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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some of you may know me from CR, where I mainly hung out in the Multisport thread by the username 'ussoccer'. The only other place I'd check in from time to time was the Ultra board. Because I have had the yearning to dip my toe in the Ultra waters.<br><br>
This past weekend, I am happy to report, I did my first "ultra" in the Fat Ass 50K in North Adams, Massachusetts. I started at an easy pace, stayed on top of my hydration and nutrition, and with each lap got incrementally faster to complete the 50K feeling very good. Sort of. I say sort of because each lap I purposely picked up pace as I had more and more confidence that I would not run any faster than I felt I couldn't hold to the end. But because I paced well, I finished the distance nearly all out, as my last three laps (of 5) were incrementally faster, until the fourth and fifth lap, where it was as if I was running a half marathon -- or at least in pace. I think this strategy worked well, mainly because I was able to finish while feeling good. No doubt I could have run faster. No doubt.<br><br>
But that got me thinking about what exactly a 50K is, and my thoughts aren't exactly as welcoming to what I had just achieved (from a personal standpoint). A 50K, or so it seemed, appears to be nothing more than a mis-marked marathon. This is not to diminish the distance but rather to say that, after my experience where I thought I'd have to search for all powers that be just to get me through, I'm beginning to think that it is the 50 miler (and 100K and 100 milers) that are the Ultras I assumed this would be. You can run a 50K on marathon training -- although I must confess that I have indeed run a bit longer, and I've run a fair number of marathons over the year. But it seems a 50K can indeed be raced as if a marathon only a touch slower. That to me doesn't seem what the word Ultra conjurs for me. Again, I am not putting down the distance, as I know distance means something different for everyone, especially based on training, speed, etc. where some people can truly race it. As in approach it as if to go hard and hold on the entire way.<br><br>
Which then got me thinking about a 50-miler. If my theory is right that for some (again, depending on training and fitness base) a 50K is just a mis-marked marathon, then what would be the big differences in stepping up to 50 miles?<br><br>
Let me start... I imagine that if I were to run a 50-miler, I would first off start a bit slower than I did for the 50K. Second I would make more of an effort to run with somebody to help pass through the first 20 miles, so that my day starts then. Third, I assume that instead of consuming Gu's and bananas and an occasional PB&J sandwich, I'd be doing more solids earlier. And I'd have to consider things such as sodium. The other is that if the course is hilly, I'd want to take the hills very, very easy, like even walk them, to limit the pounding on the body, which for me seems to be a more limiting factor to my potential the longer I would run. Next might be to insert a walk/run pattern, whether I need it or not, starting around 35-40 miles. This, I'm guessing, would make a stronger finish. And help recovery.<br><br>
What are your thoughts on stepping up from 50K to 50?
 

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Personally I wouldn't <i>start</i> walking at 35-40 miles. For me, some kind of run/walk strategy figures into any >50M race. If I abandon the walk breaks it's either because a) I'm cocky early in the race, or b) I'm confident later in the race.<br><br>
My biggest difference between a 50K and +50M would be in the training. I don't like to run much further than 60-70km in a single training run. So when training for 50km races it was reasonable to run the whole distance or more in training. Not so for 50M, 100k or 100M. That's why I like to do back to back long runs. But that's just me. Other people enjoy having weekends.
 

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the biggest differences in training:<br><br>
1. time on your feet, possibly back to back long runs. My mileage was only about 10-15 mpw higher than marathon training when training for 50M, but my mileage was weighted on the weekends.<br><br>
2. nutrition. you need to really focus on eating enough and fueling enough for 50 miles. 200-300 cals/hour.<br><br>
3. feet. blisters, toe nails, etc. get that in check prior to your race.<br><br>
It is very rarely the running part that people have issues with at ultras, it is usually the other factors-- trail injuries, throwing up, dehydration, lack of fuel, severe nausea, severe foot problems.
 

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I agree with Merigayle, and would add that there is a mental component that comes into play. I'd suggest checking out <a href="http://www.ultrunr.com/index.html" target="_blank">Kevin Sayers Web Site</a>. It is a great source of information.
 

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Hi Thor! Glad to see you over here! Most 50ks are much more than<br>
mismarked marathons! And most 50 milers are much more than<br>
2 marathons back to back. (You may want to take a gander at<br>
some of the elevation profiles for the races listed at<br><a href="http://www.extremeultrarunning.com" target="_blank">http://www.extremeultrarunning.com</a>).<br>
While there are many road ultras and<br>
those on relatively flat (or "marathonlike"<img alt="wink.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/wink.gif"> trails, most are on single<br>
track with roots, rocks, and other obstructions, with large amounts<br>
of elevation gain and descent, stream crossings, and long, steep<br>
fire roads. Some 50ks I've done are about equivalent to two marathons.<br>
No doubt, a big difference when you get into the longer races or the<br>
more challenging 50ks is that you have to learn how to eat and run,<br>
generally real food. And definitely training should be substantially<br>
different, especially for someone like yourself who would be competitive.<br>
Just like markc7, I really don't have the time for super-long runs, so<br>
I train with back-to-back 20 milers, which have proven sufficient<br>
even for the 100 mile distance.<br><br>
(leitnerj from CR)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
All: Thanks so much for the input. And merigayle, thanks for that Sticky thread with all the information, as there's enough there to answer all of my questions, including those I never knew I had.<br><br>
Jesse: Nice to touch base again. I've re-saved your links... yeah, I like to keep tabs on people doing amazing things... you are one of them.<br><br>
So it seems I'm at least thinking the right way. The only thing I might want to do differently is insert walk breaks in a medodical yet early way, even if just on hills in the early going. With my limited experience in the 50K and my background in marathoning, I realize the importance of limiting the impact on the body, because after 40 miles it really adds up.<br><br>
The other part, which is really just confirmation, is Ultra running is much like my Ironman triathlons, where nutrition and keeping the body fueled for the long haul, is perhaps even more important than the fitness aspect of doing yet longer runs, which are important anyway.<br><br>
And the part I knew but totally over looked, is that when the day comes for me to make an attempt at a race longer than a "mismarked marathon," as I seem to have discovered the 50k distance to be, I will need to run trails -- lots of them and very frequently, especially on long runs. Being a road runner, that will be the challenging part for me. I will need to build those new muscles required for endurance strength jumping roots, riding single track, and descending uneven and often loose dirt.<br><br>
As for me, although I am very interested in trying my hand at a 50-miler, and although I am now in the best endurance shape of my life where it would make sense to try to play in your pool (50 miler or more) now, I still have many goals at the Iron distance level where that will continue to be my focus. And as I've found, these two arenas each require so much focus and time that they don't exactly play together for most, and certainly not for me.<br><br>
Thanks for the advice. I'll continue to lurk about. And hope to see you someday.
 

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Great Thread and Input from the Vets<br><br>
I'm just about to give Holiday Lake 50K a second try for my first 50k completion with hopes for Promise Land 50K and Mt Masochist 50M this year too. Those are stretches, but better to stretch and fall, than never stretch at all.<br>
So far, training has been fair to good. I've been trying to get some core strenght workouts going for a coupla months too. I've been in the 50's/week with regular cut-backs for a coulpa months. I brick with my long runs too occasionally. I run on easy dirt and occasionally venture out on to the AT if my ankles feel up to it. My mid-week MLR is 12 and my last LR was 22. I'm putting an MLR of 8-10 day before or after the LR. My goal is a 20-20 back to back before my last cutback. I'm 52 starting my third year of running if that makes a difference.<br>
Advice or magic spells welcome,<br>
jjj
 

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<img alt="" src="http://bestsmileys.com/magic/7.gif" style="border:0px solid;"><br><br><img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif"><img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif"><img alt="biggrin.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/biggrin.gif"><br><br><br>
Did that help? <img alt="wink.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/wink.gif"><br><br>
Your training seems pretty solid. What has really helped me in the past two years is cross training. When i just ran 100% of the time i often felt burned out, now, i rarely ever get that feeling, even when i peak with my training.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
This is a line I could have said myself a few years back. Only my cross training was when I tried my hand at triathlons. The cross training of cycling and swimming and core workouts really left me so much a stronger runner and definitely to the point where I haven't been nearly as injured in the past. Not only that but the cross training has really breathed new energy into my runs -- from daily runs all the way to races. Mind you, I only did one 50k, so I'm no ultra maniac like the fine people here, but there is no doubt in my mind that the cross training really helped.<br><br>
On top of that, the number one thing that I feel has helped me become a stronger runner, especially on hills, was the quality time I put in on the bike. And I mean quality time. Not just spinning away but rather doing intervals and big gear work, as if lifting weights but for the legs. Long course triahtlons taught me hydration and nutrition (including watching salts, etc), which I believe is utmost important in ultras as well. I can't praise the bike enough in my running. It's to the point where I can feel my strength on the bike while I run. Especially hills. I get the circles of proper cycling technique going to assist more efficient ascents for speedier times. In fact, it was only my work on the bike -- with absolutely no speedwork on the run -- that got me to drop my marathon time to near PR of my youth, a good 15 years earlier. But again, the bike time was high quality.<br><br>
One thing biking has not done, however, is run those trails for me, as I have been to date strickly a road runner.
 

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Good to see you over here, triple-j. When you're preparing for<br>
Promise Land and MMTR, be sure to get in a lot of long hills, over<br>
and over again. You don't have to run them hard, you just have to<br>
get through them. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Go to sleep, already... we're running in the morning. <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">
 

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Yup, building your mental focus so you can step over roots and rocks even when you're REALLY tired is important. You may only have 20 miles left, but you don't know how long that can be when you're going "SPLAT" once a mile. Pretty soon your body just involuntarily goes into involuntary stifflegged cringe mode and you're even less nimble at stepping over rocks. <img alt="sad.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/sad.gif"><br><br>
But there are plenty of nontechnical 50s out there, JFK being the most obvious, Lean Horse and Miwok (a 100K) are others I've run that require almost no trail skill. Just research the races a little beforehand and go for it.
 

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haha - I just got smacked the other day for saying the<br>
same thing to some non-trail-runner types after they spent 4+ hours<br>
on the Appalachian Trail portion and came off all beaten and battered!<br>
Nothing that two or three AT training runs couldn't clear up though.
 

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There are also plenty road ultras as well that often get overlooked! Old Dominion Memorial, which has been one of my most enjoyable races is all on roads. And going up and over Woodstock Mountain a few times does not make that race an easy race by any means! lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'm taking notes like a studious wannabe, so keep up the tips and even ideas on non-trail ultras, which yes, I know will do a number on your body due to the inordinate amount of concrete running. Thanks to you all I've already got a list <img alt="smile.gif" src="http://files.kickrunners.com/smilies/smile.gif">
 

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It made my whole body smile,<br>
Thanks,<br>
Though I'm a bit late to the XT party, I can already feel a difference in my runs especially in the form department.<br>
I think you're spot on.<br>
jjj
 

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I'm straddling the line between ultras and marathons as well. I've done three 50 mile runs, all on roads, a 50k trail ultra on a very gentle trail, and an aborted attempt at a proper trail 50 miler. My perspective for what it's worth is below:<br><br>
Road 50 miler vs. marathons - as long as you're disciplined enough to run slowly and insert some walk breaks, you can do these off marathon training. If I recall your marathon times are in the sub 3 range like me, so think about running 8-8:30 pace with a brief 2-3 minute walk break every 2-3 miles early and see how that goes for you. You'll be amazed at how far you can run if you run smart early.<br><br>
The trail 50k I did was an easy trail so it wasn't more challenging than a semi-tough maraton course, but it was much hotter so I bonked big time.<br><br>
Trail 50 Miler - This was a tough mutha!! It was the OPSF 50 in Indiana - a small loop you ran first and last, with 3 repeats of a larger loop in between. I wanted to run more aggressively than I did the road 50 miler so I pushed fairly hard through the small loop, then when I finished the first big loop I found myself in the top 5 or 8 or something like that. Then I realized I'd taken a wrong turn - no problem, I probably only cut a few hundred yards off the course because my pace was what I expected it to be. WRONG! I had cut 45 minutes off the loop - THAT'S how bad I am at trail running!<br><br>
In short, you're ready for the road 50 miler now if you race it smart like you did the FA 50km, and if you're good on the trails, go for it. If you're like me, expect to run far slower on trails than road, so brush up on your trail running.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
PacerChris: Thank you. Great stuff there. Good luck to yourself. I suppose if you continue your progression to trails, you, with your speed, will start doing very well in whatever race you enter. Thanks again!
 
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