40 Days from Marathon to 50k: doable or crazy? (Read 129 times)


    I went running with three other guys from work this weekend and at one point we were talking about races. I've been prodding a couple of these guys to join me for a marathon on November 10 (it would be the first one for all of us). I half-jokingly said "Then next year we'll all do the 50k!" (which, incidentally, takes place in the park where we went running).  Our other running companion (with more experience under his belt) suggested, "Why not do them both this year? They're a little more than a month apart."  My first thought was that even then it was a bit crazy, but now I've been wavering back and forth between thoughts of "Actually, with 40 days in between and not that much more distance it might be possible" and "Well, sure it's 40 days, but recovering from a marathon takes a while and this is my first one. I just don't think the turnaround time would be enough."


    So what do the more experienced racers here think? Could a first-time marathoner like me take on a schedule like that?


    The marathon is on November 10 and is pretty flat. The 50k is on December 21 and takes place in a park on trails and asphalt; it has some short, hilly portions, but noting I'd rate as too difficult. I plan to train for the marathon starting in July using the Hansons marathon plan (haven't decided yet whether to use the beginner or advanced schedule).

    Imminent Catastrophe

      Sounds like an ideal training plan for the 50k, you'll be in great shape. Just get some trail running in.

      "Able to function despite imminent catastrophe"

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        I'd say it depends on your goals for each. When I do mile repeats 2.5 minutes is plenty of time to recover between them but if I run all out for a mile race I will barely be ready to walk 2.5 minutes after I cross the finish line.


        If you want to run the fastest possible marathon you can and the fastest possible 50k that you can, then 40 days is probably not enough recovery time. If you want to do the marathon at 50k pace to (a) complete a marathon and (b) prep for the 50k then you should be ok and if your goal is just to complete both then 40 days is probably plenty of time.


          People vary greatly in recovery. Having done 14 marathons, I know I can't possibly recover from a marathon race in 40 days. I actually need maybe 10 weeks. It would be cool if you have the option to register the 50k at last minute.

            I'd think Hanson's would not be an ideal plan for any ultras.  Doesn't that plan de-emphasize the long run, and have a healthy dose of faster workouts?  Where as for a trail ultra, training for time on feet and  hills are more important criteria.  Depending on course the 50K could be hours longer than a road marathon.


            I have minimal experience with the  marathon and none for an Ultra, so what do I Know?

            And in the end...

              40 days should be fine.


              Fuck it. I'm gonna PR this fall. Let's do this.

                I ran my first marathon on 10/13/07 and my first 50k (technically 32 miles in a 6 hour event). My goal in both events was to just finish. I saved my sub-4 marathon goal for a few months later and ran one in February 2008.


                The marathon will make a great last long run before the 50k. Agree with Perfesser on getting in some trail time.

                When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

                  It's doable AND it's crazy - go for it!



                    It better be doable because this Saturday I am doing my first 50K ultra 35 days after goal marathon.  I hit the goal in the marathon but the only goal in the 50K is to not get injured and to not be DFL.  The 50K is a technical trail with a lot of elevation change.

                    You people, have issues.

                      It's doable AND it's crazy - go for it!


                      +1 to that!  40 days seems sufficient for a full-recovery and into a taper....


                      Also, you'll definitely want to ramp up your mileage May-September, the more the better (as much as you can do without injury risk).  40 days between races should not be an issue, but insufficient weekly mileage in the several months before could be much more of an issue.  (Speaking from personal experience in that regard... :-) )  A big buildup of time on feet and weekly mileage completed in the months prior will will carry you through both races well.

                      The Plan '15 →   ///    "Run Hard, Live Easy."   ∞


                        Okay, here's what I've gleaned so far:


                        (1) Under the right circumstances, this is at least possible;

                        (2) Set goals accordingly: a sub 4:00 first marathon and finishing a 50k that close together might not be in the offing (although just finishing both could be);

                        (3) Hit the trails early and often for 50k-specific training; and

                        (4) Ramp up mileage well before starting marathon-specific training as a hedge against injury; and

                        (5) Think about tweaking the Hansons plan or going with something else to account for the greater distance of the 50k.


                        That the long runs for Hansons top out well short of the 50k distance was one of the first things that came to mind for me.  Having read the Hansons book I don't know that I would say that it de-emphasizes the long run, but it definitely caps it at 25-33% of weekly mileage.  For beginners that usually tops out at 16 miles (25-33% of 48-64 mpw).  Up the weekly mileage to the 55-72 mpw range and you'd be talking about an 18 mile long run (and that might be what they recommend for the advanced plan, but I can't say for sure without the book in front of me).  But given the higher weekly mileage than some other plans the idea is that you're still getting the "time on feet" needed to make the marathon distance.


                        Edit to add: I've been running only five days per week and that was sufficient for me to have a great half marathon a few weeks ago. I have a 10k on the calendar for May and in training for that one, next week I plan to start running six days per week.  Obviously, I'd continue that number of training days when I start on a marathon plan.


                          I'm inexperienced in this area. But I read somewhere that you shouldn't consider a 50K as a race that's just a few miles longer than a marathon. It probably has something to do with the cumulative fatigue and the different terrain (trail for the ultra?).


                          in any case, if you pace yourself to go slower than originally planned, it looks doable. If you plan on running your best, then I'd say seek a coach to help you out.


                          Letting off steam

                            I think 40 days is enough to race the marathon, recover, and run (but not race) and finish the 50k.   Your other points in the summary are about right.



                              My 50k trail PR (one of the better races of my life) came exactly 40 days after I raced a marathon. The marathon was 11/23/2008 (Flying Monkey) and the trail race was 1/3/2009, if you want to look at my log to see how I approached it.


                              I would say that I didn't race that marathon totally all out, but it was a strong effort.



                                1500 miles over the course of the year averages out to less than 30 mpw. I am not convinced that that's sufficient time on your feet to be able to do a full comfortably, let alone an ultra.


                                Everyone's different, but after I finished my first full there was no way I'd have signed up for a 50K less than six weeks later. It took a good 30 fulls before I finished one and thought "I could go another 5 miles after this!"


                                For an experienced full marathoner I would say "no problem" to the timing, but for a first timer I would be more cautious.


                                I would certainly ramp up the training, especially long runs and trail runs, and presuming the ultra doesn't sell out I would not enter it until after I had completed the full and decided whether or not I wanted to run 50K shortly thereafter.