The training plan is based on total miles run (as opposed to time based) and my main goal was just to finish in the allotted time. There wasn’t a lot of elevation gain, only approximately 5,500 feet of vert) in the race I was targeting (Mt Hood 50). The goals and assumptions of this training plan were:
- Long runs can be slow, but don’t break them up into two shorter runs.
- It’s ok to walk/hike long runs as necessary. It’s even ok to stop for a short break, but not for hours on end.
- Vary elevation gain for runs on consecutive days.
- Run on trails when possible. Try to hit at least a portion of a trail on every run.
- It’s ok to substitute cross training (soccer) for runs.
- Alternate between hard weeks (higher mileage) and easy weeks (lower mileage).
- Stay healthy. It’s ok to skip or shuffle training runs around each week. After all it is just a plan.
- Back to back weekend long runs are a staple to this plan.
- One weekday slightly shorter long run is a staple to this plan.
- Planned rest days are the days immediately following back to backs (Mondays and Fridays).
- Incorporate a few races as glorified training runs into the training plan for race day practice.
For the most part I hit all my weekly mileage goals, sometimes exceeding and sometimes falling short but never more or less off than 10% of the plan. I followed all of my goals and assumptions of the plan, but included far more vert in my runs than is probably needed for the target race. This, however, worked out just fine for me in that I ended up walking a decent amount during the race. Also none of the hills I encountered ever seemed too steep or too long compared the ones I tackled during training.
A few last things: Just to be clear, you aren’t going to win any race with this training plan. Remember a plan is just a plan and it should be broke, bent, altered, chopped and revised as required to avoid injury, fit around your life schedule, and most importantly to have fun.