Up the long run or increase the next-day run?

I'm training for my first Ultra, just a 50K. I've been basically following the "Run for the Toad" plan, which increases the long run distance one week, then increases the length of the back-to-back (next day) run the next week, then increases the longest run again, so it peaks at 24.85 miles/15.5 Miles. An alternative plan I looked at (ultraladies) maxed the next day run at 10 miles and increases the long run progressively instead, peaking with two weeks of 26M / 10M (with a 10 / 10 weekend in between).

Any recommendations which pattern to follow - stop increasing the second run at 10 miles and keep increasing the long run each time, or the alternating pattern? I'm presently at week five in the RftT schedule and in the middle of a week which will be approx. 0 - 5 - 7.5 - 5 - 0 - 14 - 10, with the longest run taking me about 2 hrs 10 (may be 0 -5 - 7.5 - 5 - 0 - 3.1 - 14 - 10 because I might parkrun this week).



  • To be honest, I really can't see the need for a back to back of that magnitude, afterall, you are only 8k beyond a marathon and the risks of injury are quite high if not used to that sort of thing

    A 50K is (usually) easily achievable off a marathon programme with a couple of extra weeks of 20mile plus long runs and some sensible practice on pacing and nutrition

    Would also advocate hill practice where you can 

  • Or put another way

    Plenty of people doing 100milers would be doing that B2B as a maximum

  • So, top out the second weekend long run at 10 miles, and just keep increasing the long run (with some lower-mileage weeks to reduce the overtraining risks)? That would be easier logistically, as it means I could either run the long run on Saturday by myself then 10 miles with the club on Sunday, or do the club run then keep going to whatever time/distance i'm aiming for on a Sunday, followed by a 10 mile run on a Monday by taking a two-hour lunch break.

    That would give me a basic pattern of 0 - 5 - 7.5 - 5 - 0 - Long - 10  (with variations to allow for occasional parkruns, days when I'm at meetings and can't run, etc.). I could also increase the midweek longish run later if my legs are feeling okay or try for some hill repeats.

    Club runs do tend to incorporate hills (Croydon - okay, only suburban hills, not Lake District type hills, but a fair amount of up and down). Also I'm planning to start taking some of my long runs further out onto hillier trails (which should also be more scenic).

  • So you are probably maxing out at 50miles a week which really is a significant amount of running

    You should be in a good place

    Also remember to have a couple of back to back rest days - I am a huge fan of these - especially if you have done some longish back to backs

  • I love the back to back long runs and used them for my marathon training this tear and it really made a difference......
    i tended to keep the second run to a max of 10 maybe 12..........

    I was also flexible with the schedule....i always said say 8 to 12 miles and then i could see how i felt and i could vary the routes......I didn't ever go running around the block a few times just to make an exact 10 which is what some people end up doing just to stick to a schedule
  • I just survived a 50k (my first ultra) race on marathon training (not all that high mileage- about 40 miles/ wk at peak), then the marathon itself, 2 weeks rest, one back- to back weekend of 17/11miles, then taper. I was slow, but it was fine.
  • veggieboy wrote (see)

    To be honest, I really can't see the need for a back to back of that magnitude, afterall, you are only 8k beyond a marathon and the risks of injury are quite high if not used to that sort of thing

    A 50K is (usually) easily achievable off a marathon programme with a couple of extra weeks of 20mile plus long runs and some sensible practice on pacing and nutrition

    thats what im planning on doing, like you have said VB, its only another 8k so my ultra is going to be based on the back of mara training..and using the mara training ti work out nutrition along the way and recovery methods.

    like seren, if the schedule says 12 and i fancy doing another route which only makes 11.5 , im not going to fret over 0.5 of a mile-running around a housing estate just to make up half a mile isnt my idea of a nice runimage

  • Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm going straight from half-marathon to 50K, for various reasons including, strange though it may seem, avoiding overtraining - by encouraging me to concentrate on stamina, not try to go for speed at the same time as upping the distance, so it's a bit of a leap into the unknown.

    Do I need to go for a walk-run strategy at this distance (I know I need to do that for 50M, but do I need to for 50K, where my long runs are intended to reach 24-26 miles), and if so, when do I start? I'm okay running for two hours or so at present.

  • Hi cragchick, okay, that sounds like a sensible strategy. I'm rather looking forward to reaching the point where I'm heading off on a three or four hour run through the countryside!
  • Debra ive only done 2 HMs but am now aiming for mara and ultra. i too was going to jump straight into ultra but thought id get at least one mara in first just to get an idea of my times...im having to conserve energy by learning to walk up the inclines using them to refuel and jog the downs..this really worked last weekend and i was comfy fo the whole run...i am really enjoying my long runs too Debra. a lot of people tht have asked how far i run have said' oh my god thats so far, you must dread those training runs'...but its the opposite, for me they are the ones i look forward toimage
  • Just thought I would throw this in to the pot re back to backs (B2B).

    I am a great beliver in b2bs, my training plans are always planned around my b2bs.

    However do be careful when using this method as it can easily lead to over training if you are not used to this method. I built this method up over a period of 2 years, and had no injury troubles in this period.

    For a 50K as stated previous, I would not bother with b2bs as there is little benifit to be gained. To be fair its only 5 and a bit miles more than a marathon so a good marathon schedule should be sufficent to see you through (a different ball game if you wish to contend with the lead pack however)

    For 50 mile plus Ultras then the benifit of b2bs start to show there true benifit.

    The main reason for them is to train your body to run on tired legs.

     I like to mix my b2bs up, there is the usual long run followed by a shorter run the next day, there is the 2 long runs of equal distance.

    Or one of my favourites is the short fast 10k / half mara  paced run  in the evening, followed by the long run in the morning this is a very good way of testing your body on tired legs.

    Ultimatley what ever method you use dont forget the rest days this are just as important as the long runs...

  • thank you bret runner, that is really helpful advice. i will remember all of that hopefully..if i get to a 50milerimage...the advice about long-short and then 2 of equal distance is a good one too...as is the HM and then long the following a.m...gratefully recievedimage
  • Thanks for all the advice, which I have taken on board. I enjoyed a nice short parkrun this morning in lovely weather (not very fast today - but then I have been training for distance rather than speed). Long run (2 hrs or so) with the club tomorrow morning and hopefully (work permitting) a 7-8 mile run nice and gently on Monday (with a rest onTuesday).

    Yes, I will remember the rest days, absolutely. I'm keeping at least two days a week as rest days, sometimes three.

  • Debra

     Sounds good to me

    As far as rest days are concerned, even when training for a 100miler, I never run on more than 4 days a week, although at least 2 of those are double run days

  • B2B's form the core of my training plans for anything over 50milers, and stood me in good stead for my 100miler in April this year. I aim to do 2/3rds of Sat's distance on the Sundya run e.g Sat 21mi, Sun 14mi, but this is what works for me, there isn't a one size fits all plan. Main thing is build gradually and have fun.
    Happy Running.
  • I trained for a 50 mile hilly ultra in the Lakes last year and only did one B2B.  I am prone to injury so have to avoid running on consecutive days.  However I was going out to the Chilterns and covering  26-30 miles most weekends.  My B2B was 5 weeks before the ultra when I ran the course, 33 first day and 17 second day - and there was a lot more walking involved for the second day!

    On the day of the ultra I felt great and got round no problem.  So this proves that B2B runs are not necessary for anything up to 50 miles if you just want to get round.

    Having said this I am a middle of the pack finisher so if you are hoping to finish higher up the leaderboard then maybe B2B would be a good idea!

  • Debra

    Just come across this thread and I'm in a similar situation that you were (although I've done 5 road marathons). I know you've moven on some-what now so i'm interested to hear how you would now answer your own original question

  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    What event are you training for? I did my first 50k last yr, had done 4 previous marathons. My training wasn't that much different than my marathon training apart from a couple of longer runs. Also trained on similar terrain to the race.
  • Millsy

    It's the Endurancelife CTS.

    I've done 5 road marathons and very happy with my schedule for that, but have noticed that on many 50K schedules they work on easy day/hard day with more of a focus on the B2Bs

  • DazDaz ✭✭✭

    Sounds like a good plan you're running to.  Another option is to increase the effort of the second day - get used to putting  ore effort into those tired legs.  So you could build to 20-25/10, and then for the next two b2bs you increase the effort/pace on the 10.

    Endurance Coach @ DazCarterFitness.com
    Elite Ironman, Ultra Trail Runner
  • I am hoping to complete my first ultra next summer and have adopted a training plan that goes pretty much like this:

    Saturday (long run) - currently 18km

    Sunday (just run) - currently 10km

    Monday/Tuesday - off

    Wednesday (tempo run) - currently 8-10km

    Thursday (shorter run) currently 8km

    Friday off

    I plan to stick pretty much to this, but gadually increase the distances as we go through the year ... I think the "back to back" effect will help me more.

  • Shoes: sorry, didn't get a "reply posted" e-mail and only just saw this. I was happy I'd done the B2Bs for both my 50K and NDW 50 during 2012, and I would recommend them. I've mostly maxed at c.26-30/c.10 but I've gone to c.30/c15 a couple of times. Not yet tried the "shortish fast run then LSR on tired legs the next day".

    Wiganer: looks like a good schedule. I've been on a roughly similar but five day a week schedule based on short-semi long-short for Tue, Wed Thur then LSR Sat and second run Sun. Sometimes e.g. parkrun or XC on Saturday so LSR Sun and second run Mon, then Tuesday off.

  • Thanks Debra. i've just worked up my schedule with B2Bs but I think I'll do the Sunday one on road (for a change of shoes and surface) Also, I'd started out using the Ultraladies plan as a guide with easy/hard alternate weeks, but felt nervous about that as I'm used to building up for 3/4 weeks then drop down for a week, then build up again.

  • Shoes: Sounds fine (re. 2nd day on tarmac, if thats what's right for you). As for the schedule, if you look at their 50-mile schedule you'll see it's very similar to the 50K training but with a drop-down week every third week, not alternate. So if building for three weeks seems right for you, do it that way. I consider schedules as useful starting points so i don't have to think it all up from scratch, but the more I do, and the more different schedules I see, the less I feel the need to follow one precisely.

    The plans in "Relentles Forward Progress" have a drop-down week every fourth week initially, then every third week, then every other week towards the end. Obviously the idea is to reduce the risk of TMTS injuries, but you know what should work for your body - just err on the side of caution.

  • Hi Debra - at what stage did you start your run/walk strategy ? Like you, I am entered in LB50 in September and that is my first ultra. Before then I am in the Manchester and Lake Coniston marathons.

    So, come the new year, I am starting to increase the mileage on my LSR runs (Saturdays). I am also going to incorporate another longish, approx 10-12 mile run on Sunday. If I started the run/walk strategy now would it interfere with my marathon training i.e. I ideally want to run the marathons without having to walk. I'm just wondering when would be the best time to bring in run/walk as part of my training ?


  • Hi carterusm, I've never used an official walk/run strategy. Kept meaning to try it, but on hilly training run (which is practically all of my long runs) it's simplest just to go for "walk the uphills". Even when training for the London Ultra which was less hilly, my walking/stopping breaks on my 26+ mile training runs were simply when I needed to read the instructions and check where I was on the map (and I had similar stops when following e.g. NDW or Vanguard Way).

    For what you're training for, I'd suggest don't bother with a run/walk strategy unless you really feel you need it. Note: from my experience those Sunday runs are going to feel tough, particularly at first; you may want to start them at 6-8 miles and work up to 10-12 - and expect them to be slow.

    For Thames Trot, which is much flatter than NDW etc., I'm thinking I probably ought to try a 25 mins/5 mins run/walk strategy on the day, and should try that out beforehand on a training run, but I've not yet had the opportunity(!) - maybe this coming weekend if my ankle is more comfortable and I decide to go for a 20+ mile run (I did about 17.5 yesterday, so I'm hopeful).

  • Hi Debra - as you know I'm in the ladybower 50. I can't remember if you've run this one before or not but it isn't particularly hilly (if you recall I had a run round ladybower and got lost when I took a detour and it was you who suggested I might want to consider an ultra image ). I don't want to get caught into the trap of trying to run the whole distance as that could lead to me blowing up and possibly not being able to carry on. So I guess it might be just a case of stopping/slowing down to eat and drink. The day after I ran ladybower I did a 10 miler and, as you say, it was really hard going. Time to re-introduce some more back to backs I think ! You only mention your training runs, what strategy did you adopt on your first 50 miler, a deliberate run/walk or as and when you felt like it ? Hope your ankle is better soon image
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