Training for 50 miles

My first proper foray into this section of the forum...  I have finally been brave enough to enter the ultra I've been nattering about doing for years - and rather scarily I am now in the Lakeland 50, and am panicking a little!  I know there's plenty of time, I'm just not sure how to approach the training.  I'm a fairly ok marathon runner, and happy running 60 odd miles a week in training (much more than that will be difficult with time constraints).  I think what I'm intending to do is a P&D marathon training plan for London which is about 3 months before LL50, then add in a few 30+ runs and back to back longer ones afterwards - does that sound reasonable, or should I be running back to backs earlier?  What do I do the rest of the week, is there any value in shorter ones or should I just aim to do as many long slow miles as possible?  

I keep being told by people I know that you don't need to do any more than marathon training to do ultras... but the people in question have rarely finished the ultras they have done so I'm a little reluctant to take their advice  :D


  • On your last point, I think your friends are right - you needn't do more than marathon training (and I do finish my ultras :-) ). For instance, I just did 100k/14 hours on the Thames, and the training for this wasn't materially different than what I'd do for a marathon. A couple of back-to-back days for longer runs, but I don't think total mileage was much higher. Your proposed training looks sensible to me.

    Look at it this way - for serious marathon training, for most of us the limit is what our body can take without getting injured. Just because you're now training for an ultra, it doesn't mean your body is suddenly capable of ramping up mileage in training much faster.

    Disclaimer - not a coach, personal experience only, you may be younger and more resilient than me!
  • You sound like you're in a good space. A marathon plan that's worked for you, then 2-5 26+ mile, or better, 5-6 hour plus outings, testing your kit, nutrition etc. would work well. And navigation. If you are at all bad at it, get good, because "lost in the Lakes" is gonna suck.

    For speedwork, substitute hill work on occasion, including practicing hiking. Or on more than occasion. That's a lot of climbing in the front half of that race but it doesn't let up, so you'll need climbing and descending legs throughout.

    There's a saying that the first half of an ultra is the legs and the second half is the head. Holds true in my opinion. You don't need to run a race distance before the race, but knowing that you can run a marathon distance easily, and then some, then go about your day like normal is a powerful mental boost.
  • Debra BourneDebra Bourne ✭✭✭
    edited October 2019
    Madbee: Lakeland 50 is great, but rather different from a road marathon. Go on the recce days if you can - that helps a lot with navigation on the day. 60 miles a week is fine for training for ultras, but remember that you are going to be WALKING a lot of this race. Practice time-on-feet: I don't know what your marathon time is, but think of tripling it for your finish time at this one. You need to get out for long days of running and walking, preferably hill walking - LL50 has more than 3000m of ascent and descent, including a final climb and long descent in the last 5 miles, in the dark. Back-to-back long runs are also good. LOTS of hill training, including lots of practicing DOWNHILLS. Strngthen your quads. 
    Also, you need to find trail shoes suitable for rocky and muddy trails, and get used to running in those, and practice running with a backpack containing all the compulsorary kit and a litre or more of water, and practice eating (real food) while out running - flapjacks, sandwiches, fruit, biscuits, crisps etc.
    Find a couple of shorter hilly ultras (say 35 miles) and complete those. A huge amount of finishing this will be mental as much as physical.
    (I've done LL50 twice and nearly 70 ultras total, including e.g. NDW50, SDW100, Ridgeway 86, so I am speaking from experience).

  • I read an article in Women’s Running mag - was an interview with an ultra runner who said her ultra training wasn’t materially different from standard marathon and her longest training run was 20.5 miles. Lots of other structured training during the week tho...
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