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50K Training Guide

Sport, Stretch, Fitness, Girl, Black

If you have participated in several marathons, you may have begun to contemplate attempting an ultramarathon. The initial length of a race following a marathon is a 50K. Fifty-thousand meters is not the same as a 50-mile race; it is in fact a 50-kilometer event, which is the equivalent of 31.07 miles. That’s 5 miles more than a standard marathon.

Completing an ultramarathon may appear intimidating, but it does not have to be an overwhelming task. Taking into consideration certain aspects is prudent, however, if you have completed a marathon, achieving this goal is achievable. You will soon come to understand that ultrarunning is quite distinct from marathon training.

The most significant distinction will be if you are running a 50K on the road or on a path; the time you spend on your feet will be longer if the route has more elevation or is particularly technical.


A 50K is the first race that is considered an ultramarathon, even though any running event covering a distance greater than a traditional marathon (26.2 miles) can be considered an ultramarathon. It can also be known as ultra-distance.

Most 50K races take place on trails as it is better for the body and it gives trail runners the opportunity to extend their challenge.

Each competition is distinct, and unlike track events, it is difficult to evaluate how one is doing in comparison to other people or even to oneself! One race could involve ascending a total of 2,000 feet, while another race may involve climbing up 10,000 feet with scrambling.

Preparing for your initial 50K race necessitates a comparable amount of effort as a marathon, however typically with less speed drills and more consecutive long run days.

Similar to preparing for a marathon, you don’t need to be able to run the full distance at once and don’t have to.

50k Training Tips

The popularity of ultramarathons is on the rise, making it simpler to locate races and consult with people who have already participated in them for advice. The amount has skyrocketed from 103 events in 1996 to 1,500 in 2016.

Despite the 50K being only a bit more than 5 miles more than a marathon, they are two distinct events, meaning they necessitate different training regimens.

1. More Slow and Steady Miles

The races that take place on trails are different from those that occur on roads because the climate can shift suddenly, the landscape is more complicated, and the rise and fall of the elevation will require you to adjust your running pace.

  • Run by effort, not by pace. (checkout running RPE to understand this better)
  • You’ll find that your 50K pace will tack on several more minutes to your per mile pace.
  • Don’t freak out, this is normal!

Rather than emphasizing speed like most traditional marathon training plans do with tempo runs or track workouts, ultramarathon plans focus more on the amount of time spent running.

The duration of an ultramarathon can range from a minimum of 5 hours to an extensive maximum of over 20 hours, depending on the length of the race. The main focus should be on how to maintain a steady rate for such a long period of time in a sustainable manner.

  • More time running hills, including hill sprints early in training
  • More runs focused on time than distance (you should expect trail runs too take longer to cover a distance than on the road)
  • Working on your mind to enjoy being out there for that extra time
  • Testing great trail shoes to find ones that provide enough cushion for the duration and space for feet to swell a little
  • Practicing navigation skills that keep you from spending too much time searching for trails
  • Learning to power walk up-hills to save energy

When going up a steep incline, the speed you travel at by walking is similar to that of running, but this way you save energy.

2. Back to Back Weekend Long Runs

Most ultrarunners include two consecutive long runs in their preparation program. Instead of having a few weeks full of multiple long runs, it is better to separate the distance in order to reduce the risk of harm.

  • Training your brain and legs to run when tired
  • First run will be the longer of the two runs.
  • Use the first run to focus on downhill technique, hills, or pace, while you’re fresher.
  • The second run is strictly easy miles and could be anywhere from half the miles to equal the distance of run 1.

If you are too occupied to complete your run in one session, split up the distance into smaller sections. You could divide your 20-mile run into two segments, running 12 miles in the morning and 8 in the evening.

It may seem intimidating to engage in consecutive long runs, yet you will be amazed at what your body can do. Here’s how to make the most of back-to-back runs:

3. Course Specific Training

If you have ever examined the elevation profile of a trail race, it may appear intimidating. Some make you feel as if you are about to take on a mountain. Everest.

It’s important to remember that trail running involves much more climbing than running on the pavement, although they can be intimidating at times.

  • Study the map and learn the grade and length of the hills.
  • Take note of the total elevation gain and model your training for those specific statistics.
  • Practice similar grades and lengths to build your stamina and practice power hiking.

If you live in a region that is not too hilly (or even if it is), try out this 3-minute “mountain legs” exercise recommended by ultra running coach David Roche. He recommends doing it three to four times a week following runs.

4. Strength Training for Ultrarunning

Completing a 50K race requires a considerable amount of time spent running. You must keep your muscles in good shape when you become tired, or else you will be at risk for various running-related injuries. Which means, no training and no race.

Concentrate on creating a robust center, developing glute power, and exercises for hip stabilization. Here are a few strength routines to get you started:

5. Recovery is Key for Ultrarunners

The more you work out and put strain on your muscles, the more time it will take for them to recover. We refrain from asking you to carry out lengthy runs of more than 30 miles until you have begun training for hundred mile races.

Think of recovery has part of training. This has multiple parts: nourishing food, kneading, bathing in Epsom salts, a good amount of restful sleep, and both physical and mental leisure.

And recovery is especially crucial for ultrarunners. The harm inflicted to muscles throughout an ultramarathon is greater than that caused during a marathon or shorter competition.

If you are running a race on a trail, your muscles will be extremely fatigued, especially since you likely have been practicing on trails which take more effort to traverse the uneven terrain.

It’s important not to rush the process of getting your body into shape, so don’t push yourself too hard when you’re preparing for a 50K race.

6. Tackling The Trails

A lot of individuals who have completed 50 kilometer runs and are new to ultra running are shifting from city marathons to trail ultras, and that is something you must do gradually.

It is a misstep for those who run in cities to believe that the same tactics they use on the streets and sidewalks can be applied when running on dirt paths.

Trails vary.

Sometimes you have to climb, sometimes you’re headed downhill.

At times you can hurry, but other times you need to be careful where you step.

When preparing for a long-distance off-road race, aim to complete at least half of your training on trails.

This will help you adjust your technique and tempo, with the caveat that your pace will be slower on trails, particularly at first.

You should become accustomed to slowing down when you’re going uphill (even walking if needed) and figuring out how to manage your speed on the way down.

Be at ease with repeatedly examining the terrain 15-20 feet ahead of you as you run, while at the same time determining where to step. Depending on the intensity of your race, you may want to think about using hiking poles; however, you must also learn how to use them while running, which is a skill unto itself.

And most of all, learn to enjoy the trails! It is an amazing location to get some physical activity and spend time in the outdoors. When jogging on trails, you shouldn’t be too fixed on having a specific speed in mind.

7. Embrace RPE As Your MPM (Most Important Metric)

RPE stands for Rate of Perceived Exertion, and it’s essentially a self-defined measure of how hard you’re pushing yourself : 1 being extremely light activity, 10 being all-out sprint; check out the chart below.

RPE is comparable to speed or rate of heartbeats, however, it is particularly advantageous when taking part in ultra-races. When you attempt to apply typical sports measurements to ultra-running, the situation quickly becomes complicated.

For instance, maybe you have a specific speed you are attempting to maintain. It is alright to keep up a quick stride in an urban marathon, however, when you run trails, you’ll have to exert more effort on the difficult terrain to stay at the same speed, and slow down on easy hills because you’re running too quickly.

If your legs become too tense after running 42 kilometers, like due to lactic acid build-up, it is not beneficial to try to keep going through the discomfort just to maintain a certain speed.

Regarding Heart Rate Zone training, it can be effective up to a certain degree. Following periods of strenuous activity, runners observe heart rate drift, which is when the heart decreases the amount of blood with each beat, prompting it to beat faster in order to make up for it. In other words, the boundaries that HRZ training was originally based on are no longer applicable.

We suggest that you become familiar with and practice using RPE.

RPE may initially appear to be somewhat subjective – or, to be daring, holistic – as it is mainly about paying attention to your physical sensations. But that’s pretty much the point.

If you believe you are straining your body excessively, then it is likely that you are straining it excessively. It’s not complicated – sometimes we should take our focus away from the data that our GPS watch gives us, and pay more attention to our physical body.

8. The Ultra Mindset: Become An Endurance Monster

Ultrarunners usually have a different way of thinking than those who race at shorter distances.

The main focus of their strategy is on lasting the full distance and persisting, which are both very essential in ultrarunning, especially when it comes to running 50 kilometers.

9. Ultramarathons Are An Eating Competition

It is often said that the main focus of ultramarathoners is on food and drink, and this is accurate. One of the most frequent problems that beginning runners have in ultras is inadequate nourishment or hydration.

If your fuel, salts, or fluids levels are incorrect, it can lead to swift and negative consequences. Some key points to bear in mind:

Practice, practice, practice. Prior to the beginning of your 50k race, you should be sure to make a plan for your meals and snacks. Be sure to know what you will be consuming, the amount of it, and when you will be consuming it.

This is due to the fact that you have rehearsed all of this during preparation. Experiment with different kinds of fuel, experiment with different amounts and frequencies – try it all!

Mix it up. Don’t get all your in-race carbs from one source.

Research your race. Determine what is available at support stations, and include it into your nutrition plan – if it is suitable. You don’t want to find yourself eating a banana at kilometer 40 of an ultramarathon, only to find out that your stomach can’t tolerate them!

Gels are great, although they may be hard to swallow. Gels are generally a good option for runners, though after a long duration of running they can become a bit dull and can cause some stomach unease. Steer clear of stomach issues during your jog by trying out different types of gels and combining them with other snacks such as nut butter, trail mix, and other munchies!

10. Get A GPS Watch That Goes The Distance

Monitoring your individual runs and viewing the entirety of your workout development is an essential component of ultramarathon preparation.

Using a platform such as Strava to record your workouts makes it easy to go back and review your progress, as well as receive support and recognition from other runners.

In order to accomplish all of this, you will need a dependable GPS watch that has a long-lasting battery which can handle long distances. So your regular Apple Watch probably won’t cut it.

11. Stick To The Plan

The most effective way to be prepared for an ultra-marathon is to stick to a well-structured training regimen. Benefits of a good training plan include:

  •  gradual, planned weekly mileage increases that are manageable and avoid overtraining
  • a balanced training week of intense workouts, recovery time, easier runs, and cross-training
  • provides structure and guidance to your training week
  • it’s been proven that simply following a training plan increases your probability of training properly, and completing your running event.

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