Running

Ultra Marathon Training Plan: how to train for a 50 mile ultramarathon

A complete ultra-distance training plan to get you from the comfort of your bed to the finish line in four months, or less

A 16 week training plan with workouts no longer than 2 hours! Yes, you read right… and here it is.

Why would anyone want to run an ultramarathon, let alone 50 miles?

muddy legs and feet after ultra distance run
Not because they want to look like this!

For most runners, an ultra-distance event is the pinnacle of their running achievements. But why would anyone want to cover this kind of distance (or even a 5k run)? Some have suggested it could be something deep within our DNA, a feeling of connecting with our long-gone ancestors who roamed the African plains in search of food and shelter. For me, and many scientists whose research shows we were unlikely to travel long distances in relatively short periods of time, this seems unlikely.

No, the most plausible reason why anyone runs an ultra is the challenge. And one that doesn’t come with the inherent danger found in other extreme sports and activities (like free climbing, and swimming through shark-infested waters on a full circumnavigation of the Lord Howe Islands, Australia).

To my mind, there’s nothing quite like the feeling that comes when you cross the finish line on the day. It’s a rush I find hard to describe. And I’m sure many real ultra-athletes will agree.

Note: I don’t class myself as an athlete and I rarely take part in organised events. The long-distance runs I complete are in my own time, with the only competition being the sporadic negative thoughts in my mind, which is a topic we’ll deal with in a while.

So the real reason we run ultras is…

For the challenge, the rush of endorphins and the knowledge that, with a little encouragement and the right mindset, we can achieve truly huge goals.

Or is it just for bragging rights?

Race walking vs an Ultra

Before we dive headlong into this plan, there’s one other question that needs to be answered: is race walking the same as an ultra?

The simple answer is: no.

Although race walking events can cover huge distances, there’s a key difference between these two sports. A walking race has strict criteria attached, such as the competitor having to always have one foot on the ground to avoid disqualification. Also, the athlete’s knee of their advanced leg must not bend and the leg must straighten as the body passes over it. Rather than attempt to dive deep into the specifics, I’ll it for the experts at Olympics.com to explain.

Ultra-distance athletes have it a little easier and there are only a few rules, most of which are particular to a given event. Rulings for ultras include time limits, not clubbing competing athletes unconscious and no drugs. In fact, that latter point is pretty much universal in every competitive sport.

So, is there really a difference?

Yes, and no… Whilst ultra runs tend to be 30+ miles, walking races can be as short as a couple of km, rising to 20+ miles.

Note: a point of interest for marathoners with an eye on history – ultramarathons were invented during the Victorian era. Called ‘pedestrianism’ at the time, these events saw wealthy individuals bet on whose footmen (the guys who walked alongside carriages) could complete a set distance fastest. Over time this event migrated to the USA where competitors took part in events covering up to 1,000km over the course of 6 days.

Don’t worry, we’re not expecting you to do the same. Yet!

Why are YOU planning to run an ultra?

This is key, as you’ll soon see. Knowing your ‘why’, as Simon Sineck put it, is an important part of the process. And without a good reason, you’ll soon find yourself floundering as your training programme falls flat on its face.

The biggest question that needs to be answered is your…

Motivation

The first question you need to ask yourself before starting ultramarathon training is: what motivates you to do this? Simple answers such as ‘it sounds fun’ or ‘because my neighbour completed a 50 mile race last week’ aren’t going to cut it.

To succeed in any kind of ultra event you’re going to need:

  1. a solid base of fitness – if your cardio is poor, and your muscles ill-prepared, you will fail! Unless you’re like David Goggins.
  2. a powerful sense of determination – if you can’t muster up the drive to complete a short one mile, or push through the pain barrier when your body is screaming at you to stop, you need to work on your motivation. I find having a sense of purpose works well and I achieve this by raising funds for charities.
  3. The right running gear – but you don’t need to rush out and buy super-expensive equipment. In most cases, the clothes and running shoes you already own are more than adequate.

Note: if the event, or run, covers cross country and trail routes you will need more specialised shoes

Now you’ve discovered your ‘why’, it’s time to look at the different types of ultra runners and see which niche you fit into

The types of runner

To my mind, there are three types of ultramarathon runners. Now, some of you may disagree and if you do, please add your thoughts in the comments at the end of this post.

The lazy runner

This is me! A lazy runner is not someone who lacks get up and go. Instead, they’re the kind of sportswoman, or man, who enjoys runs, long and short, but has no desire to smash any records or create a super-efficient cardiovascular system to power their activities. And there’s nothing wrong with this approach – they simply like being on their feet, flitting along the roads and trails.

trail through long grass
Trails like these… this is heaven!

Although I’m pretty fit for my age (top 8%, according to my Garmin Connect app), I don’t have an all-consuming desire to be the fastest runner in the pack. Sure, I like to be first over the line, or at the head of the pack, but if not then it’s fine by me. After all, I’m 51 now and I run with some pretty fast guys and gals in their 20s and 30s.

Serious competitors

Serious competitors are the A-type personalities of the running world. For them, the win, or even the FKT (fastest known time) is everything and woe betide anyone, or anything, that gets in the way of their goals. I used to have this mindset and in the event I lost a race or didn’t cross the finish line in the first 5, I was not happy.

For some runners, this mindset is alien and not one they want to indulge in. Which is fine. Being ultra-competitive and demanding high standards every time you run is draining and can have an effect on your personal life. For the most part, this type of runner is either single or has a support network with a high degree of tolerance for being left for hours on end whilst the athlete trains.

‘Doing it for fun’ runners

A step up from the lazy runner, but not so involved as the serious athlete, the ‘doing it for fun runner’ combines elements of both the above types. They understand the need for high endurance, nutrition and strength, but don’t get overly excited by not being the best runner on the day.

Many of my friends fit into this last category, most of them building their training schedule around their day jobs. And many of them have a structure to their plans that’s missed out by the ‘lazy runner’. To my mind, this type of runner is the one to aspire to, in particular, if you have a busy life that precludes building a full plan that will consume hundreds of hours of your time

Which type of runner are you? The choice will affect your training.

Take a few minutes to mull over the ‘three runner types according to James’. This thought process will help when it comes to building out a planning your training sessions.

Like I said – I’m a lazy runner. My running sessions are focused, but I’m not particularly concerned if I miss a session, or two. And the bulk of my training focuses on mindset (which helps when I haven’t put in enough hours during the build-up phase).

Other important considerations for ultra runners

It’s time to dig into the more important aspects of this plan. We’ll go from road/trail running up to day you race. All the sections below are important as they deal with not only the plan but the feelings you’re likely to experience as well as the right gear for the event.

Gear

As mentioned earlier, most of the running gear you already own will be suitable for an ultramarathon. And if there are aid stations along the way, or you have a support team, some items like food and water resupplies won’t be needed.

Required gear

  1. Running shoes. These need to match the terrain you’ll cover. In some cases you might need to buy a specialist pair shoes (my trail runners are the Lone Peak Altra). I also use Hoka’s fantastic OneOne ATR 6 running shoes during activities where I need to run on roads for any reasonable distance. We recently added this review: Nike Vaporfly Next 2, running shoes that performed well in testing on roads only.
  2. Shorts and shirt. Seems obvious, but the right type of clothes can make, or break, your run. When covering long distances you’ll undoubtedly experience chafing, or rub, and I recommend you use a pair of shorts with an inner Lycra short. The shirt you wear needs to wick away sweat fast as the feeling of being constantly wet, and salty, isn’t pleasant.
  3. Socks. Socks should be cushioned – your feet are going to take the brunt of the battering your body receives on an ultra event. My preferred option is the 1,000 mile sock, a garment made of two layers, one tight and the other looser, which reduces the risk of blisters.
  4. Food and water. It goes without saying you need to stay hydrated and fueled during your run. In particular, long distances runners will need to replenish salt, carbs and proteins during the ultra. More on this shortly.

Optional gear

  1. Poles. For some athletes, using poles is a contentious issue – purists see them as an aid that needs to be banned. More pragmatic types see poles for what they are – devices that reduce the wear and tear on your knees and the aches and pains that come later in life. The choice is yours, but for me it’s an obvious one and I carry poles on longer distance runs, and hikes, because I value being able to walk pain-free later in life.
  2. Sports watch. A good sports watch is a useful tool for tracking your position and, where the route is not well marked, giving you navigation tips and hints. Jake and I have reviewed a number of watches including the Garmin Fenix 6, the Vivoactive and the powerhouse Tactix Delta. But don’t feel the need to buy the most expensive sports watch on the market – low-cost options such as the Garmin Forerunner 55 and the Amazfit GTR 2e watches are more than adequate.
  3. Warm clothing. A 50 mile run is likely to involve some travel during the night. And if you pause you’ll need to stay warm which means pulling on a lightweight insulated jacket or wrapping yourself in an insulating blanket. Don’t understand the effects of cold air – stay warm!

Nutrition

In all honesty, this is pretty hard for me to tell you the best approach. Getting your nutrition right will make a huge difference to your endurance and run timings, but we humans are all different and what works for one, may not be best for you.

Some quick thoughts on my approach to nutrient intake during each workout in this training plan:

Carbs are good, but you need to get the balance right. A continual cycle of low carbohydrate intake, and little protein, will leave your muscles weak. As you progress through, the lack of protein available will result in your body cannibalizing muscle protein to sustain the power and strength you need. But, over time, this act of literally eating yourself will cause your body to fail.

Proteins: carbs are the fuel for your ultramarathon and proteins are the all-important nutrients that will prevent your body from consuming your muscles! Fact: when you go into protein deficit, your body will start to eat away at your muscles which leads to weakness and muscle wasting.

One more nutritional note before we move on: during long runs, I eat chocolate but not for any nutritional boost (even though it provides you with one). For me, it’s nice to have the additional benefit – eating chocolate causes your body to release dopamine, the feel-good chemical, which will help you through the tough sections. Oh, and I like gummies too!

Hydration

One of the most common reasons for a DNF (Did Not Finish) on an event is lack of hydration. During any run, you sweat. In fact, the volume of sweat you produce on even a moderate 10 km (6 miles) run, at a pace of 8 minute miles, increases the amount you sweat by a massive 20%. For an idea of how your body responds to different durations of run, including pace, see the formula below.

What this means is your body is perspiring more in one run than you would do in five days of normal activity. And that’s ‘only’ for a 30 mile run; I’ll leave it to your imagination to describe the effects of a 50 mile run!

So, we know that hydration is important, period. But how much water do you need for a 50 mile run? For optimal performance you’ll need to take on up to 800ml of water per hour, but at a steady rate. Gulp it down and you’ll feel bloated and most of the water will be passed straight back out of your system.

Tip: when you drink, sip your water to reduce bloating and a drop in your running performance.

Another factor to consider when looking at hydration is this: rehydrating, and the process of expelling the excess/’processed’ water removes salts (electrolytes) from your body. This means you’ll need to get this essential back into your system. Now, there seems to be a lot of debate over the ‘right’ amount of electrolyte to restore, but if you’re not a professional athlete, or you have no plan to smash records, you’re unlikely to have a qualified team to advise you. So the best option is to create a rough calculation of your bodies needs and stick to that figure.

To help you along the way, the formula below will help you calculate the amount of water you will sweat out during an ultra:

  1. Record your body weight, ideally with no clothes on (that’s A).
  2. Hit the trails, or roads, and run! During your training session record exactly how much you drank. This calculation is pretty easy to work out if you use a water bottle of a specific capacity. For the record, 1 millilitre = 1 gram. Weigh your bottles before you (that’s E) and again after you finish (that’s F), making a note of the difference between these two figures (C). Note: 1 gram = 1 milliliter.*
    *Make sure all units are in kg or litres
  3. Some people recommend towelling yourself dry your run, but this is probably a consideration for anyone wanting to perform at the highest level or elite athletes. Now record your weight (B). Even if you’re not ‘leet’ it helps to be as accurate as you can be, so get naked before you measure your post-run weight as your clothes will hold some sweat.
  4. Now subtract your post-exercise weight (B) from your pre-exercise weight (A) to get the weight you lost during the session.
    Weight lost (C) = A-B
  5. Now calculate the amount of water you took on board during the session: subtract the weight of the bottle(s) before (E) and after (F) to obtain the amount you consumed (G).
    Volume consumed (Z) = X-Y
  6. You can now calculate your sweat rate…
    (C+Z) / time.
    Example:
  7. Before my run, I weigh 90 kgs (A)
  8. I started my run with 1000ml (C) of water and finished with 100ml (D).
  9. Stripping naked and jumping on the scales, I see my post-run weight is 89.5 kg (B) – it was a tough run!
  10. Subtracting my post-run weight from the pre-run figure (A – B), I get 500g (C).
  11. Subtracting water consumed on the run (E) from the amount left at the end (F) gives a figure of 100ml (G)
  12. To calculate your sweat rate: C+G/time which gives a good indication of your sweat rate, which allows to you better plan your fluid intake.

Electrolytes

The same goes for salt intake. Why? Because the salt present in your body is responsible for the following:

  1. Regulating blood fluids and reducing the risk of low blood pressure.
  2. Maintenance of fluid levels in the body.
  3. Keeping the heart, liver and kidneys healthy.

When you go into salt deficiency you’re more likely to experience stomach cramps, severe headaches and muscle spasms.

On average, your body needs around 1.5g of sodium every day to maintain normal function. When running an ultra, this figure can increase to anywhere up to 700mg per hour.

For most sporting events, the salts found in everyday food are more than adequate to sustain your body through the duration of the activity. Here are a few tips to keep your sodium levels up:

  1. About half an hour before starting your run, drink about 250 ml of water.
  2. During the event, drink around 250ml of water with around 50mg of sodium per hour of exercise.

I have heard some long distance runners recommend using salt tablets to boost sodium levels during the event, but you’re only likely to need these if you’re running in really hot environments.

Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s look at your body and what you can expect on the day.

Stress

There are three types of stress you’ll experience during any kind of sporting activity, and these are amplified on long distance events. They are:

Physical

Let’s face it, at some point you’re going to be in a state of discomfort. As the miles build up, and the constant pounding of your feet on the trails and roads racks up, you’re going to experience physical stress. These come in many forms:

Headache – painful, throbbing headaches can be caused by many factors. These include:
Nausea and vomiting – caused by the huge strain an ultra can place on your body when coupled with sodium, carb and protein deficiency.

Dehydration – keeping your water supplies replenished, and your nutrient intake up, will stave off most headaches, but other factors may have an impact. In particular, heat and cold can cause head pain. And so can poor posture (we’ll deal with this topic in a while). Advice: carry pain-killers in a small first aid kit.

Mental

The degree of mental stress you experience and, more importantly, how you deal with it can make or break your run. Let’s face it, running an ultra takes a toll on both your mind and body, and when one of the two is worn down, the other reacts in unexpected ways.

A common theme amongst many newcomers to the ultra-racing scene is the negative thoughts that circulate in their minds. Words and phrases such as, ‘I can’t do this,’ or ‘there’s no way I can keep up with the pack’ are some of the most reported ruminations. But they’re only words, right?

Well, they are, but the impact those words have on your performance is huge. So how do you deal with a negative mindset? Well, the most common approach – one I learned as a young soldier – was to tough it out. But this often doesn’t work for many people.

Chastising yourself for not putting in enough effort, or being weak, only amplifies the negative voice in your head. Fortunately, I’ve discovered better methods for keeping my mind on track and working with my body to get through the many miles. But how?

To be honest, I’m not fully qualified to teach these skills. Most of what I’ve learned has been found on the web – YouTube mainly, courtesy of Andrew Huberman and Carol Dweck – and it has been super-useful. What I will say is this – learning to control dopamine, as well as breaking down your goals, and challenging the negative voices in your head is an effective way to turn off the irritating whines that come with the passing miles.

I’ll follow up this post with a full write of the lessons I’ve learned, including how I’ve adapted them to meet my running needs.

Here’s one of the techniques I’ve adapted to suit my needs:

  • Challenge the voices. When a negative thought comes to mind, immediately throw back this question: “Is this thought useful, or helping me?” In most cases, the answer is a ‘no’.
  • Then ask yourself this: “How does the thought make me feel?” Describe the feelings the thought has stirred up.
  • After the above step, say, “Would you like to let this thought go?” Say yes, and let the negative words fade.
    This method of quietening the voices works well for me. And I have to add one more caveat – you need to practice until it becomes second nature. For some people the method will be easy to learn, becoming a natural response after only a few days practice. Other runners might take longer to install this thought process.

The ultramarathon training plan

Now we’re getting to the heart of the matter – the nuts and bolts of an ultramarathon training plan. As you likely know, the training regime will be more intense than you may feel comfortable with, but don’t let that put you off (remember to challenge the voice in your head). There will be days when you feel a 50 mile run is too much, but that’s just self-doubt messing with your mind.

I know you’re champing at the bit, ready to get into the plan… but there’s a few more points to cover off. Trust me, they’re useful. Let’s cover the…

Myths.

Let’s dispel them!

  1. You need to be superhumanly-fit to run big distances.
    No, you don’t, and we’ll come onto more reasons why in a minute. Any fairly fit person can complete a long-distance event with the key requirement being the right mindset. If you can run 5 miles, you can run an ultra.
  2. You have to cover huge distances in training.
    Another myth! Whilst it is useful to know you can run for 30+ miles, there’s no requirement for you to do this. Most of my long runs are a maximum distance of 20 km.
  3. All ultramarathons are hard
    Are they hard? The answer is subjective and depends on what you’re trying to achieve when you race. For most participants, a 50 mile run is not an event you run for the whole distance. Because in many cases you’re going to be walking a fair amount of miles (we’ll cover this point in the training section).

Planning your training

This will be the last recommendation I offer before we jump knee-deep into the plan. They’re important to know and understand as they are key to helping build both the physical and mental stamina you’ll need on the day:

Build a training plan based on hours, not miles

This might seem counter-intuitive, but hear me out. Knowing you can run a certain mileage in a set time is useful, but only if you need to run a set mileage in a set time. But an ultra is different for the following reasons:

  1. Unless you’ve run the route beforehand you’re unlikely to have a detailed knowledge of the terrain. And even if you do have this advanced information, weather patterns can change the conditions you run in.
  2. Our bodies, and level of fitness, are unique which means our ability to maintain a pace for a given time varies from person to person. And even if you feel confident of being able to run, say, 10 minute miles for 50 miles, injuries picked up along the way may cut down your timings.
  3. How we respond to dehydration and low volumes of nutritional intake dictate performance. By that, I mean sprinting 100m is unlikely to leave you feeling fatigued for any significant time after. When you’re running, I can safely assume you won’t be tucking into a 3 course meal along the way, or have ample supplies of the water you’ll need to fully rehydrate. As your body consumes both nutrients and water, you go into a deficit which is very hard to counter during your run.

Finally, the training plan you’ve been waiting for!

I know, it took a long time to get here (unless you skimmed… you naughty ultra-athlete!) The thoughts leading up to this point are important as they give a fuller picture of the requirements and expectations you’ll need to accommodate as part of this guide. And I suggest you know them as they will make race day so much more fun.

The training phases

I use four training phases when building up to a long distance event, no matter what activity I’m taking part in (a multi-day hike, skiing hundreds of miles across a country, or ultra-running). Starting at phase one, each step transitions into the next and will deliver you to start line.

Warning!

Warning: There be hill reps ahead!

The plan takes a total of 3 months.

Step by step: the training Phases

Base fitness

Week 1
Monday – 20 min run, steady state. Aim to keep your heart rate in the 70% – 80% MHR (Maximum Heart Rate) zone.
Tuesday – 25 minute run, steady state.
Wednesday – day off
Thursday – 25 minute run, steady state
Friday – 25 minute run, steady state
Saturday – 30 minute run, up the pace a little and aim for a maximum of 85% of your MHR.
Sunday – Day off.

Week 2
Monday – 30 minute run, steady state
Tuesday – 40 minute run.
Wednesday – day off
Thursday – 30 minute run. Find a gentle incline around halfway round the route and run 4 shuttles. Run the uphill stage around 70% of a full sprint, jog back down.
Friday – 40 minute run, keep the pace easy.
Saturday – 45 minute run, steady state.
Sunday – Day off

Week 3
Monday – 50 minute run, steady state.
Tuesday – 45 minute run. Add 6 hill reps 70% of an all out sprint.
Wednesday – Day off.
Thursday – 55 minute run. Keep the pace easy, a tempo where you can easily hold a conversation with a running partner (if you have one)
Friday – 40 minute run. Up the pace, aim for brief periods of 2 minutes where you heart rate touches the 90% MHR.
Saturday – 50 minute run at a steady sate.
Sunday – Day off

Week 4
Monday – 1 hour run. As you’re now upping your time running, this needs to be an easy run. If your isn’t quite ready to run for the full duration of the workout, feel free to break it up by walking for short periods of 1 minute.
Tuesday – 40 minute run. Keep it easy, you’ll probably feel tired after yesterday’s workout.
Wednesday – Day off.
Thursday – 1 hour run. Repeat of Monday.
Friday – 30 minute run, nice and easy. Tomorrow you are going to move up a notch.
Saturday – 1 hour 20 min run. This is your longest run so far and your body might rebel. Even if you walk for short stints, the most important point of this workout is completion. Afterwards, you’ll feel a huge sense of achievement, so reward yourself
Sunday – Day off. Find something on TV to binge-watch and relax.

Increasing time on your feet

Well done! Your first four weeks of training are over and, by now, your body should be adjusting to bigger distances. Over the next four weeks, you’ll be lifting the time run to around 2 hours. Let’s do this.

Week 1
Monday – 50 minute run, nice and easy. You may be starting too feel some residual fatigue from the longer runs and it’s important you don’t push yourself too hard at this stage of the plan.
Tuesday – 1 hour 20 minutes run. Steady state.
Wednesday – Day off
Thursday – 1 hour run. Nice and easy, move at a pace where you have a conversation.
Friday – 50 minute run. Steady state
Saturday – 1 hour 30 run. Easy pace.
Sunday – Day off.

Week 2
Monday – 1 hour 30 minute run. Steady state.
Tuesday – 55 minute run, keep the pace easy and add in 6 hill shuttles at 90% of MHR.
Wednesday – Day off.
Thursday – 1 hour 30 min run, maintain a steady pace. Enjoy the views.
Friday – 55 minute run at an easy pace. Tomorrow you go longer.
Saturday – 1 hour 40 minute run. Keep your heart rate to a maximum of 80%, add in a few shallow inclines to work your leg muscles that little harder.
Sunday – Day off. Finish binge-watching.

Week 3
Monday – 1 hour 40 minute run. Steady state.
Tuesday – 55 minute run, nice and easy does it.
Wednesday – Day off.
Thursday – 1 hour 40 minute run, add in 6 short hill reps of no more than 100m.
Friday – 40 minute run. Very easy, try to keep your heart rate at close as possible to 70% MHR.
Saturday – 1 hour 50 minute run. If need be, take this training workout at a jogging pace.
Sunday – Day off. Eat chocolate, ice cream, vegan paella… whatever makes you feel good.

Week 4
Monday – 1 hour 50 minute run. Stay on flat terrain and go easy.
Tuesday – 40 minute run. Again, go easy today.
Wednesday – Day off.
Thursday – 1 hour 50 minute run. Steady state, no hills
Friday – Day off
Saturday – 2 hour run, max heart rate of 80% MHR.
Sunday – Day off. You’re amazing; in the past 8 weeks you’ve gone from running for 25 minutes to today when you completed a 2 hour run. Enjoy the rest.

Adding more hill-work to your plan

Most ultramarathons will have some hills along the way so it’s important to get your body used to moving uphill. TIP: if you can’t see the top of the hill it’s fine to walk until you can see the summit.

Week 1
Monday – 2 hour run. Easy pace, jog if you’re feeling tired. The key is having time on your feet.
Tuesday – 40 minute. Steady state.
Wednesday – Day off.
Thursday – 1 hour 30 run, with hills. Find an incline over 100m long and with a medium incline. Complete 6 shuttles at a steady pace.
Friday – 40 minute run. Easy pace.
Saturday – 2 hour run. Steady state.
Sunday – Day off.

Week 2
Monday – 1 hour 40 min run, with hill reps. Complete 6 shuttles as a steady state.
Tuesday – 40 minute run, easy pace.
Wednesday – Day off.
Thursday – 1 hour 50 minute run. Aim to keep your heart rate to 80% MHR.
Friday – 40 minute run. Steady state.
Saturday – 2 hour run, nice and easy does it.
Sunday – Day off.

Week 3
Monday – 1 hour 50 minute run, add in 8 repetitions on a gentle incline of no more than 100m.
Tuesday – 40 minute run. Jog.
Wednesday – Day off.
Thursday – 1 hour 40 minute run.
Friday – 40 minute run, easy.
Saturday – 1 hour 50 minute run, repeat Monday’s hill reps.
Sunday – Day off.

Week 4
Monday – 2 hour run. Steady state.
Tuesday – Day off
Wednesday – Day off.
Thursday – 1 hour run. Today you’re going to complete 10 shuttles on a short hill, or incline. Remember to keep the pace to a maximum of 90% MHR and jog back down the slope.
Friday – Day off.
Saturday – 2 hour run. Easy pace.
Sunday – Day off

Tapering your training

If you can run for two hours – which you now can – you can run an 30+ miles. In this stage of the training cycle, you’ll work on all areas covered in the past 12 weeks. In the last week, your training volume will dip in readiness for race day.

Week 1
Monday – 1 hour 40 minute run. Steady state with a maximum heart rate of 90%
Tuesday – 50 minute. Easy run.
Wednesday – Day off.
Thursday – 1 hour 50 run, with hills. Find an incline over 100m long and with a medium incline. Complete 6 shuttles at a steady pace.
Friday – 30 minute run. Easy pace.
Saturday – 2 hour run. Find some undulating terrain to train on, but no big hills.
Sunday – Day off.

Week 2
Monday – 1 hour 30 min run, with hill reps. Complete 6 shuttles in a steady state.
Tuesday – 50 minute run, easy pace or jog.
Wednesday – Day off.
Thursday – 1 hour 50 minute run. At 80% MHR.
Friday – 30 minute run. Steady state.
Saturday – 2 hour run, nice and easy does it.
Sunday – Day off.

Week 3
Monday – 1 hour 40 minute run, with 8 hill repetitions.
Tuesday – 40 minute run. Jog.
Wednesday – Day off.
Thursday – 1 hour 40 minute run, steady state
Friday – 40 minute run, easy.
Saturday – 1 hour 50 minute run, repeat Monday’s hill reps.
Sunday – Day off.

Week 4
Monday – 2 hour run. Steady state.
Tuesday – Day off
Wednesday – Day off.
Thursday – 1 hour run. Today you’re going to complete 10 shuttles on a short hill, or incline. Remember to keep the pace to a maximum of 90% MHR and jog back down the slope.
Friday – Day off.
Saturday – Day off
Sunday – Race day. Go smash it!

How hard is an ultra-distance run?

As hard, or easy, as you want it to be. Following a solid ultramarathon training plan, like the one in this guide, keeping your body fueled and understanding your physical limits is key to ensuring you perform on the day and feel ‘good’ at the end of the run.

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