50 Mile Ultramarathon Training Plan
50 Mile Ultramarathon Training Plan
Ready to take on your first 50 Mile Ultramarathon? Have you completed a few 50 Mile races and looking to improve your time? Moving from the marathon or 50k distance up to the 50-mile ultra-distance can seem like a daunting task. Sure, you will need to commit more time to train, but with the proper build-up and positive attitude, you can make it to the finish line of your first 50-mile race! Our 50 Mile Running Plan is the perfect training guide for beginners and advanced runners alike. So get ready for ultra races such as American River 50, Lake Sonoma 50, Ice Age 50, and more with this complete 50 Mile Ultramarathon Training Plan and Guide!
Are You Ready to Train for a 50 Mile Ultramarathon?
Before you take on a 50 Mile training plan and race, runners should have a few years of experience with consistent running and racing at least at the marathon or 50k distance. An individual new to running could complete a 50 Mile ultramarathon, but remember this race distance takes months to build endurance. We want to help you prepare for a 50 Mile Ultramarathon while reducing the chance of overuse injuries or burnout. So it is in our best recommendation to be a bit more experienced as a runner.
You should be able to comfortably run at least 35-40 miles per week for 3 to 4 weeks in a row. Our 50 Mile Ultramarathon running plan starts at 32 miles in the first week and builds weekly mileage from there. You will be doing long miles almost every weekend to prepare both physically and mentally for your goal race. If you’re not quite there with your weekly mileage, that’s okay! We suggest focusing on your base building mileage. You may also use one of our marathon training plans or the 50k training plan to help you train up to the 50-mile ultra-distance.
What to Expect:
Our 50 Mile Ultramarathon training plan is 24-weeks in duration and focuses primarily on helping you get to the finish line of your race. We use training cycles of three weeks hard, one week easy to allow for recovery and help prevent overuse injuries or burnout. Three weeks hard followed by a recovery week provide physical and mental adaptation to training stresses for a 50 Mile race. You may find that you need to work in shorter or longer training cycles, and we address that in our “Modifying the Running Plan” section in this 50 Mile training guide.
We layout the distances you should be running and give you a general outline of what you should be doing. Precisely what you do will depend largely on your level of running experience and running goals. The course profiles of ultramarathons are not directly addressed in our running plans. For example, is your race flat, hilly, technical? Hot, or cold? These are all critical aspects of ultrarunning that you need to consider during your training to be ready for race day. In general, most of your training should be on terrain and in conditions similar to what you will face on race day.
How to Get Started?
Purchase our 50-mile ultramarathon running plan on Final Surge for a one-time fee of $39.99 per plan here. Digitally track your progress from start to finish of the training program.
Looking for more training guidance?
If you need more motivation or advice, we offer two additional training services that might interest you!
Sunrise+ Virtual Running Club
50 Mile Ultramarathon Running Plan Preview:
The following is a snapshot of what to expect in your purchased 50 Mile Ultramarathon Training Plan.
|WEEK||DAY 1||DAY 2||DAY 3||DAY 4||DAY 5||DAY 6||DAY 7||TOTAL|
The above training plan preview is designed for educational purposes and is not prescribed for any particular individual. The preview presented does not include complete details of what should be done on each training day. Consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs or if there are any individual health concerns to be aware of.
50 Mile Running Plan Terminology:
Be sure to read our article, “Am I Ready for an Ultramarathon?” for more insight into the adventure you are about to embark on.
Warm-Up: Run/Walk for 5 to 10 minutes at an easy effort before every workout (run days and cross-training days). A proper warm-up will help to gradually increase your heart rate, improve circulation, loosen up muscles, and prepare you for a workout.
Cool-Down: Run/Walk for 5 to 10 minutes at an easy effort after every workout (run days and cross-training days). A proper cool-down will help gradually bring your heart rate and breathing back to normal after the day’s workout.
Perceived Effort: A way to rate your effort level based on your feelings about the level of intensity on a scale of 1 to 10. A 1 is considered ‘At Rest,’ and a 10 is considered “An All Out Effort.” Use this scale in combination with Pace and Heart Rate to stay in the correct intensity level shown in the training schedule for a given day.
Heart Rate: If you have access to a heart rate monitor, then use this device to stay in the correct range and intensity level shown in the training schedule for a given day.
Walking/Hiking: Walking should be 100% expected during your ultramarathon race. Practicing walking/hiking in training can be helpful to simulate what you will experience on race day. During an ultramarathon, we recommend at least walking out of each aid station. This strategy gives you a good time to hydrate, consume calories, and refocus your thoughts on the challenge still left ahead. To incorporate walking into your training, try to develop some rhythm between running and walking. For example, walk for 1 minute out of every 10 minutes or only walk when you need to drink water (every 10 minutes) or take an energy gel (every 20-45 minutes). Walking breaks can help you regain control of your breathing and heart rate and allow you to regain mental focus to know that you can accomplish your goals.
Flexibility: Stretch lightly after every warm-up and cool-down period. Stretching will help improve flexibility, increase circulation, speed up recovery, and reduce the risk of injury.
Training Paces: We summarize the standard training paces below. However, this article on training paces gives an easy-to-understand overview of all the different training paces that can be added to a runner’s routine to improve speed, endurance, and recovery.
Easy Run: Easy pace/effort is considered at or slightly above what you can maintain a conversation, 60-75% of maximum heart rate, and 4 to 7 on the Perceived Effort scale.
Fartlek Run: The term Fartlek means “speed play.” It is a continuous run where short surges of faster running are mixed in throughout the run. While most ultramarathon training plans may not include speedwork, we believe Fartlek runs are incredibly effective at increasing lactate threshold and can unlock considerable potential for fitness gains while training for an ultramarathon. Be sure to include a warm-up and cool-down period in your fartlek workouts. Listen to your body; if you feel fatigued, treat these days as extra easy days in the schedule instead of running yourself further into energy debt.
Long Run Effort: The key to developing endurance is the long run, progressively increasing in distance each weekend. The long run should be done at a pace/effort so that you can easily maintain a conversation throughout the run. Work on running with an even pace/effort from start to finish of the long run. Be sure to recover properly after a long run as well so that you can get right back to training in the next day or week.
Back- to-Back Long Runs: Weekends of back-to-back long runs are done to simulate and adapt to running on fatigued legs and a tired mind. This type of long-run structure can be an effective and safer way to increase total training volume without putting in highly long runs every weekend. However, it would be best if you did not do back-to-back long runs every weekend, which will significantly reduce your time for recovery.
Racing: Consider adding a few races into the schedule, especially if your goals are time-oriented or need more practice with aid stations and fueling. This race will allow you to familiarize yourself more with running in a structured event. If you can’t find a race this week, feel free to modify the schedule around the available races. In the training plan, we have indicated a few good race opportunities. If you choose to enter races during this training plan, do not race all out; remember your long-term goals and that everything along the way is practice.
Rest Days: Rest days are an essential component of training for any long-distance running event, especially an ultramarathon. It is during your rest days that your muscles regenerate and get stronger. We designate Mondays and Fridays as days of rest during the training plan, which allows you to gather strength for the long Saturday/Sunday runs. Use rest days to get things done on your schedule so you don’t lose sight of your training as the week progresses.
Fueling While Running: For many, consuming calories while running will be a new challenge. Many runners will experience nausea and digestive issues when trying to take in the recommended 150 to 400 calories per hour that are needed during an ultramarathon. Your hydrating and nutrition needs and plan will be unique only to you, but here are some articles to help guide your path. The main point here is that you must practice your fueling regularly to find what works for you.
Proper Gear Choices: When running an ultramarathon or trail race, you will need to consider the following gear choices: Shes, Lights, Navigation, Hydration, and Apparel. Read the article “Proper Gear Choices for Trail Running” on our website for more information.
Depending on your level of experience, overall goals, and race course profile, the following topics need to be incorporated into your ultramarathon training plan.
Cross-Training: Include activities other than running and walking in your training plan. If you are entirely new to exercise, then you should wait until weeks 4 or 5 to add in cross-training workouts. If you are already active 3 to 4 days per week, then start the cross-training as scheduled in the plan. Examples of activities for cross-training may include cycling, elliptical, rowing, strength training, swimming, or yoga. Cross-training will help to reduce the impact on your body and reduce the risk of injury from running. Cross-training can also speed up recovery time between running workouts. If you are ever feeling too tired or sore from running, consider taking an occasional cross-training day as an extra day of rest.
Strength Training: A form of cross-training, strength training can be a great way to increase lean muscle and boost metabolism while at rest. Strength training can be completed using body weight, free weights, resistance bands, weight machines, or classes such as Pilates, Yoga, or CrossFit. Include exercises for the upper body, core, back, and lower body. Warm up with a run/walk for 5 to 10 minutes. If you are new to strength training, then start with 1 set of each exercise for 12-15 repetitions. The goal is to work your muscles to fatigue or until you can no longer maintain proper form during the exercise. Continue with 1 set of each exercise for weeks 1 through 3, then progress gradually over a few weeks to 2-4 sets of each exercise for 8-15 repetitions.
Speed Work or Track Workouts: Warm up with 10-15 minutes of running at a easy pace. Then, complete the appropriate speed workout for the day. These speed workouts should be at a hard effort, 80-95% of maximum heart rate, 8+ Perceived Effort. You should be able to hear yourself breathing hard. It is very important to make sure your recovery effort between repeats is truly easy. Running too fast during the recovery can have a negative impact on your performance during these workouts. Walk for recovery if you need to.
Hill Work: There is no hill work involved in the ultramarathon training plan. If your ultramarathon race calls for large amounts of vertical gain or loss, then we recommend purposefully scheduling in runs or similar elevation profiles as your chosen race. Depending on where you live, completing hill work can be challenging. Be creative with the use of parking garages, treadmills, stairs, etc.. You can complete one (1) day per week of hill training. Consider alternating weeks if also incorporating speedwork. Also, if your race features a significant amount of elevation change, consider completing some of your long runs on hills as well.
Tempo Run: A tempo run is a sustained effort run that increases your body’s ability to run faster for more extended periods of time. Whether you are training for a 5k, marathon, ultramarathon, or anything in between, this is a helpful training session. Beyond improving your ability to run fast and long, tempo runs have many other benefits. Tempo runs should always include a warm-up period of easy running before moving on to the harder-paced portion of the workout.
3/1 or Fast Finish Long Run: A 3/1 or fast finish long run is one in which you run the first three-fourths of the distance at a comfortable long run pace, then accelerate to near race pace over the last one-quarter of the workout. You should finish these long runs and feel refreshed but not overly tired.
Modifying the Plan:
Don’t be afraid to move the workouts from day to day during the week (Days 1 through 5), but try to maintain the weekend schedule (Days 6 and 7) as much as possible. You may mind that this does not always match up with your friends or running group’s agenda. However, these long-run efforts have been structured in a way to prepare you for an ultramarathon best. For example, switching the order of Day 6 and 7 in a week with back-to-back long runs will not result in the same training effect and preparedness on race day.
Be consistent with your training, listen to your body, and progress as your fitness allows you to progress. At the same time, remember that training for an ultramarathon is a different type of long-distance running challenge that takes an extra level of dedication to achieve. Making too many modifications will result in not following the training plan and potentially failing to achieve your goals.