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My First Ultra! – Training for Ladybower 50 miles… (Read 174 times)

Andy Greenhalgh


    Hi Everybody,

     

    I’m about to train for my first ultra - Ladybower  50 miles on 21st September (UK)  – I will start a 16 week training plan on 2nd June and I have a couple of questions/concerns. ..

     

    My Background:

     

    I’ve recently ran Blackpool Marathon in 4:00:02 (PB) and I’ve ran 4 marathons in total, 2 in 2011 one in 2009.

     

    Ran Half marathon in 1:44 (2012) and 10K in 47:45 (2011) and I’ve been running for 10 years or so.

     

    Over the last 18 months I have made the transition to minimalist shoes (vibram fivefingers kso and bikila’s) and I run barefoot quite regularly 4 or 5 mile stints – barefoot running is something I will include in my ultra training but will spend most of my running in vibrams (but you never know!)

     

    I’m designing my own program after reading info on the net and I’m piecing together what I think will suit my needs. My 2 main questions/concerns are these:

     

    1: The FIRST training method, “Run Fast, Run Less”

     

    Can I use the FIRST training method for ultras? This technique is typically used for marathon training and has only 3 runs a week, with 3 cross training days and one rest day - because the runs are higher intensity (intervals, tempos and a marathon-paced long run) the program provides enough fitness for the marathon for less mileage. I was thinking of the possibility of doing the same for ultra training and to include one back to back long run 4 weeks before the race (30 mile then 15 miles respectively) – I do understand the value of running more miles when training for an ultra but I’m thinking maybe a compromise of 4 runs, 2 cross training days and a complete rest day, the extra run could be a recovery run. Your thoughts?

     

    2: Walk / run ratio?

     

    What ratio of walk/run would you suggest for the long run? I’ve read a ratio of 5:1 is a good place to start – I’m a little downbeat about running 1 mile out of every 6 (that would mean walking for 20 minutes out of every 6 miles) - I’m considering running 4 miles then walk 1/4mile or maybe 5 miles then walk 1/2mile. I will experiment with this during training, of course, but what are your thoughts on this, from your experience? Should I stick with 5:1 ratio, running 5 miles then walking 1 mile? Or should I opt for a shorter walk period and experiment with that?

     

    OK, hope to hear from you soon

     

    Thanks in advance,

     

    Andy from

    www.myrunningtips.com

      I know very little about ultras, but what little I do know from witnessing friends of friends, is a couple of training concepts:

      - running at a low intensity to teach your body to burn fat.  In many cases, this is painfully slow, and walking up hills to keep the HR low.

      - back to back long runs (something about the endocrine system??).  The guys I know will do something like 20 to 25 on a Saturday, and then do another 13 to 15 on Sunday.  I'm not sure what they do on other days.

       

      Surely, there's plenty of books out there on ultra training. Why would you look at FIRST when it seems polar opposite to the training needs of running ultras?

        Just a few things about myself, I use the plan from the book "Relentless Forward Progress", times of great information in there. For my first 50 K I didn't worry about mileage as much as time on my feet,say go out for a four hour long run. I have no prescribed method for walking, I walk up hills or if I'm getting very tired. Also very important is to practice nutrition especially eating real food, I love rice crispy treats, gummy bears, raspberry fig newtons. I don't do back-to-back runs, I will do my long run then the next day I will do a recovery run of 8 miles or so. The best advice I ever got was to have fun and not take myself so seriously, it's just running!


        Gang Name "Pound Cake"

          I've read the first book and I think it is reasonable for people that want to perform so-so in races on minimum training. I do not believe it is best for those that want to maximize potential. Can you do a 50 ultra on 30 miles a week? I've read that yes you can. Will it be a comfortable experience for you? I doubt it. I guess it depends on what you want. If it is just to finish with no time goal, then almost any ultra plan will work for you. But FIRST is based on intensity and not distance. Ultras are the opposite - low intensity but high endurance. It seems to me that they are rather at cross purposes.

           

          Ive not run an ultra but read that you should walk all hills and plan for about 20% of your distance to be walked. A nice way to do that is to walk the first 2 minutes of every 10. Or, the first 2 minutes of every mile (if you use a gps or have mile markers). Better to walk early and often. I would not run 5 miles then walk a mile. More frequent but shorter rest is better to preserve energy.

           

          just my 2 cents from what I have read as I have no ultra experience.

           

          Hi Everybody,

           

          I’m about to train for my first ultra - Ladybower  50 miles on 21st September (UK)  – I will start a 16 week training plan on 2nd June and I have a couple of questions/concerns. ..

           

          My Background:

           

          I’ve recently ran Blackpool Marathon in 4:00:02 (PB) and I’ve ran 4 marathons in total, 2 in 2011 one in 2009.

           

          Ran Half marathon in 1:44 (2012) and 10K in 47:45 (2011) and I’ve been running for 10 years or so.

           

          Over the last 18 months I have made the transition to minimalist shoes (vibram fivefingers kso and bikila’s) and I run barefoot quite regularly 4 or 5 mile stints – barefoot running is something I will include in my ultra training but will spend most of my running in vibrams (but you never know!)

           

          I’m designing my own program after reading info on the net and I’m piecing together what I think will suit my needs. My 2 main questions/concerns are these:

           

          1: The FIRST training method, “Run Fast, Run Less”

           

          Can I use the FIRST training method for ultras? This technique is typically used for marathon training and has only 3 runs a week, with 3 cross training days and one rest day - because the runs are higher intensity (intervals, tempos and a marathon-paced long run) the program provides enough fitness for the marathon for less mileage. I was thinking of the possibility of doing the same for ultra training and to include one back to back long run 4 weeks before the race (30 mile then 15 miles respectively) – I do understand the value of running more miles when training for an ultra but I’m thinking maybe a compromise of 4 runs, 2 cross training days and a complete rest day, the extra run could be a recovery run. Your thoughts?

           

          2: Walk / run ratio?

           

          What ratio of walk/run would you suggest for the long run? I’ve read a ratio of 5:1 is a good place to start – I’m a little downbeat about running 1 mile out of every 6 (that would mean walking for 20 minutes out of every 6 miles) - I’m considering running 4 miles then walk 1/4mile or maybe 5 miles then walk 1/2mile. I will experiment with this during training, of course, but what are your thoughts on this, from your experience? Should I stick with 5:1 ratio, running 5 miles then walking 1 mile? Or should I opt for a shorter walk period and experiment with that?

           

          OK, hope to hear from you soon

           

          Thanks in advance,

           

          Andy from

          www.myrunningtips.com

          - Scott

          2014 Goals: First Marathon - BQ2016 <3:40 (3:25:18) - 1/2M <1:45 - 5K <22:00

          2014 Marathons: 05/04 Flying Pig (3:49:02) - 09/20 Air Force (BQ 3:25:18) - 11/01 Indianapolis Monumental

            My short time in the world of ultrarunning has taught me that if you want to run an ultra, you should train to run long distances.

            Time on feet is very important, but time on feet running is the most important thing of all.

             

            I have found (in my limited experience) that the more often I run, the better I do. I run 6 days a week, do quality workouts twice a week (speed work and hill repeats) and I am getting used to running on tired legs. I'm following a basic marathon training plan, and simply adding miles to the long run and adding a midweek long run.

             

            I defer to the much more experienced runners out there (John M. here and at runnersworld, Bhearn, wrigley girl, et al) in all things, but those are some of the things that have worked for me.

             

            mta: as far as the run/walk I would just slow the run down to a pace you can sustain for the entire long run.

            hill work would be very wise. Running hard up AND down.

            Andy Greenhalgh


              thanks to everyone for replies, really helpful...

               

              I think I am more inclined to have more mileage in my plan than I originally planned but to still include 2 speed sessions (interval and a hilly tempo) - I'll put together my training program with you thoughts/advice in mind. Thanks.

              SillyC


                There are some posters here that have a LOT of experience - I've run about a dozen ultras and have only been doing it a few years - hopefully the old timers will stop by!

                 

                I'm not sure the run faster run less is going to work well for ultras?  If a race that might take you 12 hours is attractive to you, why the heck do you want to run less?  I mean, that's a long time out running.  Don't you like running?  Boy, you really gotta like running before running all damn day seems like a good idea.  What I'm getting at here is that during the course of your race, since you're out there for a long time, how many times do you think you're going to consider quitting running forever?  For good?  Like never run again?  Yeah - you gotta be able to power through that feeling of hanging up the shoes forever.

                 

                Then there's eating.  Most of us eat during our races, and real food, too.  If you've been running faster and less, most likely, your enteric nervous system has learned to shut down peristalsis and digestion while you're exercising.  (Did you know that your digestive tract is not really controlled by your brain - it largely operates separately?)  You need to teach it not to do that.  You need to go out for these long runs and get your system used to the fact that you're going to ask it to digest and run at the same time.

                 

                IMO, mileage is much less important than the mental aspects and the nutrition.

                  From my experience high mileage, course specific workouts like hill repeats and getting in your long runs are all you need to focus on for training.  Race day getting the right level of effort/pace and proper nutrition are the key to executing your race well.  There is no reason why you can't run the whole 50 miler.  Plenty of people do.

                  Andy Greenhalgh


                    Hello again - I've given my training plan a lot of thought (thanks for your help by the way!) - I have also been stealing some ideas from RW as some of you already know - all been a great help...

                     

                    I've elected to go for much more mileage than I had originally planned but I cannot deny that running on tired legs is something I will have to get used to if I want to run for 10+ hours on race day so I have altered my training plan considerably...

                     

                    I've made a Training Plan in my RunningAhead account which you can see here - by the way, after using the functions on this site I am really impressed - So much better than DailyMile Smile !! This site on the surface seems quite innocent and yet every corner I turn I find more surprises. Hats off to the guys who put this together and I hope to be sticking around here for a while yet 

                     

                    OK if anyone wants to look at my training plan and let me know what you think please do! In particular let me know what you think about my my taper on weeks 13, 14 and 15 - have I reduced the mileage too much?

                     

                    I have decided firmly (ish) on 4 runs a week, 2 cycling and 1 complete rest day (the cycling is only "recovery" and 8-10 miles typically) and I will stick to the weekly mileage I've set out for running. I start at 40 mpw and peek at 67 mpw 4 week before the race. I have back-to-back runs but not two long runs, for example I might have a long run on Sunday which is 26mi but follow it with a treadmill run of 10mi easy pace.

                     

                    Please feel free to have a look at the plan and let me know your thoughts (especially about the taper, I'm not sure I've reduced the miles too much or not)

                     

                    As always your thoughts are appreciated

                     

                    Andy from

                    www.myrunningtips.com

                      That would be Eric.

                       

                       Hats off to the guys who put this together

                       

                      My tiny bit of ultra experience says maybe not to run a 9 mile hill workout two days prior. I'd run maybe 3-4 miles at a time that whole week. The running mileage in your plan looks good. Although for a better mental training effect I'd reverse the order of consecutive long runs, putting the longer one on the second day. But that's me. Just getting out there the day after those long runs will be a victory.

                       

                      As far as walk/run ratio, I am usually too amped up to walk until/unless I really have to, except for short water stop or stretch breaks. Probably not the best strategy, but it got me through a 6 Hour (40 miles) and a 12 Hour (58) on pavement. (I'd rather not talk about trail 50's at this time.) If I had the discipline to walk/run in training, then I would do the same in the race.

                       

                      Running 50 miles takes a little more stubbornness and determination, but if you've done a marathon then you're more than halfway there, literally and figuratively. (Or maybe I just have a terrible memory and it was awful. If so, sorry.)

                      Failure is a good place to start.

                        (Or maybe I just have a terrible memory and it was awful. If so, sorry.)

                         

                         

                        Heh.

                        Yes, you do smell like that.


                        Feeling the growl again

                          Once again, I read the thread title totally wrong.  This has been happening a lot lately.

                          "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

                           

                             

                            My tiny bit of ultra experience says maybe not to run a 9 mile hill workout two days prior. I'd run maybe 3-4 miles at a time that whole week.

                             

                            Kaci Lickteig, ran a 2:50 marathon a week before she broke the course record for Ice Age 50 mile.  Not sure if she did the FIRST method, but maybe you could email her?   I hear ultras are like 90% mental anyway and training is over rated.

                            Andy Greenhalgh


                              A thought occurred to me last night - instead of running 4 days a week, run 5 days, replacing the cycling day on Thursday with a recovery run??

                               

                              The reason this might work better for me is purely to do with time constraints with work, ie. if I share the total weekly mileage over 5 days instead of 4 this would give me more time to squeeze in for work.

                               

                              I could reduce the monday runs or reduce the interval miles instead on wednesdays(I don't want to change the course for the Hill run which is always the same route). However, I am undecided about this - I quite like cycling days as my 2 cross training days... but one will do me if it means squeezing in more time for work.

                               

                              My main concern would be reducing the monday mileage as this is designed to get me running on tired legs following my long run on sunday. Ummm. Can't make my mind up, I might leave the program as it is. Doh!

                               

                              What do you think?

                               

                              So, where I'm doing 10/12mi runs on the monday I'm thinking of reducing these runs to 6/8mi runs and reducing the interval runs slightly, then I would do a recovery run on the thursday of 5/6 mile instead of the bike...

                               

                              I see that I might be procrastinating here and normally I'd just make my mind up - what's making me hesitate is reducing the monday run - would this be a bad move?

                               

                              Andy from

                              www.myrunningtips.com

                               

                              PS. for now I've changed my last week of the plan to include easy runs and I've omitted the 9mi Hill Run, thanks for that I missed it.

                                The plan may be one thing, but going from your current 12-20 mile weeks to 60 miles in 16 weeks might be a bit ambitious in itself.  Also maybe not make three of your 4 runs tough workouts with the other being a back to back long run.  All 4 of your runs then will be tough, leading to burnout or worse, I'd drop the interval/tempo on Wednesday (the hill work will be enough for a Ultra, speed is likely not going to be your limiter), run easy on Wednesday and Thursday (instead of bike), and keep the rest the same.

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