My plan, which I’ll get to in a second, isn’t super-duper mileage heavy as far as 50K training plans go. The weekly mileage ranges from 33 to 51 miles, and my longest run will be a trail marathon in June. So, it’s not that much more intense than the training I did for Marine Corps Marathon…which I’ve been told is pretty much about right (i.e., that 50K training basically the same as marathon training with longer long runs).
However, I’ve been lagging behind on base building. My original goal was to hit 25 miles per week (mpw) for January, then build to 30 mpw in February, and get to 35 mpw in March — keeping my runs slow and aerobic. Despite my best intentions, my weekly mileage kept stalling out in the low 20’s for most of January and February. The one positive development is that, since switching to afternoon runs in Berkeley, where hills are unavoidable, my fitness seems to be improving rapidly. For instance, after 2 weeks of running in Berkeley, I ran my usual neighborhood loop with an average pace 30 seconds per mile faster at the same heart rate! So, the hills have been a great, though tiring, stimulus.
This week will also be a struggle (same story, different week) because the GR and I are going to Tahoe with my new colleagues. (Can I still say “new” even if I’ve been working here for 5 months now?) I’m not sure I’ll get a run in on Saturday, but we should be back early enough on Sunday for me to go on a decent trail run (i.e., ~10 miles). Since I’m not sure about my weekend mileage, I’ve been trying to pile up the weekday miles, adding a run on Wednesday morning to my usual Tuesday/Thursday runs. I figure I better start getting used to running 5 days a week sooner rather than later, since that’s what my training plan calls for.
My plan for the rest of the base building goes something like this:
- Week of March 9th: 30 mpw
- March 16th: 30-35 mpw/5x a week
- March 23rd: 35 mpw/5x a week
- March 30th: 35 mpw/5x a week
- April 6th: 1st week of official training!
I’m also participating in a friend’s 30-day plank challenge. We’re currently only at 40 seconds, but on day 30, we’re supposed to do a 5-minute plank!! Egads. Part of the reason I agreed to do it is because I’ve been TERRIBLE about committing to any kind of core workout. I thought this might get me on the right path at the very least, even if I don’t nail a 5-minute plank at the end.
Moving on to the training plan! How did I come up with this plan? (How did I get in this nutshell?) Two main sources: Google and Hal Koerner’s Ultramarathon Guide. The most useful training plan I found online was EB’s plan for her first 50K. I think a good training plan should look doable, but also scare you a little bit, and that’s how I felt when I looked at EB’s plan. Hal Koerner’s plan scared me A LOT, but also emphasized the importance of balancing weekday to weekend mileage. So I plotted the plans on to spreadsheets (as you do) and then combined them to look at the different variations. This is what I ended up with:
The keys to this plan are:
- Having Monday and Friday off, with the option of doing cross training or strength training/core work on those days.
- Trying to get as close to (or over) a 1:1 ratio of weekday to weekend miles.
- Midweek medium long runs to get used to running 10 miles at one go.
- Saturday long runs followed by Sunday recovery runs on tired legs.
- Alternating weeks between hill repeats and long midweek runs.
The biggest challenges that I can already see:
- Being committed to doing any kind of strength or core work on Monday and/or Friday.
- Fitting a 10-mile run in on Wednesdays. I still can’t decide if I want to get up super early and get these done before work, or just run after work and get home later than usual. I was originally going to do doubles, but then KP persuaded me to try to do them in one go, if possible, to get used to running 10 miles like it was nothing. (Well not nothing, but not hard either.)
- I’ll be in New York for the first 2.5 weeks of the plan. Two of those weeks will be spent attending a very intense course for work, basically 12-15 hours of classroom + lab time every single day. Then, I’ll spend 3 days in Manhattan with friends, which will hopefully allow for some fun runs through Central Park.
If anyone – especially 50K veterans – has any suggestions or advice, please let me know!
And last but certainly not least… if you follow me on social media, you’ll know that I’m using the Big Basin 50K as a platform to raise money for Running for a Better Oakland. The whole story is spelled out on my fundraising page, but the TL;DR version is that it’s a great charity and I’m excited to be fundraising for them. 24 hours after I sent out the initial emails, I’ve already received $361 out of my $1000 goal. At this rate, I might have to increase my goal! I’ve been blown away and very touched by people’s generosity. Hopefully, the fundraising will serve as a well of motivation when things get tough: Do it for the kids of RBO!