I'm planning to incorporate a 50k trail race as part of my training for my first 50 miler.
Would it be better to plan it 5 weeks out or 3 weeks out?
Pros? Cons? A little help please...
5 or more. A 50K is a several hour-long endurance stressor and will take its toll. Just because you might run it at a pace slower than marathon pace doesn't make it any easier. If you are new to the distance, then you should plan on recovery taking longer than a marathon.
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The question presupposes a lower base mileage, so if you have to ask, then the answer is five weeks.
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3 for me, just go easy.
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If you're running a 50k on 12/30, then you can gauge your recovery from that race and adjust accordingly. We all have different recovery rates. If it were me, I would go no more than 3 weeks out. Endurance fades faster than most people realize.
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I'd make the 50k my longest run and set it about 3 weeks out from the race. You should recovery sufficiently, unless you really tax yourself. When running the 50k, remember - it's a training run, not a race. (sometimes that's hard to do!)
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I agree, three weeks out. That's what I have and done and it works for me. As fattie said, as long as you don't kill yourself in the 50K.
I did a tough marathon (Virgil Monster Marathon) 3 weeks out from Virgil Crest 50 and recovered from it just fine. I was a little worried the week following the marathon because my quads were trashed. VMM is a double out-and-back on the biggest climb on the Virgil Crest course. So while just a marathon, I would equate it to a 50K. The pro's for me: I knew I had 3 weeks to recover/taper. It gave me a lot of confidence during VC50. I knew that section well and after having run it out-and-back twice, running out-and-back once seemed easy.
But like lace_up said, I would see how your 12/30 50K goes and adjust from there.
Base mileage is currently 40mpw. I'm just now building toward a 50k for 12/30. I want to include more prior to the 50m in April. I'm just not sure where to place the final one.
Part of the problem with asking for an opinion is that what works for people depends greatly on conditioning and experience. If you started running 1-2 years ago, then it would be unusual for a 3 week recovery to work. There are systemic (endocrine) adaptions that need to occur beyond just recruiting more fast twitch muscle fibers. If you have already run several ultras, then 3 weeks might be optimal, i.e. the last long run before the event. In the early going, the systemic aspect of recovery takes longer.
That said, you are an experiment of 1. If you have a 50K on 12/30, then run another 50K on 1/19. Whether a race or just a training run (shoot for 6 hours), on 1/19 it doesn't matter. How you perform on 1/19 will tell you exactly how much recovery you need. It is also a good stimulus, but only as long as you take 4-6 weeks of cut-back mileage and no other races following the 2nd 50K. Do that, and you should be in good shape to ramp up training ahead of the 50 miler.
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