Ultra Runners

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How do you pace yourself in a ultra? (Read 97 times)

Gator eye


    I signed up to run my first 50m this fall. My usual plan of attack for marathons is to get to greedy at the start and do the first 20 to fast and shuffle my way in from there, so in order to keep my pace down and to conserve energy I decided I needed a solid plan to pace myself at the beginning so I don't burn out early. At first I thought I would pace myself by running 4 miles and walking 1, after some reading I found myself thinking running 5 minutes and walking 1 would be a better plan.

    After putting my plan to the test on the road I found staring at my watch all the time to be a BIG pain in the butt and would probably be to hard to keep track off in the last parts of the race. That puts me back to looking for something easier,  I think distance would be easier to keep track of, I don't know.

    What is a easy way to pace yourself? How do you keep track of run to walk ratio?

    5/10/14 Armada Marathon

    6/7/14 Yankee Springs Trail Run double marathon

    8/16/14 Marquette Trail 50m

    9/5/14 Woodstock Hallucination 100m


    Spring- wishful thinking

      Consistent pacing doesn't have to be limited to just time/distance run/walk strategy.  Depending on the course layout, you might find there are enough hills to make walking the hills gives you frequent enough walk breaks.

       

      If you train appropriately and have the discipline to hold a slow and steady pace, you should be able to finish with minimal to no walking.  Sounds like you may want to sign up for some "practice" 50Ks and work on executing your pacing.  IMHO, you need to first figure out how to consistently pace the marathon distance if you want to be able to race a 50 without crashing and burning.

      DoppleBock


        I personally run at an effort level close to my LSD marathon training runs - For me @ 8-8:15 pace on flat roads.  The actual pace is dictated by the trail = rocks, roots hills.  I also walk any really steep hills and take it easy on down hills.  Actual pace is not really important on trails as it changes constantly based on what you are running on.

         

        There are times where you are really tired on trails and want to walk, but if you are on a very long flattish section, you feel guilty about walking and start hoping a moderate hill will come soon, so you can walk guilt free.

         

        If the race is on roads ~ That depends on how many hills and you fitness.  I have done 1 50 miler on the roads (6:52) ~ The 1st 25 miles had 5 signifiant hills and I walked one of them.  the second 25 was pretty flattish, I ran the whole thing.

         

        One stretegy for a raod ultra would be to walk for a minute or 2 each time you come to an aide station to consume calories.

         

        Finally, I would more go off time than mileage.  Run 27 minutes, walk 3, run 27 minutes, walk 3.  This would work nice, because each time you get to X:27 and X:57 you know you walk for 3 minutes.  I personally do not need for than 3 minutes walking at a time.

        http://a-big-horse.blogspot.com/ 

        2013 Goals ~ Mar < 3:00, 5M < 29, 10k < 35  

         

          Similar to Dopplebock. I look at the elevation profile and my best guesstimate as to footing. I generally estimate approximate pace I can maintain on that in my long runs (usually 8-9 hrs), then use that to estimate duration between major landmarks - stream crossings, cabins, lakes, top of pass, whatever - that are maybe an hour or so apart. Some might be 45min, some 1.5+hrs - just enough to provide some framework. The running itself is by effort (breathing, talk test, whatever) - hike most of the ups, run most of the flats and downs. I've found some of the long uphills can be run a little bit, but hike the turning points since they're the steepest part. Usually hike while eating. Mud around scattered rocks makes me really slow on the downhills, and I've not been able to improve my pacing around that (not much opportunity to train). We don't have aid stations, so I'm carrying a pack with fluids, food, and rain gear.

           

          Effort may increase a little bit on uphills, and decrease on downhills.

           

          Note: I've only done a couple ultras by distance (50k, 50mi).

          "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog


          I'm back!

            The way to implement a run/walk ratio in a typical trail ultra is just to walk the hills, then the only question is what counts as a hill. But even if you are conservative, this will change during the race.


            Uh oh... now what?

              I never phrase this quite right -- why not train to run the whole thing, terrain permitting?

                I never phrase this quite right -- why not train to run the whole thing, terrain permitting?

                Because if the terrain doesn't permit and you haven't done the hiking and transitioning training, then it could be a really long, painful day?

                "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog


                Uh oh... now what?

                  Because if the terrain doesn't permit and you haven't done the hiking and transitioning training, then it could be a really long, painful day?

                   

                  I asked "terrain permitting" in case it is a runnable course.  I seldom think of terrain

                  when a person is planning a fixed run/walk pattern.  A fixed run/walk (walk/run?) pattern

                  goes to heck as soon as you are supposed to be walking, but you are on a downhill

                  section--or, worse yet, you are on a chin-scraper and it is "time" to run.

                   

                  I suppose it is a bad assumption to think a person knows something about the course

                  in question, but surely in this day and age, the terrain, down to a detailed profile is

                  available and should be part of the guide for training.

                   

                  I apologize.  I will rephrase it.

                   

                  If the 50-miler is on trails, it might be better to think in terms of the course will tell you

                  when to walk (perceived values of steep being subjective and totally adjustable as the

                  day wears on).

                   

                  If the 50-miler is on roads with steep (see previous "perceived...") hills, the up sections

                  still might dictate when to walk (run when you can, walk when you must... ).

                   

                  If the 50-miler is on well-groomed trails or roads (paved or unpaved) that have few, if

                  any, steep (see previous reference to seeing previous "perceived... " ) hills, why not

                  train to run the entire distance?

                     

                    I asked "terrain permitting" in case it is a runnable course.  I seldom think of terrain

                    when a person is planning a fixed run/walk pattern.  A fixed run/walk (walk/run?) pattern

                    goes to heck as soon as you are supposed to be walking, but you are on a downhill

                    section--or, worse yet, you are on a chin-scraper and it is "time" to run.

                    ...

                     

                    I was giving you a hard time, John - should've used a smiley and had just come back to clarify, but you beat me to it. Smile

                     

                    Actually, I have seen someone try to gallowalk a marathon with 3500ft of hills - 1800ft up in about 5mi was the biggy, but they were running up and walking down on some short hills before then. Strange things happen in my part of pack, although I did finish about 1 hr in front of them, just doing my thing by terrain.

                     

                    What I have noticed over the years is that many online people can't read elevation profiles or don't know how to use them in their planning. They read about the run/walk with no context and just use it.

                    "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog
                    Daydreamer1


                      I'm trying to work at this to, and I also tend to go out a little too fast. What I found was formulas don't work for trail running. As others have pointed out you have to take what the trail gives you and work with that.

                       

                      My body does not like to switch back to running after  I've been walking. That does not apply to walking up hills, just walking on the flats. At the same time if I run all of the flatter stuff and just power walk the hills then I never get my heart rate under control. I've been working on this two ways. First is to just slow my pace from running to a easier light jog, get my heart rate down then pick up the pace again. This really seems to help with endurance. Secondly I will walk for a short predetermined distance then force myself to start running again. This seems to help my body adjust to switching between running and walking. I'm doing both of these on the flats and not including the hills.

                       

                      I found that just walking on the uphills is not always enough for me on my longer runs, as most of the hills are steep enough that my HR stays up.

                       

                      Remember, it's not necessarily about speed. It's about endurance. I fight that battle in my head all the time.

                      4/20/13 Hyner 50k

                      9/28/13 Bald Eagle Megatransect (Marathon)

                      DoppleBock


                        POD ~ Take for example the Glacial Trail 50 mile.  I was pretty well trained last year - Rainagedon year (5-6 inches).  If it had not rained, I would have run all but maybe 7-8 of the steepest hills.  If I wanted to have a slower total time, I could have run 100% of the course, but for me it is faster to run harder on the runable sections and take a break by walking the steepest hills.  If it is a 50 foot verticle steep little bugger, I can walk and lose 5 seconds total time compared to running.  There have been many races, I am walking behind someone running and I lose no time on the uphills.

                         

                        So, my question back is ~ Why run the uphills when I can walk them just as fast and have a lower total time in the race becasue of the running break?

                         

                        I never phrase this quite right -- why not train to run the whole thing, terrain permitting?

                        http://a-big-horse.blogspot.com/ 

                        2013 Goals ~ Mar < 3:00, 5M < 29, 10k < 35  

                         

                        Snizzle


                          POD ~ Take for example the Glacial Trail 50 mile.  I was pretty well trained last year - Rainagedon year (5-6 inches).  If it had not rained, I would have run all but maybe 7-8 of the steepest hills.  If I wanted to have a slower total time, I could have run 100% of the course, but for me it is faster to run harder on the runable sections and take a break by walking the steepest hills.  If it is a 50 foot verticle steep little bugger, I can walk and lose 5 seconds total time compared to running.  There have been many races, I am walking behind someone running and I lose no time on the uphills.

                           

                          So, my question back is ~ Why run the uphills when I can walk them just as fast and have a lower total time in the race becasue of the running break?

                          *****sorry, swapped hard drives have messed up a few identity issues beyond my

                          *****usual problems.  Snizzle and John M. are similar things

                           

                          I put "terrain permitting" in my original response, because I think terrain should be the

                          first decision point for ultras at 100 km or less.  There are even a few hundred milers

                          that a select few get to run the whole thing... sigh, not me, never was, never will be.

                           

                          If the hills are there and need to be walked, walk them.

                          If the hills are there, but are runnable, run them (train to run them).

                           

                          Blind ignorance let me run a few grinder sort of hills (three to eight miles long) and it

                          worked out okay at the time.

                           

                          Fitness led me the run/walk thing at Le Grizz last year.  I had never considered it the

                          previous two times.

                           

                          I am (mildly) against thinking a person must walk in an ultra.  There are some that will

                          demand you walk (the terrain thing again), just as there are some you can run in their

                          entirety if you trained for it.  The modern philosophy for newcomers to ultras seems to

                          involve a) speed work is not needed, b) no one runs the whole thing, c) no one does

                          these things alone, and d) other things that are primarily age driven.

                          DoppleBock


                            I think a person should understand their fitness, their strengths as it matches up to the course and their goals.  My goal is always to either complete as fast as possible or go as far as possible (24 hour races)

                             

                            I live where it is very flat and can drive 1 hour each way to a decent WI trail.  Or I can drive 30 minutes each way to a 200 foot vertical hill that I can grind up and down.

                             

                            I am a road warrior.   I can shuffle really fast on flats or slight ups or downs.  My goals all revolve around far as possible in a 24 hour race or fast in a 10k - marathon.  My goal is not to be the best mountain technical trail runner.

                             

                            So for me, the fastest way to complete a 50M race is to walk the steepest hills.  Last year I ran similar trails once a week and I could run all but a handful of hills.  But usually I run trails once per month and I will have to walk 2 handfuls and 2 footfuls of the hills.

                             

                            Yes, I could train to run them all, but that is not my goal at this point in life.  In small 50 mile races (100 ish people) I can usually finish in top 5 and by the way I train I am happy with that!

                             

                            I am (mildly) against thinking a person must walk in an ultra.  There are some that will

                            demand you walk (the terrain thing again), just as there are some you can run in their

                            entirety if you trained for it.  The modern philosophy for newcomers to ultras seems to

                            involve a) speed work is not needed, b) no one runs the whole thing, c) no one does

                            these things alone, and d) other things that are primarily age driven.

                            http://a-big-horse.blogspot.com/ 

                            2013 Goals ~ Mar < 3:00, 5M < 29, 10k < 35  

                             


                            Uh oh... now what?

                              Wow... good comments, thank you. I apologize for any distraction I am causing here with the computer IDs and malfunctions. It is such a great topic--the running, not my computer problems.

                               

                              In the early years I was seldom able to think of my fitness/skills versus the course. There was no Internet and it was usually just a drive there, get out, and run--trying to take whatever the course would offer. If we had time, we would maybe drive the course, not often. It might be paved road one week, two weeks later mountain trails. I did not care. There weren't that many to choose. I was dumb enough to just run what was there when we got there--the American River was the longest up and down I had ever seen (paved roads on a course that is long gone).

                               

                              I did not do the goal part correctly. I seldom raced (intentionally). The one time I really paid attention was when I treated a 50-miler as a time trial. I just wanted to run under seven hours, trained for that, did it, and was sort of done with it. I mixed racing and running, something I have been condemned for numerous times. I ran with my wife when she did her first road 50-miler--went from 7:35 to 9:20ish with no regrets--we had fun that day.

                               

                              I apologize if any of my comments were taken as criticizing other training methods.  My training has seldom had method, but I tried a little of everything along the way. I did the B2B one year to see if it would work for me. It did not (the 6:31 from the previous year dropped to a 7:20something I think). I never tried the B2B again. My trial and error continues to this day. I look back on one 50-mile trail run I did and see the variation of poor planning and letting outside influences affect things:

                              1st year: 8th overall, 7:50:18
                              2nd year: almost DFL, emergency room on the way home (allergic bug bite?)
                              3rd year: wife and I ran together after running Strolling Jim the previous week
                              4th year: sub8 didn't even get me in the top ten

                               

                              Sort of like the spread from fastest to slowest--it is 5:19 between my fastest and slowest 50 km times with any number of things to blame, day of race registration being available was a monumental mistake a time or two.


                              Muddling through

                                So far the comments have mostly been about terrain and hills. With the summer heat a factor and the course being flat, would you suggest starting faster while the temps are the coolest or still try to keep a relatively steady pace? I expect high 70s at the start and near 90F at the finish. It's a 6-hour race and I'm a 5:30 marathoner.

                                2014 Goals: Run first trail ultra, first 100K, and see what I can do in a 24-Hour race

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