Help! thoughts & advice

Firstly the ultra section has made interesting reading for me of late, I've signed up for london2brighton in May. Guess I'm really looking for guidance & confidence boosting, ive run a few 1/2m, a few 15m trail races.But nothing longer. I feel reasonably capable at running 40 miles a week, & back to back 15 milers over the weekend, I'm slowly increasing my long run 20 miles last Saturday, and keeping the weekly mileage increasing too.. Where do I really need that long run mileage to get too before the event? I keep trying to slow my pace, although constantly get home to discover it might have felt that way out on the trails, but actually I'm still doing the same time per km... Is running 5.30kms too quick?! ( I know it must be)! Many more questions on fueling, wha to carry etc.. But just appreciate the opportunity to start a dialogue with people who actually done these distances..


  • Hi Marcus, everyone you ask is going to give a different answer, but before my first 50-miler I reached B2Bsof 30+12 and 29+15. I basically tried to follow the Ultraladies 50 mile training plan:  - there are others linked from . Obviously they vary - choose one which seems right and adapt as necessary, but they should give you a broad idea of what you need to be doing.

    Don't forget to practice hydrating and eating and carrying the backpack you'll wear on the day.

    As for speed, I don't work in km, only miles. After a rough calculation... depends on your speed for other distances!

    And don't forget to enjoy it!

  • Thanks for the feedback Debra

    On my long runs I've started testing out which pack to wear, minimalist and restock at 50k or just keep it light and carry what I want for the day?!

    On hydration, I'm 'learning' but keep testing the water so to speak, should I drink anything but water? Isotonic etc... fuelling is interesting, tried & tested gels, so that's a little starter, tried jam sandwich in soldiers which worked, rice pudding was OK, but that's as far as I've progressed so far.. Any favourites I should try out?

    Speed wise, 40min 10k, 1.38 HM, so tracking up from there, and trying to keep thinking its 3 times my longest run...

    I'm really enjoying the training, so having fun and enjoying the day is a must. But would still love someone to say it should take you xxxx long...
  • I'm at about the same stage as you I guess - My first Ultra is April, SDW 50. My longest run to date is marathon distance x-country. And I have slightly less time than you before my race.

    I'm slowly upping my pace and I intend my longest training run to be 35 miles, two weeks prior before I start winding down and looking after myself. So I'm doing double my longest run.

    I can't give you any advice, but I wish you teh very best of luck and if you keep recording your progress here, I'll keep an eye on it.


  • Good to know I'm not alone then snap! Good luck to you too, I will add something every week or so, and hopefully so of the more experienced souls will add there wisdom.. Do you have any expectation on your finish time? And what was you marathon X/C time if you don't mind me asking?image
  • On the day go out really slow. Let everyone overtake you. By half way into the run you should have plenty in hand and you can start moving up through the field. Ultras are run more in your head than your legs. Overtaking others will give you a far bigger boost later in the race. If you  crash and burn on an ultra the cause can almost always  be traced back to overrunning in the early stages. 

     Its not the length of an ultra that matters its your pace!!!

    Your first ultra will be a massive learning curve  Run your own race and  enjoy your self. Don,t set yourself an expected finishing time.

    As the ultras you run get longer you will realise that marathon times don,t count for much any more.

    One word of warning . Shorter ultras attract sometimes 50% first timers. You will all rush off too fast assuming that you are the only novice and  must be running this fast cos everyone else is. Seek out a knackered old tatty runner at the start  , ask what they have done then watch and learn.

  • Marcus: For hydration, best thing I've found (for me) is Elete - just concentrated electrolytes (minerals) which you add to water - nothing for your stomach to object to, no artificial sweeteners or flavourings to leave a nasty taste in your mouth. I have a 25 mL bottle which I keep in my backpack, and now buy the much larger (cheaper per mL) bottles to refill it. I have been known to squeeze some into my mouth neat when I was feeling suddenly tired.

    Food: I like Kendal mint cake for instant energy (lot cheaper than gels, and pure sugar + mint oil - nothing for your stomach to object to, really), also malt loaf (that's popular with a lot of people), fig rolls, pretzels for savoury. On longer runs I'll even take sandwiches (I found cheese wraps were great in the middle of NDW50 last year). Really it's whatever works for you.

    Your speed is probably okay, but I wouldn't go any faster. I'm a bit slower than you (10 K 45.30, HM 1.40, 20 mile 2.47, Marathon 3.47) and try to do my long runs at about 9-10.30 mins/mile, but I get slower on hilly trails and longer runs (25+ miles). Don't worry if you find yourself a lot slower on some of the long runs - terrain, footing and temperature all affect speed.

  • Ian you seem a knowledgable man? Thank you for your advise, I have a feeling my major challenge is my chase mentality, I will catch you as fast as I can!! But I did try the tortoise approach on my training run on Saturday and I think the other runner thought I was stalking them!

    So a training run update from the weekend from me;

    Sat = 15miles/2.05

    Sun= 17miles/2.18

    I've decided I'd like to get upto 25/30mile single run by the end of Feb... But it's the old time and commitments balancing act, something 2x2hour sessions just works... Will I cope with the event on back to back training alone?
  • Marcus, it sounds silly and probably foolhardy, but I ran the xc marathon on a bit of a whim, entering really late in the day and leaving myself no time for training. My only specific training run was a 20 miler xc to give myself a bit of confidence.

    Time was 4:30 and the race was the fairly tough Greensand Marathon which packs in the same elevation as the SDW50 but in half the distance. My average HM time on the same type of terrain is 1:50. I'm aiming to complete in 9 hours. Like Debra and Ian say, I'm going out slow but I aim to maintain that pace throughout. I just hope my Garmin holds out another few months!

    I'm looking at making my own electrolytic drinks and energy bars. there are loads of easy recipes around. I like Clif bars but they're expensive and I like to do this stuff on a shoestring (less for my partner to complain about!).

    I have a fairly gruelling training schedule between now and the end of March but I heard it said 'better undertrained than overinjured' - so I'm going to live by that mantra and try not to take too many risks.

  • ...and debra, thanks for the training plan suggestion. I'm guessing it's not too gender-specific. image

  • Your chase mentality can work up to marathon length runs but beyond that pushing hard early will lead to burn out. Many novice 50milers take almost twice as long on the second 25 as the first. Crawling the last mile with everyone else overtaking you is just not nice. Think fun not time. When you do find yourself running/chatting with others then keep with the group you were about to overtake don,t try to keep up with a group overtaking you.

    . Nutrition on ultras is a very personal thing but most of us find we switch from wanting sweet foods to craving salty foods. Personally I carry baby bell cheeses and mini peperamis with Cliff shock blocks for raw energy. If you don,t like energy gels ( and I mean really like them not just tolerate them!) then find something else you fancy to eat. 

    As for training plans I never really do them. I run when work/home will allow, try to maintain a good level of fitness and try to get it right on the day. I will never win races but I will finish and hopefully  have learned how to do that faster next time. Getting better at race tactics is far more important than the training I do. Thats why you will learn so much on your first ultra.

    ps stalking is good!

  • I'll agree about the pacing - NDW50 I was 40th overall at half way, and 18th overall at the finish - so I felt I'd managed a "relative negative split" and that felt good - and I had enough energy to push on and speed up a bit in the last few miles where the terrain allowed, and that felt good as well.

    I'll also second the bit about wanting savory foods as time goes on. I'll be taking a cheese wrap with me for TT50 and maybe a vege hotdog sausage or two as well.

    I do think training plans are useful, particularly when starting, to give you an idea of approx the amount of training to do - if only on the basis of "well, the plan said I needed to do this, and I've done that, so I should be able to get round."

  • Walk the first 1/2 mile to ensure you are dead last, you will then only improve your race standing. image

    As you slowly start to pass people count them and you can roughly work out what postion you're in.

    It's a great motivator in the last half of a race.

  • Actually I had no idea what position I was in on NDW50 - I only found out my placings afterwards (okay, a few people started saying I was second woman and stuff, but I didn't believe them). Because the NDW100 people had set off before us, I passed quite a few people in the second half, but generally didn't know whether they were 50 or 100 runners. Also, I did lots of leapfrogging with other runners, and didn't really notice if/when they stopped coming past me again.

    Snap! No, no gender specificity for the training plan! 

  • Hi Marcus - if you can run a 10k in 40 mins - I'd have thought a sub 90 Half was on the cards ? These two times look a bit out of synch ? Have you not run a half for a while, or are you under trained for half distance, or are a lot of your runs turning out to be suited to 10k running ?

    If you go up from there - you'd underperform at marathon, and your ultra would be worse still, unless you get the big runs in.

    Your 15 and 17 mile runs seem a bit too fast to me.

    My 20 mile runs for marathons work out at about 9 mins per mile.

    You're running at 8 minute miles but that would be your marathon race pace I guess. I think you need to slow these runs down, or you'll risk burn out and underperforming. Especially doing them on consecutive days ?
  • Cougie in 2012 I ran 1x10k race, 1x HM & 1x 15m hilly relay (solo), trained and being building my miles slows since sep/oct time.. So I'm an inexperienced racer, but feel great after my weekend back to backs, no niggles, legs fine to run around after my 17m old boy, weekday (evening) running is sociable and keeps my legs going

    Ivenot run a marathon, but thinking of tagging Brighton into my training schedule 6/7 weeks before the 100k is that a good idea? Only concern is ill want to set a time, not use it as training!?
  • I'd probably not. You'll lose training time.

    Two weeks tapering down and then there's the recovery period after.

    If it was a training run it would be fine but not to race it ?
  • Agree with cougie, by all means run the marathon but do it without a taper and without adjusting your training programme afterwards, you've never ran a marathon so whatever you run will be a pb, there's absolutely no harm in having a soft one you can work on in the future
  • Marcus, I think your bigger problem will be getting a place on the Brighton Marathon. I believe it's all wrapped up bar the charity places. I'm running a marathon this weekend, xc from Worthing to Arundel and back. And I don't even have to enter. Game on.
  • I'm running London to Brighton for Great Olmond Street Hospital, they have places for the Brighton Marathon, and my fundraising will hopefully cover both!

    My plan is to try a slow 3.30/4 hours Saturday morning, and see where it takes me and what distance I cover (hopefully 22miles plus)
  • Sorry to just jump in guys but I couldn't help but notice about Brighton. I have just been told about a small charity called MACS who have a couple of places available and minimum target is only 200.

    May be of interest to someone.
  • Keep meaning to update this thread, but concerned the abuse might fly, but hey ho...

    So I've reached my first training goal, last Sunday I did a 27 miler, obviously self supported, felt good after, even had the energy to take the little one down to the park (slowly), put a time of 3.44 on the clock, so now ready to break that when I decide to enter a marathon...

    But training for the 100k in now the focus, plans to run Brighton M are off, thanks to your thoughts etc... This week I did a 4miler Monday & 7 miler Wednesday, and plan the plan is to target 50k this weekend, then have a few weekends of back to backs probably 20m/20m, throught to Easter. Then aim for 2 consecutive weekend 50k plus...

    If the event is 25th May, what should a tapering plan look like?

    Cheers people appreciate your thoughts, experience and guidance..
  • Marcus, well done on the 27-miler - now you're an ultra-runner! image And that's a good time - you're a faster runner than I am! The planned back-to-backs sound great, but don't forget to have the occasional drop-down weekend - much less risk of overtraining injuries.

    Everyone tapers differently. Plans usually offer either two or three weeks of taper. I suggest that you (a) look at the plans; (b) check your training records regarding which taper lengths have worked for you for your previous races.

  • Hands up there Debra, I will go look at some plans. Regarding previous tapers, I've never really thought about it or followed a training plan or probably every tapered for previous races.. Ohps...

    I do however like the "now your an ultra-runner!" Statement, although I will only claim that on the 25th May, when I have finished and have the t-shirt/medal or what ever you get, alongside the ecstatic feeling, sore legs and probably blisters
  • Marcus well done on the training week, sounds like everything is coming together nicely.

    Be wary though of running to plan every week, there's a tendency for those new to running to download plans from the Internet and to think they're the way to go for every distance. Unfortunately they don't take into account you, your history, fitness, abilities or conditioning and they're really only worth it as a guideline for people who are a little lazy and let the internet do their thinking for them.

    Don't be afraid to change around things to suit both your lifestyle and how you feel that day, there's likely more harm that good to be done pushing yourself on a tempo session when you're worn out and a bike ride would be far more beneficial. If you like Google Rpi with regards to physical exercise, there's a blog by ultra stu (Millsy)which explains a little more but essentially it's training with your body's rhythms rather than slavishly to a plan.

    Oh and you're a runner now, same as you were yesterday and hopefully the same as tomorrow, distance is irrelevant and only for thoSe who delight in telling others about their ultras.

    As for the taper experience will tell you what works for you, listen to your body and you'll be fine
  • Lirish, I made the plan up myself so I'm happy to change an adapt it accordingly, depending on the weather, week at work, commitments with family and friends etc..

    Are you telling me I'm not aloud to be a little bit proud about small achievements? I'm not the sort of person to boast I've run 5k for charity or the like, but achievements for 1 person are not always match to those of others if that makes sense?! And I was extremely happy to have broken the training barrier down on route..
  • Marcus that's absolutely not what I'm saying, what I'm saying is the distance doesn't define you, it's not ultra or nothing, I'm a runner, whether it's a 5k pb the UTMB I'm proud of them all
  • Maybe this needs a little Expanding to be clear about what I mean. I think people in general, not just us as runners, define themselves a little too much by the standards of others and find a little too much validation in that.

    I think some find more pleasure in telling others they're ultra runners than they actually do in running them. And please don't think this is directed at you, it's just me putting some thoughts on paper. It's like there's a ladder of running kudos and ultras are somewhere near the top. It's like ' oh you're an ultra runner, you must be so fit, I only run marathons' oh ' look at me, I'm so mad, I'm an ultra runner'

    For me it's about finding the pleasure in the challenge and enjoying the outdoors, I'm incredibly proud of some of my shorter runs, as proud as I am of the longer runs. Take pride in the achievement, whatever it happens to be
  • have you done UTMB? I've just had a look at it that looks the nuts...
  • I did the CCC the year before last and I'm doing the UTMB this August, the CCC for me was incredible, an awesome race through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world
  • I salute you, I haven't been down that way for 10 years, but have spent time both winter and summer in the area, truly stunning..
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