So, you’ve conquered the marathon distance – what’s next? Some of us would want to hit a better personal best, conquer the elusive sub4 or sub3 mark, but some of us would like to take on a greater distance. Here is a guide to your first 50km. It may sound like just 8km more, but 8km is a lot.
Run While Fatigue
You need to train your legs to run while tired. The long runs are a must – and should at least be 30km in distance. To train your legs to work in a tired state, incorporate a tempo run the day before your long run. This really help simulates the fatigue you will go through in the later stages of your race. Remember the key goal of the workout is to develop your aerobic capacity and enable your legs to handle the distance.
Also, strength workouts are a must. To be able to handle the distance, you basically need to be strong. Incorporate some trail running sessions or pick hilly route to do your long runs on. The strength gained from hill running makes a runner much stronger, and this strength also turns into speed on the flats.
Nutrition And Hydration Needs
Many ultra runners face gastrointestinal problems. This is because blood is drawn away from your digestive system to your working muscles, i.e. your quads or hamstrings. Digestion is interrupted. This causes GI issues that many ultras face, leading to vomiting and diarrhoea. Remember to always try out your nutrition and hydration strategy during training.Make sure you nail it during training and mimic it as closely as possible during a race.
Remember the key is to always eat before you are hungry and drink before you are thirsty to prevent hitting the wall and bonking.
Tune Up Races
It is good to do a couple of tune up races to know where you stand fitness wise. It is also a great opportunity for you to test your racing gear and nutrition strategy for your upcoming ultra. Remember this is a tune up race, not your big race. Don’t go all out. It’s meant to be a training run. Keep your eyes on the prize!
Pacing Is King
Ultra running is a game of patience. If you go out too fast in the first half of the race, you will pay the price for it in the second half of the race. Remember 50km is a very long distance. If you target to average a 5 minute pace, don’t go out at a 430 pace for the first 10km. It’s better to feel comfortable and go faster in the later stages, if you are feeling good. Pacing is really important when it comes to ultras. It is so long that you don’t want to bonk at 42km do you?
Good luck for your first 50km!