Optimum run/walk ratio for Ultra (Read 78 times)


    My first ultra coming up, a 50-mile. Only goal is to finish within the 13 hours allowed. Will use a run/walk strategy. What is the optimum ratio? I prefer to go by distance rather than by time. Last week I tested run 2 miles/walk 1 mile. Seemed OK, but just going on intuition, I felt I would have been better off to shorten this to run 1/walk 0.5. What do you think? Thanks!


      I would do the shorter ratio.

      Out there running since dinosaurs roamed the earth


      Train SMART

        How about run 1 mile, walk .2 miles. I think that would serve you better than walking a full mile on your walk breaks. It is just too much time off from running. Also, be sure to not be cranking it on your run intervals.

        THE RECOVERY MAN. Run Injury Free. Free Recovery Report www.smartapproachtraining.com



          Depends on the course.  Time or distance ratios do not work on a trail course.  Also might not work in a busy race.  Sometimes you get trapped into what other runners are doing.


          Yes, run/walk works very well and most do it.  I say run comfortable,  don't push it no matter how good you feel.  Ultras are about having patience.   When you do walk, keep It as short as possible  and walk as fast as you can.  Term is power hiking.  Don't get lulled into that slow walk, that is where you lose time.  Practice the transitions in training.


          Never give up on the run.  Barring injury, you can usually force yourself back into a run


          Train for a faster finish.  If you are pushing cutoffs that can be demoralizing.


          Finally,  join the Ultra runners group and check out our training thread.


          4-10-21  Zion 100 (Utah)



          Are we there, yet?

            I've found the key to my best races is to be sure I don't run so far or fast that I start to tire too soon, then walk enough to recover, but not so much that I'm losing time.  At my slow pace I find run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute works well.  That gives me an average pace of about 13:00 which would  be a little under 11 hours for 50 miles.  Presumably being faster and more fit than me, you could run farther, but you might want a slightly longer walk recovery then, maybe run 10 minutes, walk 2 minutes for a 5:1 ratio.  If necessary I adjust mid-race to run less and/or walk more.

             2021 Races:

                 05/15/21 - 3DATF 50K

                 07/03/21 - Hainesport 12-hour

                 TBD - 100K (maybe)
                 TBD - 24-hour (maybe)



              If it is on trails, then walk the uphills.  If it's not on trails, I feel sorry for you running a 50 miler on the road.


              You can start with a strategy for an ultra, but it's hard to stick with one, because a lot can happen in 50 miles.  Personally I stay under control, but I like to go out at a decent pace.  There are many ways that you may wind up having to walk a lot later in an ultra so I like to bank some time when I can. Ultras have their ups and downs, so take advantage of it when things are working.


              But it seems really silly to me to run the uphills and walk the downhills because that's what your strategy going in says to do.

              5k- 18:55 (2018)    10K- 39:04 (2017)    Marathon- 3:00:10 (2018)

                My limited experience, a 50k and a 12hr, required different strategies.


                The 50k had steady incline for first 18 miles and horrendous hills in the last 7 miles. I ran the first 18, walked a steep section for 1/2 mile and then ran the rapid decline for 4+ miles. I walked UP hill and ran DOWN hill to finish it up.


                The 12hr was on a 3.5M loop, and after the first 5 loops I began walking up the two short hills. After 50k I walked half a loop as a rest, and then went into run/walk of 2/3 run, 1/3 walk. The walks always on the two hills and a little in between, the runs always on the downhill parts.


                For me, the 2/3-1/3 seemed to be the right choice. Regarding the distance, my body likes shorter runs and recovers fast, so a 1.5M run and .5 walk would work well for me, depending on the aspects of the course. Other people might find that they need longer than 10 minutes walking to recover and prepare for the next round, so a longer interval would work better for them.


                My goal in the 12hr was to get to 50k feeling fresh-ish, like I had only warmed up. I achieved that, doing the first 50k in a little over 5hrs, but in hindsight I think I should have started out slower because I only went another 28M in the last 7hrs. Once I started walking it was hard to get running again.

                55-59 age group  -  University of Oregon alumni  -  Irreverent and Annoying


                  A few other things to consider:


                  The ratio will depend on your walking and running paces.  Say you do 12 minutes at 10 MPM and 3 minutes at 16 MPM that gives a blended pace of 10:48 MPM.  Adjust either the running speed, walking speed or ratio to get a desired overall pace.


                  During an ultra, some things are easier to do while walking, like eating or drinking.  At least some of the walking breaks should be long enough so you can eat.  For that reason, it might make sense to do shorter walking breaks and then every 1.5-2 hours, do a longer walking break.



                    Also consider walking before you get tired.  And don't waste time in the aid stations.  Take a couple of baggies with you and fill up and eat as you go.  Depending on the AS five minutes at each could eat up an hour.  Eat early and often.