Thames Trot 50 Training

Hi - i am thinking about my first ultra in early Feb, the 50 miler from Oxford to Henley. I have done two ironmen, the latest in April this year so am used to endurance training and racing.  My longest runs over the last 3 months though have been only up to 13 miles, though i am comfy at that distance.  I did the oxford half in 1.44 and my ironman marathon time is 4.28.  

Do you guys things I can get up to distance by February and still finish in under 11 hours?  I would hope to run a stand alone marathon in about 3.50 given my pace, so the runners world article on first ultras suggests double your time and add two hours which gives me under 11 hours, but it also says i need to be comfy doing 18 milers every weekend which i havent been.

Too much too soon?

Also wondering if anyone uses long bikes for cardio conditioning to replace some long running in ultra training as its easier on the body but still gets you good endurance...  ??

thanks from a newbie



  • HI Laura

    Personally I'd say yes, you can do it - but then i'd ignore the RW training plan anyway...

    TT is very flat, so it's much more of a running course (which is the one thing i'm concerned about, I like hilly ultras with built in walking breaks and nice runs back down!) which will probably suit you down to the ground.

    I would say have a look at a few online training plans ( is one of the more favoured ones by a few people on here) but then remember that a schedule is only a guide. To be honest I did a 30m and a 60m event this year on less training than I should have, a lot of ultra running is mental strength, and if you're a multiple ironman I'd think you'd have a fair bit of that!

    Also, I'd say try to do a lot of your running off road if you can - it will build strength up, both muscular and joints, and is a damn sight more fun than slogging along a rock hard stretch of poxy tarmac (can you guess i'm a trail runner?!)

    Cross training on a bike will certainly help - but I wouldn't replace a long run with it - you need the long runs more than anything to develop the sensation of running for that long, of what it's like to be on your feet for that period of time (and to get used to carrying your kit etc, making sure you're trainers fit etc) - there's a big difference between being on your feet for 5 hours and being on them for 10...


    Just a quick answer - for more info or advice just ask - or head over to the Wannabe thread on this page, although most of us on there are now ultrarunners it's still full of advice (and lots of madness LOL)

  • Look at the Ultraladies 50 mile programme and see how far behind you are on that. With your background, you've obviously got a good endurance grounding, which might help, but at the same time you don't want to increase your distance too much too soon... Might be better to aim for a 30-35 miler in February and a 50-miler later in the year?

    As an example, I went from two HMs last October to 50K in mid-February this year, with my first 50M in early August (NDW) via a marathon end of April and a 30-miler in July. Don't think I would have wanted to increase my mileage much more rapidly than I did.

  • This is going to be my first ultra too. I was planning on following my normal mara plan but just extending the long run element to about 30 and then crossing my fingers and praying on the day! I'm a sub 3 marathoner but this is a whole new ball game so a finish within the time is a great result as far as I'm concerned. I chose this as a mate who is an experienced ultra runner said it was a perfect intro as its flat and the fuel stations are great so you don't need to carry much. Given your ironman background you have the mental and physical strength to get round i think. Good luck and if you're up for it then happy to share training on here - I'm pretty terrified by the prospect!
  • great replies already thanks - always knew ultra runners were a friendly bunch! am on the verge of signing up ...  yes am a bit scared of increasing the mileage too far too soon. The RW plan looks a bit heavy for now ramping up to two long runs already one of 3 hours and one of 4 hours...  might need to make my own schedule...  Baljc yes please to sharing training.  You will have to learn to slow down which isnt a problem for meimage Also if there is anyone in oxford that wants to share long runs let me know!  

  • If you will be content not to run the whole thing then I think you'll be fine Laura given your Ironman and marathon experience.  Certainly I've done it on not much more than that in 10 hours. As its so flat its pretty forgiving and even tired its possible to maintain some sort of pace. If you are currently comfy at 13 miles then you should easily get up to an 18-20something long run. That's a start and maybe  also work on time on your feet by long days (5-10 hour) walking or mixing walking and running .

    I'm currently up to 9 miles long run and have been pondering revisiting this little gem of an event image but currently focused on "speed image work (5k)" and suspect its a bridge too far for me as I only plan to start ramping distance in January image.

  • Iron man triathletes generally make good pretty good ultra runners.  Your half and full marathon times on their own, in my eyes, would bracket you as a person who could step up to this event. 

    A person who can run a 4 hour marathon can usualy complete this event in 9 hours, using a run walk strategy.  When I ran it as my first 50 miler, I had a marathon PB of 4.02. 

    The 11 hour time limit is not set in stone.  It is there so that the marshals don't have to stay out until midnight, but they are usually taking in finishers long after. 

  • Laura, I've just entered this one as my first ultra (albeit off the back of marathon training). I'd agree that you should be fine doing this on the basis of your other endurance training - just increase the long runs slowly, not necessarily following a particular plan. I suspect that you'll be fine to do it in under 11 hours, whilst leaving scope for improvement if you run another one some months (or a year or two) later.

    I also live in Oxford so might be interested in joining you for the occassional long run. However, as I have childcare issues, I often set off for runs (even at weekends) before 5am and I know that most people wouldn't like to do that!

  • laura im agreeing with Debs on this one-although you have good base to build on i think trying to ramp up the miles in time for TT may be too much too soon. TT is barely into Feb so id say you need to be confident that you can do the mileage by Jan really in time to taper for 2 weeks perhapsimage .

    added to that , not only are you having to deal with the mileage but getting used to carrying kit,and refuelling yourself whilst on the run. all these take practise and time. similar to Debs id only done as far as HM distance this time last year then first ultra was 35miles (may) and 50miler was August.  may be less pressure on yourself to do a 30/35 miler first then leave the 50 for better weather and spring time maybe. there are plenty out there to choose fromimage 

  • So there you have it Laura.

    1. Either you'll successfully ramp up your training miles or prang something trying
    2. Either extending from Ironman to running  11 hours will be a breeze or a disaster
    3. Either you will find carrying a rucksack full of jelly babies light work or it will drag you down like a lead brick
    4. You'll either find following all the Thames Path signs easy peasy or get lost and spend an hour wandering around in the dark
    5. You'll either take in your stride running 50 miles through ankle deep mud, knee deep snow and waist deep water no problem after racing marathon's or really rather hard work.

    As you can see there are mixed opinions here! Maybe the forum should vote on whether you should go for it or not?

  • imageimagelol muddling

  • Ha ha thanks for the summary muddling! If i could leave registration for the race til end dec then i would just see how my long runs are doing by then... But i fear it will fill up... The alternative is to be sensible and do a spring marathon then a later ultra... But i want a challenge, and havent yet found something big and juicy for 2013. Running the whole 180 miles thames path in a week maybe??

    Lemony, where are you in oxford? I am ox2 not far from port meadow and thames path...
  • laura, im just outside of Oxford towards Bicester and i know where Port Meadow isimage

  • Lemony, i have a daughter so have the same childcare/juggling training,work issues too and i DO like early runs!! last winter i was up and setting off as it was barely light for my LSRs-so if you need another female to join you or to make dark runs easier let me know! i plan on doing night runs/in dark now too, are you planning any?

  • Laura as you can see from the replies here you can see what the varied opinions are like, if you're of reasonable fitness, and being an ironman I'd say you're of more than reasonable fitness, then this shouldn't present much of a problem. You could near enough walk this in 11 hours if you stayed at a consistent pace.

    The only person who can say whether you could do this with any degree of certainty is you, by all means consider info re training, nutrition and injury prevention but the only person who can answer the question as to whether you're capable of running it is you
  • Lirish is right: we're all talking from our own experience, or the experiences of other people we know. We don't know your present fitness level, nor how fast you can ramp up mileage. You clearly have a good fitness base, so go for it if you want! Or find a shorter spring ultra and a 50-miler later in the year.

  • Just do it...

  • laura watson 10 wrote (see)
    But i want a challenge, and havent yet found something big and juicy for 2013. Running the whole 180 miles thames path in a week maybe??
    Please don't do this! Britain is full of wonderful, varied trails you could spend a week running - the Thames Path isn't one of them! Seriously, it's so boring. I tried to tell this to my friend earlier in the year but he wouldn't listen and did it anyway, now he agrees!
    If you're unsure whether you are ready then the good thing about the Thames path is it's incredibly easy to do self supported runs on it. From Oxford to Henley you have many shops for food at Abingdon, Wallingford, Goring and Reading. Locks are regularly spaced 5-10 miles apart and pretty much all have a tap you can use to fill bottles, toilets, and some even have cafes too.
  • loulabell and lemony i like getting the runs in early as poss too, also have 2 kids and like to see the family on weekends...  at the moment am running 630 to 730 most mornings, getting back in time to get me and everyone sorted for school etc.. almost entirely in the does make for towny tarmac runs though as i havent been brave enough to get out on a trail/unlit paths yet, especially alone.  It just doesnt feel smart, that.  So we are all jugglers!  whats the best way for us to coordinate?  i am away the next 2 weekends but then back - 

    shawk, thats a good point about the thames path perhaps i should look further afield like the coast to coast or the new wales coastal path....  

    i know cycling isnt the same as runningimage but will test my fitness with a mega bike ride on saturday if the weather holds and if that feels easy then i will just do it i think.  I may be last!

    thanks all


  • Evening all. Good to see people talking about TT, I think I'll be doing it. I'm behind on the schedule as well, also having maxed at 13 milers recently, but managed a 20 miler a few days ago which felt ok, and suspect (provided the injuries stay away) it will be do-able. "Just do it" seems like a planimage

  • NID !!!!!!! how are you?? long time no post image*waves frantically*

  • Stick with the Thames Trot Laura - I've done lots of stuff in the hills and on the coast and love that kind of stuff but the TT is a nice event. Local for you (me also actually) Flat is good when you start into ultra  and its a fine course. The Thames is stunning in nice weather.  It also has the benefit you can train over the course if you want. Getting lost is a possibility (remarkably) and finishing in the dark is likely if you are slow so worth checking out the later stage if possible.

  • idly checked on the sign up page and panicked when it said no further entries accepted, so entered on the RW website which went through, then after that the race website was accepting entries again... weird...  but it made me realise i do want it image  see you there !

  • see yo there Laura if not beforeimage

  • Hey LLB, long time indeed... Been doing this n that but mostly working too much I'm afraid... Anyhow back trotting happily now, lost 7Kg's in the last few months and raring to go! This talk of places filling up is spooking me. Must have a peek....
  • go do it NID !...see you there?image

  • So how much can i count a good fast walk against weekly mileage for ultra prep?
  • Not much if its just to the shops and back image

    As someone else said - time on feet is important - longer is good but you have to balance against risk of injury. If you interspace with walking you can probably go longer. Its really so personal - we can all say what works for us but it may not work for you - there are lots of training strategies. Get to 5 hours on your feet walking where necessary is my advice.

    If you intend to walk some then experiment with run walk strategies. On the Thames path its easy to stick with what you choose as the hills don'ty throw you off your timing. People use different intervals - google around for examples. I used to use 25/5 run/walk gradually dacaying to 15/15 run walk eventually ending at 100/100 walk walk. Some like 4/1 run walk - there are lots of options.

    When I've been injured I've found value in just walking 25 miles at maximum speed. But watch out you end up with with new walking injuries - its not the same leg action and the blister points are different too.image

    One of the draws of this game is that its a matter of learning what works. Test the eating bit too! Actually test everything!




  • Hello all!  Thought I'd check into this forum, as I entered TT a few weeks ago.  I've done five marathons, Beachy Head 4 days ago most recently.  That felt like an ultra, with the wind!  But lots of fun.

    I've been chatting to the ultra runners at my club, who recommend doing some long back to backs (eg 20m each), rather than really long training runs (eg 30+).

    I'm in Bath, not Oxford, so rather envious of these long runs planned in the forum!

    Anyway, I'll just get on with increasing mileage, happily eating and running comes easily to meimage, and I'm used to carrying a pack etc.

    Any other good tips from the others who have done it before?


  • Hi LLB and Laura,

    I haven't checked in for a while (too busy at work to spend any time on the forums). My early mornings during the week are really early (4:30am starts), but it would be good to meet up for the occasional long run at the weekend. I'm right next to the river in the centre of Oxford so not too far from Laura and easy to find for LLB (or anyone else).

    I tend to run on the road during my early morning runs (for safety's sake), so I definitely need to do some off-road running whenever it's light.


  • 4.30am's pretty impressive. I shall consider my 5am a lie inimage

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