Everything you need to know to run a 50km ultra

Last updated: 22-Aug-18

By Alice Morrison

As part of our ongoing work to bring you the best ultra training articles, kit, nutrition and motivation help that we can, we at RunUltra have commissioned a complete “pack” to help you run a 50km ultra. It is a distance that a lot of people start with, so it can also be used as a guide to how to run your first ultra. Alice Morrison puts it together.

Training Plan

A very good place to start. Although every person is different and you should bear this in mind while reading the plan, we all need to begin somewhere. Justin Bateman, runner and coach has devised a fantastic, practical and solid plan to get you through that 50km. He gives you a week by week timetable as well as overall advice.

Cross Training

We all need to do some cross training for our mental as well as physical health! Seriously, though, strengthening and core work as well as stretching will stand you in tremendous stead as you start increasing your distances. Trying to keep injury free is the bane of every runner and we have a whole series of articles to help you with that.

Using the bike, the pool and the gym are all really good ways to keep it fresh and keep it going.

Yoga for runners (stretching and strengthening). Three sets of routines from 10 minutes to half an hour:

  1. Hip openers and stretchers
  2. Hips and hamstrings
  3. Restoration and relaxation

Core strengthening. Two sets of routines for abs, back and legs:

  1. Leg and core strength
  2. Abs and obliques

Nutrition

Nutrition is the other absolutely key part of your regime as you move up through the miles. Diana Green, runner, nutritionist and chef, has compiled the total guide to managing your OWN diet. She includes the calculations you need to work out what is right for your weight/age/gender/goals. She also has examples to help you through it including menus to balance protein, carbohydrates and fats within the context of the training plan set out by Justin above. She has included a whole series of easy and delicious recipes. As she says, “I will never sacrifice taste for a few calories!”

Psychology of running

That is the body taken care of, now for the head. It is a cliché but totally true that your ultra will be won and lost by your brain not your legs. We have gathered a series of pieces to try and get you straight, from getting your mojo in shape, and a little bit of motivation to the all important race plan.

  1. Find your Mojo
  2. Running motivation
  3. Race management

Choosing your races

I am guessing that you actually did this first. But if you didn’t or even if you fancy doing some more or just doing a bit of fantasy shopping, here is our list of the Top 10 ultras for beginners which include a lot of 50km races. Choosing races is always the best part of the process, except for finishing them of course!

Some top tips

Everyone loves top tips. We have lots of them on the site and here are a couple to whet your appetite:

  1. Ten quick tips to help you go the distance
  2. Ten top tips to make you a better climber

You know you can do it. Consistency helps but if you start to flag, don’t worry, every mile you have already run will always be with you. Remember, we always want to hear your feedback and stories so please feel free to comment or to get in touch and tell us your story! Luke Jarmey is your man for that and he is on [email protected]

Good luck! Run like the WIND….

Global - Virtual

Elevation

A virtual race which can be run at any time shown on the dates shown, on any type of terrain in any country.

Suitable for

For runners from beginners to experienced as you choose your own course and challenge based on the guidelines and options set by the virtual race organiser.

Endurance - Multi-activity

Elevation

An ultra distance race including at least two of the following activities such as running, swimming, cycling, kayaking, skiing and climbing. It may also include different climatic conditions (eg ice, snow, humidity, cold water, mud or heat).

Suitable for

Experienced multi-skilled athletes who have trained for the different activities included in this event. Admission to these races may be subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements and any specialist equipment required such as a wetsuit, skis or a mountain bike.

Brutal

Elevation

Increase of up to 2000 metres with very challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity, heat or at high altitude)

Suitable for

Very experienced long distance ultra runners (min 3 years’ experience) or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races is often subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Purchase of specialist kit is often recommended for these races.

Expert

Elevation

Increase of up to 2000 metres with some challenging climatic conditions (e.g. ice, snow, humidity or heat)

Suitable for

Experienced runners who have completed at least 4 ultras in last 12 months, or are doing regular long distance running (>50 miles) with elevation and conditions shown (where possible). Admission to these races may be subject to receipt of a recent medical examination certificate. Check with the race organiser regarding entry requirements.

Advanced

Elevation

Increase of up to 1500 metres

Suitable for

Runners who have completed several ultra distances or similar events, or are doing long distance running regularly, with elevation shown.

Intermediate

Elevation

Increase of up to 1000 metres

Suitable for

Runners who have completed at least one ultra in last 6 months or are doing long distance running (>26 miles) regularly, with elevation shown.

Beginner

Elevation

Very little change < 500 metres

Suitable for

First ultra event. Runners completing a marathon or doing regular long distance running (>26 miles) in the last 6 months.