How to bump up from the marathon or 50K distance
If you have been curious about taking the leap from 26.2 or 31 miles (50K) to 50 miles, figuring out how to train ...
Photo by Keith Facchino
If you have been curious about taking the leap from 26.2 or 31 miles (50K) to 50 miles, figuring out how to train for your first 50-miler may seem daunting.
But don't stress—the primary goal in your first 50-miler should simply be to finish the race. With the proper build up, mental attitude and persistence, it's an achievable goal for most athletes.
To finish your first 50-miler, begin the training process early. "Allow a four- to six-month build-up if you're starting to run again after a layoff," says Scott Drum, Ph.D., Director of the High Altitude Performance Lab in Gunnison, Colorado, "or about three months if you have been training consistently for the previous three months."
Since most 50-mile ultramarathons are on trails and may involve rough terrain, altitude and hill, it's important to select a race that suits your abilities and usual training environment. A flatlander who lives at sea level, for instance, should avoid graduate-level 50-milers like Colorado's high-country San Juan Solstice 50 or Devil's Backbone 50 in Montana's Gallatin Range (two of my faves). (See sidebar for some good first-timer options.)
Turn Up the Volume
Volume is simply how much training you are doing overall, week to week, measured in time or distance. For simplicity's sake, we'll use distance. Since 50 miles in one day may be more than you currently run in a week, it will take more training volume to achieve your goal.