I’m training for my first 50 miler. Sometimes, when I think about what I’ve signed up for, I question my sanity. I mean 50 miles. 5 – 0 miles! My goal is to come in around 12 hours. Which is still a stretch. Okay, over the initial craziness. How the hell do I make this happen?
Choosing the distance:
Some background if you don’t know me. How did I get to the point where I decided 50 miles was a good idea? Quick timeline: I ran my first 5K in 2008, half in 2009, full in 2010. My first few fulls were all 18 months or so apart. Then in 2014, I picked it up. In 2015 I ran 4 fulls/ultras in a 3 month period. And I ran three in Spring 2016. My endurance is pretty good, and I can comfortably run 40 miles a week. I feel like it took me a while to get here. For most of 2016, I’m getting a workout in every day. This is the first time I’ve been able to sustain that.
Now, I’m in Oklahoma, I have what feels like extra time, because I work from home and I’m not spending that time commuting to work. There is also a pretty strong running group here. So, peer pressure has definitely contributed to my jump to the 50 miler.
I honestly never thought I’d run this distance. It is crazy.
Choosing the race:
I considered a couple different races for my first 50 miler:
Do Whacka Do in Oklahoma: this race is in early September, and you run three loops for the 50 miler. Although, I hear it’s just shy of 50 miles.
Mark Twain 50 miler in Missouri: it’s in mid September and is all single track, and from what I hear, it’s pretty technical.
Hawk Hundred – 50 mile option in Kansas: this one is likely the best option for a beginner 50 miler. The terrain would be the most similar to what we train on here in Oklahoma, and Lawrence, KS is definitely driveable.
Big Cedar in Texas: this one is November – a little later than I wanted to run, but is supposed to be beautiful.
Run Rabbit Run in Colorado: some locals were selling our group on this one. They have run it before, and to be honest, it seems pretty challenging for a first 50 miler!
Run Rabbit Run is the winner here. Probably not the wisest choice, and not the choice I would have made on my own, but it’s the choice our group made. We initially had 5 runners that signed up to run the 50 miler + the couple that originally wrangled us in + 2 other runners that we’ve recruited and are currently on the wait list.
FYI: Here’s the elevation profile for Run Rabbit Run:
How do I train for this shit?
Step 1: Find a training plan! Where did I look? On the internet of course. After looking at a bunch of plans, I decided to follow an outline from the ultraladies – there is a generator hosted on the scrunners.org site.
This plan seems doable, considering I’m a pretty slow runner. The mileage doesn’t seem out of control like some others that brought me up to 70 or 80 mpw. Some other modifications here, I’m also weight and mobility training 3 days a week + a swim + a bike once a week. I usually drop the lowest planned run for the week in lieu of the other cross training that I’m doing.
Step 2: Buy a book! There’s so much other stuff to think about for a 50 miler. Am I eating enough? What signs should I look out for? I bought Running your First Ultra by Krissy Moehl. At this point, I’ve skimmed the book, and I should go back and dig in a little more.
Step 3: Address questions about elevation! So, after people get over the initial shock that someone may run 50 miles. They ask where I’m running, and their next shock is that I’m going to run at elevation. To be honest, this worries me a bit too. The highest elevation I have run is Utah Valley Marathon – starting abound 6K feet, and running down to 4K feet above sea level. For Run Rabbit Run, we’ll start at 6500 feet, and run up to 10,500. Although the bulk of the climbing is the 6 mile ascent to start.
My canned response is that training in heat and humidity will prepare for running at elevation. And what do you know? Runners’ World agrees with me! It still makes me pretty nervous.
Step 4: Just fucking run. I mean, that’s it right. Train, and train, and train. I’m gonna head out for a rainy run right now. I’ll update you later.
“Essential reading material and bourbon.” I like the way you roll.
Bourbon is very important!! And I’m glad we’re kindred sprits! Although, I am considering giving up drinking the month leading into the race
That thought goes through my head before races, too … but then I come to my senses.
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Regardless of what happens, RRR will be an adventure! And your very first 50 miler (#automaticPR). Good luck training! I agree that humidity is good training for altitude. 🙂
Definitely an adventure! And it can also be my first ever DNF!! I mean, that has to happen eventually, right? And what a way to get it out of the way?
Haha. I don’t know if a DNF *has* to happen, but it would be more understandable to DNF a 50 miler than a shorter distance. 😉
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Let’s hear it for peer pressure! That’s a mighty impressive elevation profile, all right… screams “Colorado” without any introduction. You’re going to have a great day at RRR because 1) you have a positive attitude (e.g. “I’m positive this is going to be an ass-kicker”) and 2) you’re being very thoughtful in your approach to training. Weight training in the form of core strengthening is a great idea, too.
I realize you & Jen are kidding, but… I’d say before you even reach the start line, tell yourself that (barring injury) a DNF is absolutely positively out of the question — don’t even plant the seed in the back of your mind because if you’re not feeling great, then when the going gets tough (somewhere around 10,000 ft, I’m guessing), your mind will start looking for reasons to pack it in. Don’t give it any. That said, 50 miles is definitely a “fail to prepare, prepare to fail” type of thing, so your approach is the right one. Take it slow, take it steady, take it smart, and you’ll have a day to remember fondly for a long time. And along the way, you’ll have some much-appreciated distraction thanks to the beautiful scenery. Good luck with your training, and look forward to updates as race day approaches!
Thanks, Mike! When I took the StrengthsFinder – Positivity is my top strength, so I’ve definitely go that going for me!! I hope you’re right about training smart =) and we’ll see if it comes together for me.
As for the DNF talk – it is all in jest. And honestly, I think I’m too competitive a person to think that is a viable option. Plus, since I’ll have other hometown runners with me, that is going to give me the extra push to keep going. I’ll strike it from my vocabulary right now!!