The Ultimate Ultramarathon Training Plan

October 8, 2017 | Author: sinclaire90210 | Category: Marathon, Trail, Athletics, Running, Physical Exercise
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Training Plans

The Ultimate Ultramarathon Training Plan

Beginners Newbie Chronicles Workouts Pace Workouts & Charts

You don't have to be crazy to run an ultramarathon. You just have to be ready.

Hill Training Strength & Cross Training

By Doug Rennie

Race Training

From the August 2004 issue of Runner's World

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DO. NOT. BE. INTIMIDATED. If you have completed a marathon or two, you can--in 16 weeks--add an ultramarathon to your running resume. Really. "In South Africa, 14,000 runners each year enter the Comrades Marathon, 54 challenging miles of big rolling hills, and each year about 85 percent of them finish," says George Parrott, ultrarunning vet and director of training for the Buffalo Chips Running Club of Sacramento. "The moral here is that your expectations can get you to the finish line of an ultramarathon, and that this kind of distance is not unworldly." Okay, but first, what exactly is an ultramarathon? Anything beyond the classic 26.2-mile distance--races from increasingly popular 50-Ks to 100-milers to solo crossings of continents. For your first adventure on the far side of 26.2, we suggest that you look a bit beyond the 50-K--really just a stretched-out marathon--to 50 miles, the first true, braggingrights ultra. So find yourself a friendly 50-miler, count back 16 weeks from race day, clip and post the following training plan--and get to it.

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Training for 50: A few things you should know You're not going to spend most of your waking hours running. That's because prepping for a 50-miler is much like marathon training, but with fewer and slower intervals, and somewhat

Step It Up After a period of building your base, it's time to pick up the pace—and get really fit. Surge Protector "Float" workouts build strength for midrace attacks. Get Serious Do the speedwork first and build endurance later? Is that any way to train for a marathon? Yes, say some of the world's best runners. This 12-week plan turns the typical training program upside down--with incredible results

longer (and slower) long runs spiced with walking breaks. Our plan offers enough miles in the proper dosages to prepare you for your first 50, while leaving you with enough time and energy to have, like, an actual life. Ultra training is not about speed, or even distance, but rather time on your feet. Hence, the core element in getting you ready is the long run "sandwich": back-to-back long, slowish runs on successive days (likely Saturday and Sunday) bookended by two days of total rest.

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When you start the 16-week schedule below, you must be at the point where you're running 15 to 18 miles for your weekly or every-other-week long run. Terra Plana Evo You'll be doing a bit of long, but not-so-fast interval work to boost muscle strength, stamina, and aerobic capacity. This will also keep you from settling into a semipermanent slow slog that

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makes a 12-minute pace feel like a 100-meter dash. When it comes to running the long stuff, friends make for more fun. "Find training partners who have the same goal, so you can all encourage each other and learn from each other's experiences as your training progresses," says Luis Alvarez, who finished his first 50-miler last year to celebrate his 50th birthday. "And if you have someone who has experienced the

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distance and is willing to train with you, so much the better." 8 Rules of the road

1) Stay flat by Taboola

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The Ultimate Ultramarathon Training Plan,7120,s6-238-244--7556-...

Find as flat a 50 as you can, and as close to home as possible. Running this far for the first time is tough enough without the added stress of steep hills and travel. 2) Get familiar Train on the terrain you're going to race on: trails, asphalt, or--as is common in many 50-mile events--a mix of the two.

has anyone tried the insanity workouts?? In: Training Essentials and Workouts Sacrificing General Athleticsm/Fitness for Running Performance In: Training Essentials and Workouts

3) Take breaks "Stopping briefly for walk breaks in both training and racing is the key to being able to move forward at all times," says Buffalo Chips ultrarunner Becky Johnson, who finished her first

What time of day do you prefer? In: Training Essentials and Workouts Need To Weight Train the Legs for More Speed??

50-miler in 2003.

In: Training Essentials and Workouts

4) Pack a bag

POWERCRANKS for runners?

Most 50-mile events will drop your race bag near the 35-mile point (some also will make a

In: Training Essentials and Workouts

drop around 20 miles). Your drop bag(s) should include solid fuel (your favorite energy bars, candy bars, or gels), sunscreen, long-sleeve T-shirt and/or nylon windbreaker, clean socks and an alternate pair of shoes, and Vaseline or skin lube. 5) Start slowly, then back off Because when it comes to 50-milers, pacing errors no longer penalize just your finishing time, but the possibility of finishing at all. "Start off a full 30 seconds-per-mile slower than your marathon pace," says Parrott.

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6) Eat, drink, and (try to) be merry During the race, eat whatever worked for you during your training runs: cookies, raisins, figs,

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crackers, pretzels, energy bars. Whatever. And drink continuously: eight ounces or so every 15 to 20 minutes, including electrolyte-loaded sports drinks. Consider high-caffeine drinks such as Mountain Dew over the last 15 miles. 7) Find a rhythm One popular run/walk pattern is to run 20 minutes, walk five minutes. Do this from the outset, or after you've run the first 15 or 20 miles, or whatever pattern has worked best for you in your training. Some prefer a shorter mix of running five minutes, then walking one, believing that this is less stressful than the 20:5 pattern. Note: Walk all uphills, even the small ones, and even if it means short-circuiting a run segment. 8) Be prepared Just how much time is this thing going to take you? To get a ballpark expectation, double your best marathon time and add two hours to get a realistic 50-mile time. So for example, a 3:30 marathoner could expect to run his or her first 50 in about nine hours. Schedule See below

WeekM T 1 Rest6-10 miles, including 4x1 mile at TMP 2 Rest6-10 Miles, including 4x1 mile at TMP 3 Rest6-10 miles, including 2x2 miles at HMP

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W Easy 5-mile jog Easy 5-mile jog Easy 5-mile jog

TH F 7-9 Rest miles, middle 3 at MP 7-9 Rest miles, middle 3 at MP 7-9 Rest miles, middle 3 at MP (5:00)

S 90-minute run

SU 3-hour run (or about 18 miles)

90-minute run

3-hour run

2-hour run

3.5-hour run (or about 20 miles)

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The Ultimate Ultramarathon Training Plan














Rest5-8 miles, including 3x1 mile at TMP Rest9 miles, including 6x1 mile at TMP Rest9 miles, including 6x1 mile at TMP Rest9 miles, including 6x1 mile at HMP Rest9 miles, including 3x2 miles at HMP Rest9 miles, including 6x1 miles at TMP Rest9 miles, including 6x1 miles at TMP Rest9 miles, including 3x2 miles at HMP Rest9 miles, including 6x1 mile at TMP Rest9 miles, including 6x1 mile at TMP Rest9 miles, including 4x1 mile at TMP Rest7 miles, including 3x1 mile at MP Rest6 miles, middle 3 at HMP,7120,s6-238-244--7556-...

Easy 6 miles, Rest 5-mile middle 2 jog at MP

1.5-hour run 2-hour run

Easy 9 miles, Rest 5-mile middle 3 jog at MP

3.5- to 3-hour run 4-hour run (or about 20-24 miles) 3.5- to 3-hour run 4-hour run

Easy 9 miles, Rest 5-mile middle 3 jog at MP Easy 9 miles, Rest 5-mile middle 3 jog at MP

3.5- to 4-hour run

Easy 9 miles, Rest 5-mile middle 3 jog at MP

2-hour run

Easy 9 miles, Rest 5-mile middle 3 jog at MP

4-hour run

Easy 9 miles, Rest 5-mile middle 3 jog at MP Easy 9 miles, Rest 5-mile middle 3 jog at MP

3-hour run, last hour at MP 2.5-hour run

3.5-hour run, last hour at MP 4-hour run 3.5-hour run, last hour at MP 2.5-hour run 3-hour run

Easy 9 miles, Rest 5-mile middle 3 jog at MP

4-hour run

Easy 9 miles, Rest 5-mile middle 3 jog at MP

4-hour run

5-hour run (or about 27-29 miles) 5-hour run

Easy 9 miles, Rest 5-mile middle 3 jog at MP

2-hour run

2-hour run

Easy 7 miles, Rest 5-mile middle 3 jog at MP

1.5-hour run Easy 1-hour jog

Easy Easy 5-mile 3-mile jog jog

Rest: 50-mile race Rest. Stay (Duh.) off your feet

Key:(MP) Marathon Pace: the pace/effort you can hold in a marathon (HMP) Half-Marathon Pace: the per-mile average of your best half-marathon (TMP) 10-Mile Pace: the per-mile pace of your fastest 10-miler Recovery for HMP/TMP: Jog slowly until you feel fresh enough to start the next repetition. 4 Fifties to Try 1. American River 50-Mile Endurance Run (April 2) "More river, more bike trail, more scenery" makes this point-to-point 50-miler one of the West's most popular and beginner-friendly ultras. You start near the Cal State Sacramento University campus, follow the paved American River bike path for 24 miles, then switch to single-track horse trail for the final 26. Comes with aid stations aplenty and a generous 13-hour time limit. ( 2. Mount Hood Pacific Crest Trail Ultramarathon (July 30) Surrounded by the lush Mount Hood National Forest, you do your 50 miles out-and-back on the shady Pacific Crest Trail from Timothy Lake to historic Timberline Lodge--where part of the movie adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining was filmed. Good footing and gorgeous scenery balance out the "moderately difficult" 4,000 total feet of elevation gain. ( 3. Le Grizz Ultramarathon (October 8) Courses just don't get more spectacular than this 50-mile point-to-point forest road loop around the Hungry Horse Reservoir in Spotted Bear, Montana. The (literal) highlight comes at

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mile 47 when you cross the reservoir's 564-foot-high spillway. It's the only 50 you'll run whose race packet includes "If You Encounter a Bear" instructions. ( 4. JFK 50 Mile (November 19) Held in Hagerstown, Maryland, "America's Ultramarathon" is the nation's oldest and largest ultradistance event--and a scenic, point-to-pointer to boot with 13 miles on the legendary Appalachian Trail, and 26 on the historic B & O canal tow path with aid stations every four miles. ( To find an ultra near you, see the coast-to-coast listings on or check out our Ultramarathon Event Calendar.


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12 comments Score: 0 c-ymel 12:10 PM on December 29, 2008 Great article for a beginner -- you may want to add a flashlight to the list of items in the drop bag. Many runners are on the trail when evening comes and a flashlight is a must!

Score: 0 TriToBe 12:16 PM on March 3, 2009 Good article! Recently I learned about deca-ironman and Iditarod trail race (1100 mile foot race):

Keep up the great articles - thanks. Score: -1 Jon Martinez 9:07 PM on July 26, 2009 Hey Doug, Thanks for the article on ultra running. Just like any other sport, you need to have discipline and perseverance when preparing for an ultramarathon. In this case, it's just a higher degree of dedication involved....

For anyone who's interested, I was one of the sound guys for a documentary on the Massanutten 100 mile ultramarathon. The course goes through 100 miles of trails in the mountains of Virginia. If you want to check out the trailer, go to Check it out, they make it look easy and fun! Jon Score: 0 Abichal 11:40 PM on June 7, 2010 One of the goals of the long run is to enjoy it to the point where a 3 hour run is no longer any kind of challenge. For ideas about training for multiday races and long ultramarathons, visit:


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Score: 0 NCathlete 9:26 AM on June 18, 2010 I'm going for my first 50 miler (JFK) this year. Thanks for the plan!

Score: 2 Rossco66 8:21 AM on August 2, 2010 A good article indeed. Like any race, just as in life, have a plan. This is a really good one. But lets face it, we are crazy. Revel in it. Is running a 100 tough? Absolutely. That's why we do it. Will it change your perspective on life, about yourself and what you can achieve. Oh yes indeed. So many people say, oh how can you do that? You must be nuts. Yeah and so is driving in heavy traffic late on a Friday afternoon. Secret is, you will feel a whole lot better about yourself. On a practical level, can I offer the following: anti chaff is a must, and buy the best pair of shoes you can afford. Even if you have to mortgage family members. Well the annoying ones that no one will miss. Put the anti chaff (the roll on is best, well for me) on the tops of your toes, down the sides of your toes and underneath too and soles of your feet. Put it on the inside of your thighs, on your backside and hell, any where else you are going to rub. See if you need bothersome blister pads. Like hell. Train. Lots. But don't over do it. Listen to your body. Its a pretty amazing piece of engineering. Train running up hills and especially down those suckers. Read books. As many as you can (Dan, all of his: Born to Run (that's a must) and Chi Running (that will change your life and keep you from seeing the orthopedic surgeon - which is a good thing, they all have too much money anyway). Why? Simple. They have been there and done that. Ask others. Unless they are so pretentious they will be happy to share their experiences. Drink water. Even in cold weather. Dehydration is not your friend. It is as much about your mind as your legs and every other part of your body that can possibly ache. Think about some good quality salt/mineral tablets. Cramps will ruin your day. But don't over do it. And eat. I lost 3 kg doing my first. Oh, and when out on the trail/course look out for each other. And last but by no means: Have FUN!!!!! Score: 0 tothebrink 9:18 AM on September 23, 2010 Great article. I'm running my first ultra next fall, the Tussey Mountainback 50. This is definitely going to help me be prepared! Thanks!

Score: 0 TJ1 8:09 PM on October 25, 2010 Marathoners find that their pace will be much slower than what they project from their marathon times. For beginners in a 50 mile course in the west - you should easily expect to be still working 11 or more hours into it. Let's face it - in the west there are no flat courses. there's no way most beginners are going to average a 10 minute mile pace for 50 miles over a mountainous course. The key here is patience and steady pace even if its slower than you would like. There's so much to learn that's different from running a marathon that there really is no substitute for experience. But once you get it, youre hooked. There's really nothing to compare with the feeling that you have established a base that feels like you could run forever! Score: 2 Steve501161 5:55 PM on October 29, 2010 Hey there, ultrarunners! I'm a mega-marathoner and ran my first 50-mile ultra using this program and, yes, Doug, it works! Effectively and without killing you! The finish time formula was accurate as well. Figured on doing it in 9 hours, and sure enough, ran it in 9 hours. I celebrated my 50th birthday by running a 50-mile ultra! Thanks a million!

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Score: 0 amysangiolo 5:59 PM on February 16, 2011 For the Thursday runs, what does incl. mean? Does it mean "including" so one would run 5-6 miles including the AIs and GPs or does it mean do the AIs and GPs on an "incline" so total mileage is 5-6 plus the Ais and GPs. Score: 0 ne_plus_ultra 2:31 PM on September 1, 2011 I'm using this training plan. Great resource! This is my first ultramarathon but it seems like a plausible/doable progression. So far, so good. The trick has been figuring out pacing for the long runs and disciplining myself to stick to them. I like the variety provided by the tempo runs -- I can see the slow plodding getting to be a bit much around Week 10. Score: 0 Ian Holmes 8:18 PM on April 28, 2012 I like this article. I have "ummed and ah-ed" about doing a 50 miler since my first marathon some 7 years ago. This plan looks like a great resource. It certainly makes everything seem doabe.

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