TRAINING TO RACE BEYOND
Katie Carsky There is a lot that people do not know about the ultramarathon. For starters, Merriam-Webster defines ultramarathon as “a footrace longer than a marathon,” but most ultramarathons start at 50K (31.1 miles). Also, contrary to popular belief, you do not have to be on trails to run an ultra. Finally, what might be the most surprising is that any distance runner can take on an ultra. You already know how to train, which means you are also able to tackle the long run. Believe it or not, 50K training does not look much different from marathon training. Beyond that, 50-mile training takes it up a notch, but it is doable if you have a solid base of high mileage. Beyond 50K’s and 50 milers, 100K’s and 100 milers are another beast. Take it one step at a time. When you step it up to a 50K ultra, what is the same? Needless to say, the long run is still key. The peak long run for a marathon tends to be 20-23 miles when you are 3 weeks out. The long run for a 50K might be around a marathon distance, which is not a big jump. Now, what is different? Honestly, not much. The 50K race is run at a pace slower than marathon race pace, which keeps it from being physically overwhelming. As long as you mentally prepare yourself for an extra 6 miles, you have got it in the bag. Now, 50-mile training takes a little more thought and effort. You need to have a solid running base before you start a training plan, which is ideally around 16 weeks. The peak long run should be about 30 or 31 miles about 4 weeks out from the race. You might even consider registering for a 50K race as a training run one month out.
When training for 50 miles, your weekly mileage will also rev up over the course of your training. Most weeks will be over 50 miles, and the longest week could be upwards of 60-70 miles of running. At the same time, do not be afraid to walk when you need to. Try to also add a moderate distance run the day before or after your long run to simulate running on worn-out legs. Of course, don’t forget to take your rest days seriously. With all that said, step one is just picking out your race, so you better start looking! Here are some paved ultramarathons to check out: Hachie 50: Marathon, 50K, 50M relay, 50M in Waxahachie This race takes place in Waxahachie, TX on a paved park trail. It is an out and back in roughly 10-mile segments. Pistol Ultra: Relay, 50K, 50M, 100K, 100M This race takes place in Alcoa, TN on a paved greenway trail in comfortable March weather. Chicago Lakefront 50/50: 50K and 50M This ultra takes place in October in Chicago. It is run on a mostly-paved course that is out and back with a beautiful view of the city and the lake. And here are some trail ultramarathons to consider: Loup Garou Trail Run: 20M, 40M, 60M & 100M This race takes place in the scenic Chicot State Park in Louisiana. Bandera Endurance Trail Run: 25K, 50K & 100K A popular annual race that takes place in Bandera, Tx.
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