50+ Tips for Your First 50 Miler

We've got some of the smartest readers around. So we asked them - what advice would you give someone running their first 50 miler?

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Who better to crowd-source ultrarunning tips from than the Trail Runner community? When we asked our Facebook and Twitter followers to share advice for first-time 50-milers, we were inundated with fabulous ideas!

We thank you all for sharing your tips. Here, we’ve compiled a selection of them into eight key categories:

General Tips

  • Eat before you’re hungry and walk before you’re tired. –Len Thompson
  • You can do anything for half a day. If it hurts to walk and [and it also hurts to] run, run. –Martha Schoppe
  • Be patient. Be patient. Be patient. It’s fun when over 1/2 the people leave you at the start then slowly you pick them off. I like around 200 calories per hour. And have fun. Don’t overthink things. Enjoy your time in the woods. –Lanier Greenhaw
  • Start slow, comfy shoes, 300 cals per hour, drink to thirst, enjoy the journey, don’t quit even when brain gives good excuses. –David Hill @dogsrundenver
  • 1. Stick to the plan. 2. Start slow. 3. Garmin alerts for food. 4. Drink. –Brad Barber @bradbarber788
  • Tell everybody you know so you can’t back out. Then anytime you question why you run, just put more sugar in. Oh, and lubricate your feet and your delicates. A LOT. –Lee Shane
  • Relax and have fun. Always better to have some friends to run your first one with. –Alan Bauler
  • Run when you can. Walk when you have to. You can always do another 10 miles. What goes in, comes out. You can do it. 90-percent mind. –Joann Oliver Lynch
  • Trust in your training and enjoy the view. –The Range of Motion @RangeOfMotion1
  • Wear sunscreen. Prepare to run on quads that feel like they have separated from your femur (they haven’t). Eat whatever looks good whenever you are hungry but keep those nasty gels in the tank with some regularity. Drink when thirsty. Smile! –Jason Walsh
  • Take care of your feet…any hot spots…change socks, shoes or both. –Sean Flannery
  • Don’t stop, don’t sit, don’t lie down. Stay on your feet to rest. Walk if you have to, but keep going. –Bee Yen @kamoterunner
  • Take all advice with a grain of salt. –Boog Ferrell @boogferrell


  • Before you focus on super long runs (>20-25 miles), perfect your stride as best you can. No point in logging (or slogging!) tons of heavy miles with crappy mechanics. You’ll only be prolonging recovery, beating yourself up more than you should, greater risk of injury, and practicing/further teaching your body inefficiency. Speed work also enhances stride efficiency. Before you “run long,” run right! Focus on leg turnover: 180-188 “revolutions per minute.” Being light on your feet is gonna lessen the chance of pounding your legs harder than they have to, thus, decreasing the risk of injury and being able to efficiently “flow” over varying terrain. And, when you’re tired in the later stages of an ultra, a higher cadence is going to help you “slow down less” (which is what we all want, right?) – Jacob Rydman
  • Do general strength and core work in your training. –Alex Beecher @Baristing
  • Don’t freak out, don’t neglect speed work, specificity and strength and conditioning. Warming up, cooling down and stretching are indispensable, do it every day! If your ultra is flat, do two hill sessions a week, if your ultra is hilly, do two flat sessions a week. –Levente Dorogi
  • Learn Chi Running! –Damian Stoy


  • One month before your first 50, complete a 50K healthy. Recover, resume training with no runs longer than 20 miles, and you will be fine. On race day, concern yourself only with finishing. Don’t worry about who’s ahead of you, who’s behind you, or any of that other bullshit. JUST FINISH. Have fun, respect the course and the distance, and just finish. At your next 50 miler you will smoke it. –Gene Gatens
  • Do your training runs prior in the 15-to-25-mile range at race pace. –Paul Winkelblech
  • Run few 50Ks before. If you can finish 50K with some spare time before cut offs, you can finish 50 miles with proper nutrition and strategy. –Olga Nevtrinos
  • Get in a few 20-miler back-to-backs. –Khara Tina Hamilton
  • Do at least two 35-mile training runs prior to the event. –Mike Kendig
  • Back to back loooong runs every weekend. Example: 20/10, 25/10. This helped me enormously. And train tired every once in a while. –Jennifer Ward


  • Patience. Don’t worry about people passing you and running faster early on. Stay relaxed and race your race. – JP Bordeleau
  • It’s OK to walk or hike, just do it with a purpose. –Eric Lee @MtnRunner_ELee
  • Hold back till past the halfway point. You’ll still have lots of miles to cover. Be sure to fuel and hydrate in the days before the race, not just on race day, get plenty of rest. Enjoy! – Tricia McLendon Lieberman
  • Slow down, then slow down again. Eat early and eat often! –Chris Swenke
  • I just ran my first 50-mile and the best advice I got was the pace myself the first half so that it felt slow. Walk or hike the climbs to save energy. If you have legs left, you can push harder in the second half. – Shelby Berg
  • Easy-chair pace. If you feel like your breathing hard or exerting any effort, you’re going too fast! –Rachel Corrigan
  • Take it easy, power walk hills until mile 30 when the race really starts. Don’t forget to enjoy the race and trail. –Ed Cushing
  • Log more time on your feet. Know the course you are running. Learn to walk and powerhike on your long runs. Hike the ups, run the downs. Pace and eat! – Rob Howard

Mental Strategy

  • Don’t let anyone convince you that it is a total slog—you will be mentally engaged. –Andrew Wellman @aj_wellman
  • Don’t ever consider the possibility that you won’t make it. Assume that you will and put all energies into making it so. –Dan @danieltyree
  • When you a hit a dark spot, keep moving forward. It will subside. –Travis Honaker @webgems13
  • Imagine you are training for 100 miles on those long runs, that will make 50 seem like a piece of cake. – Lee O’Breasail
  • Sit down beforehand for at least 10 minutes and think through the race, every checkpoint, how you’ll feel and convince yourself of a finish and nothing less. Stick to it. –Mark Howlett
  • Break your run into 5-mile checkpoints. This keeps your mind from freaking out. Don’t forget, it’s OK to take little rest stops as needed. –Christopher Sheehan
  • Just keep going until the finish. I felt tired after 25 miles, but kept going, and I really never got to feel more tired then I already felt. I just reached a steady state and kept running in it. Good luck! –Marjolein Baas
  • Be patient and the finish line will come to you… And left right left right … —Ryan Hopkins
  • Be prepared for the emotional roller coaster, but remember that you CAN do it!! –Mellisa Davis Warden
  • I did my first 50M a few weeks ago, and kept telling myself “As bad as you feel, understand that you’re going to feel worse, but you’re also going to feel better.” It kept me going through the “bad patches.” –Jeff Mannion
  • I locked myself out of my car 15 minutes before my first 50M; no wallet, phone, hydration, fuel, change of clothes, sunscreen, etc. I was problem solving throughout the race (coat hanger, locksmith, slim jim, etc.)—never getting into the BMW until the next day. Realize you really don’t need everything you think and just be mentally prepared for anything. Finished strong, running the entire trail race in a little over 10 hrs. –Gerry Smerka Jr.


  • Really dial in your nutrition plan—it’s probably just as important, if not more, as the training itself. –Brett Zugnoni
  • Find the right fuel. Real food if possible. Drink enough. SLOW DOWN. –Christopher Sheehan
  • Eat the most in the beginning while your stomach can handle the food. Go for salty foods @ mile 10… sweet foods in the beginning. –Heather Poast Live Barefoot
  • Eat, even when you’re not hungry, keep eating gels. – George Katsikaris Jr.
  • Puree food to get it broken down and it is awesome. –Dustin Young
  • I consumed nothing but gels every 25 mins or so and drank 8-10 oz of water every hr or so along with a salt capsule every hour. I also took 2 Advil at mile 31 and washed them down with a half can of Red Bull. I also drank coke and ginger ale at the aid stations but ate nothing but the gels! –Troy Brady
  • Don’t eat too much too fast. So practice eating. –Travis Cowan


  • Always do an ice bath for 10 minutes afterwards w/ a glass of wine or a beer do a little yoga before and after the race. –Heather Poast Live Barefoot

… And Most Importantly, Don’t Lose Your Sense of Humor

  • Bring whiskey. –Matt Smogor
  • Poop before the start. The rest is easy. –Davide Ferrara
  • Be very nice to your spouse. You’re going to need the brownie points! –Anthony Tieuli
  • Training is overrated. –Christopher Sipe
  • Lots of praying. –Jeff Yeaw


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