Minimum Training Requirements for a 50K Ultra Marathon

Unlock the Secrets to Successfully Preparing for a 50K Ultra Marathon

With Coach Kelvin, Online Running Coach for We Run and the We Run Virtual Running Club, and 1:1 Running Coach for Leeds and surrounding areas

Hi folks. It’s Coach Kelvin here. In this video, I’d like to share some thoughts on a question that I get asked on a fairly regular basis; what is the minimum amount of training that I can do for a 50K?

Understanding the Minimum Training for a 50K Ultra Marathon

The question is, what is the minimum amount of training that I can do for a 50K? For people venturing into ultras, it does depend on quite a few things, but there are some guidelines that I use when I’m helping people choose events to ensure that the event fits into the runner’s life in terms of time and is something the runner can handle physically, stress-wise, to complete a 50K race. So, let’s dive into a rough guide.

I’ve outlined this guide in the notes for the video, so you can see it in detail. But to give you an overview, to complete a successful 50K, four runs a week would be a minimum. It’s very difficult to drive fitness off three runs a week for an ultra, unless that runner has the ability to do three substantial midweek runs.

Practical Training Approaches for Ultra Marathons

From a practical standpoint, four runs a week are optimal, and there are a couple of ways to approach this. It depends on whether the runner has time to train both days at the weekend or needs a day free. For one run at the weekend, we’re probably looking at a couple of midweek runs around 10K and a midweek run around 14K, then a weekend long run, progressing from 16 to 30K.

This is for the 12 weeks that precede the taper. These are the numbers we want to be getting somewhere near, which is roughly 50 to 64K overall. Another way to do this, if the runner has more time on the weekend, is to do two midweek runs of around 10K, then progress a longer run on the weekend from 14 up to about 26K and the following day, do another slightly longer run, so a sort of 12 to 14K. This would give us 46 to 60K throughout the three training blocks, or the three four-week blocks.

Important Considerations for Long-Distance Event Training

Another few things that are quite important to bear in mind when planning longer distance events and looking at how much time you’ve got to train. Most people respond better to a long run every other week rather than every week. So within that, we’re probably looking at doing the longer runs on the build week one and the build week three in a four-week block. We’re looking at three, four-week blocks, and the longest workout in that block is likely to be on the build week one of the second block.

Final Stages of Preparing for an Ultra Marathon

The last block of training, the last four weeks before the taper, is not a time to start driving more fitness. It’s about putting the finishing touches, dialling in hydration, nutrition, kit, and all of those things. Remember, the long run is unlikely to be every week. It’s more likely to be every other week, on the build week one and the build week three. When we get to 12 weeks out from the taper, the longer run should be done when our legs are the freshest. We don’t want to be building fatigue throughout the training block. We want to hit the toughest workout on the build week one, then a mid-length run on the build week two, and then a longer run on the build week three, but not something as stressful as the one on the build week one.

I hope that makes some sense. If you’ve got any questions, please just get in touch. And for now, Happy Running!

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