How to Run Your First 50K Ultramarathon

The trend of Ultramarathons is getting more and more popular. If you’re planning on running your first Ultramarathon, follow some basic guidelines to include proper training. If you can run a half marathon, you can run a full marathon, if you can run a full marathon, you can run a 50K Ultramarathon, you just need to progress gradually. It’s just a matter of setting your mind to it, letting go of fears and making smart, simple adjustments to your training. You need to adjust your training according to the type of kilometres you run, no major training volume increases.
 
The difference between marathon and Ultramarathon
 
50K Ultramarathons are longer than marathons. Even though a 50K Ultramarathon is only 8K longer than a marathon, it is a very different type of run. In a 50K Ultramarathon, on top of the added distance, you have to deal with some added challenges as well. 
 
– Slower running and increased time on your feet. 
– More elevation
– More intense mental doubts and low points.
– Importance of fueling to keep your energy levels up until the finish line.
 
Making adjustments for Ultramarathon training includes preparing the body and mind for the increased distance, hours, and challenges.
 
How to adjust your training for an Ultramarathon
 

When transitioning from road marathon to a 50K Ultramarathon, you shouldn’t increase your training dramatically, but follow these steps to get started.
 

  1. Train to Run the Trails- Most of the 50K Ultramarathons are on the trail. One of the first step is to train to run comfortably on trails, by getting used to the more technical ground and the uphill and downhill.

Tips:

  • Start by running one or two shorter trail runs per week. After getting more comfortable and stronger, switch to longer and more trail runs.
  • Start with less technical trails to train your feet and stride properly. Build up to more technical trails over time.
  • Once you feel ready, run on a trail that has similar elevation, difficulty and surface as the race course.

 

  1. Slow Down- Training for a road marathon include lots of speedwork. When training for an Ultramarathon the speedwork becomes less of a priority as the longer distance training. Training switches from running fast to learning how to run a slow consistent effort, sustainable for many more hours.

Tips:

  • Keep 75-80% of your runs to an easy pace. You should be running slow enough to be able to sustain a conversation.
  • Use a heart rate monitor to ensure you’re maintaining a slower effort and good pace.
  • When dealing with elevation, reduce your speed on the uphill to a hike to maintain an easy effort.

 

  1. Run Long- Consistent long runs are a major part of any endurance training, but not as important than when you’re training for an Ultramarathon. The long run is the center point of your training, to help you deal with mental fatigue, prepare your body for the 50K race. Slowly increase your distance weekly.

Tips:

  • Long runs on the trail take more time than on the road. Instead of always running for distance, run for time. This will help train your body and mind with more fatigue.
  • To increase weekly distance, for better training, adding a longer run midweek at an easy pace is a great training option.
  • Train for your nutrition, hydration and carry pack.
  • Every 4-5 weeks cut back your running mileage by 20% to allow some recovery, before you pick up again.

 

  1. Train and Plan your Nutrition- For road marathons, the nutrition is simpler, energy gels, water and sports drink. For ultramarathons, you have to focus on energy foods, electrolytes, more natural foods. You need to test different fueling options to see what your body will need and will be happy with.

Tips:

  • To support your energy levels, figure out how many calories your body needs, and focus on carbohydrates. Aim for 200-300 calories per hour.
  • Test your body’s requirements, more energy sport foods or a combination of energy food and real food, and electrolytes or sports drink.
  • Try different fueling options to test your stomach. See what type of food your GI system will be happy with and process easily to avoid any stomach issues.
  • Don’t wait until you start feeling low energy to refuel, once your body is depleted of energy and carbs, you won’t be able to refuel properly while running.

The training transition between road marathons and ultramarathons is not as intense as it seems. We need to focus more on training for endurance and mental strength.

Here’s a great 50K Ultramarathon race: MSIG Summits@Mui Wo https://msig.tgr.run/summits/

Eat Right, Train Well, Feel Great!
 KATIA