Ultra Runners


First 50, just how bad will it be? (Read 543 times)

    Granted it depends on training, genetics and luck, but I'm interested in the different perspectives about just how hard your first 50 miler was.  I have my first one this weekend and when I ask my ultra buddies (who are now training for their first 100), they just smile.


    I appreciate that people repeat it, so it's doable, but as it's 18 miles longer than I've ever run, I'm wondering whether I have any concept at all about how much discomfort I'll have.  Am I going to wish I was dead?


      It will be really bad, but in a good way.



        I proved my point, 23 people looked at my message, smirked, and said nothing.


        Your post made me crack up!

        Jeff F

        Free Beer

          My first and only 50 was actually not that bad.  I found that from about 25-40 miles it just felt like my legs were tired and that I had run a marathon, but it did not get worse.  At 40 it became mentally challenging because I came to the realization that I was going to make it to 50 and I somewhat lost my focus.  I was also fortunate to not have any fueling or hydration issues which can be a real challenge if you don't manage these two very important issues.


          Have fun and make sure you post a report.

          Into the wild

            Good luck Aussie girl...come back and tell us how it went.

            Shut up and run

              Yes running a 50 will be hard.  How hard may depend on how intense you go out (and if you go out too fast).   You can't really prepare for it, but OTOH it mostly likely won't be like a lightning strike.  You will feel it coming on, but continue to push anyway.  Your mind will tell you to stop, but you won't.  You know the rest Wink

                I've done exactly one 50 miler. It was super hard. It hurt a lot. It beat the holy living hell out of me. Those things said, it was awesome, and I'm now planning my first 100.

                Sit on a potato pan, Otis.

                Gotta Flee Em All

                  I've done one 50 as well, and it was big hard. Winter, chilly, big creek crossings, ample mud and big climbs on technical single track.

                  But I loved it. I think it may be my favorite distance so far.


                  (I did DNF a 100 once @ 62.5, and they counted it as a 50, and it confirmed my joy @ 50 miles).

                    Granted it depends on training, genetics and luck,


                    Don't forget race-day preparation.  A dress-rehearsal sometime this week, on a day when you have an easy run scheduled, will quite possibly reveal something that you hadn't thought of.  I somehow always manage to F*** up by putting something in a drop bag that I should have carried with me, showing up too late to properly tape blister-prone areas of my feet, forgetting to put on sunscreen, leaving my hat at home, etc, etc.  Figure out the things that are must-haves for you:  toilet paper, lube, gels, tampax, whatever.  Aquaphor comes in a tiny travels-sized tube and can be an absolute lifesaver.  If it is a trail run, consider wearing gaiters.  If aid stations are far apart, carry a water bottle of some sort.  The last time I DNF'd it was a tough 50 miler.  I did a face plant at mile 6 that broke my waist pack.  Proceeding with 1 less water bottle cost me dearly later on.  Sometimes, the unknown unknowns will simply bite you in the ass and you will have to call it a day.


                    It is an absolute guarantee that something about the 50 will be different from the 32 miler.  But Jeff F said, as some point you will feel very fatigued and sore but it will not get any worse as long as you keep going and stay focused on the goal of finishing.  You will find a pace where you are running, even if it is slower than your slowest recovery jog, but it sure beats the pure hell of having to walk the final miles.  If you are at a very low point, try popping a salt pill and a gel with 8oz of water.  If you are at a very very low point, try two Excedrin Tension Headache pills (caffeine + acetominaphen). 

                    old woman w/hobby

                      I've only done one.  I enjoyed it for the most part even though it was very hot / humid.  Summer coastal SC.


                      My feet and ankles were beat during the last 8-12 miles.  Also, I somehow missed a turn (on a well marked city course) and so

                      added an extra 2.42miles.  


                      But I did enjoy the over all experience and am planning a 100 mileSmile


                      Good Luck!



                      Just run.

                      Jeff F

                      Free Beer

                        One other piece of advice.  If it hurts to run, try walking.  If it hurts to walk, then run...

                          It's interesting that you say it won't get much worse and it's really what I was hoping to hear.  When I did my second 50K it was overnight, and after spending the entire day running around (without shoes on [no arch support]) and then running, my feet were killing by the end of the race.  I expected it to get exponentially worse with an additional 18 miles.


                          In my first 50K I did my usual of completely ignoring blisters and destroying my feet, there's no way I could have gone another 18, two of them were on my arch and literally quarter sized.  I bought a little contact lense holder this morning to put some body glide in and I'm going to force myself to reapply it whether I think I need to or not. 


                          When it's bad I'm still going to be thinking 'holy crap I'm really doing this, how cool is this?', but it's still good for me to understand the degree of bad.  I don't want to be regretting it for 15 miles and vow to never do it again or even pull out.   One thing I have going for me is natural brute determination, I'll be the last to admit if something hurts or is hard, but 18 miles is a long additional section of running.


                          As for the Excedrine, I've never taken it but did plan on taking some ibuprofin with me, just in case.  As tragic as I sound, during my first fifty km I had a blinding headache in the middle which I quickly identified as caffeine withdrawal.  My buddy told me to take some nodose for this race and I've played around with it this week as the package says it can give you an upset stomach, and so far so good.  I took two halves within an hour and later two cans of diet coke, waay too much for my body size, so it was good to learn it early. 


                          As far as pace, I met up with some people training for their first 100's not long after I signed up for my 50 mi and their pace has forced me to run slowly.  My last marathon was boston and I had two BQ times before that, so initially I struggled with taking it easier and not obsessing over my Garmin.  I can't even run ahead of them when we run together as I lose them, so my plan is to stick with them for 25 (first loop) and then find my own comfortably slow pace for the remainder, whether I'm behind them or ahead.  I did my two 50k's with them and it's a lot of fun, but I always felt like my old legs had more speed in them at the end.  It's not that I necessarily think I can beat them, more that the forcing of a slow pace is in the forefront of my mind a lot of the time, to the extent that sometimes I feel like I'm marching on the spot, and others I'm able to keep up by walking. 


                          I've heard that if it hurts to walk then run, and visa versa, but also that if it hurts to run then run faster, because you're using different muscles (fast/slow twitch I assume).  As they say, Relentless Forward Progress and it's a good reminder. 


                          I appreciate all of the advice and well wishes!


                          Sorry for the rambling, I'm ever so slightly excited about tomorrow. 

                            One great advantage to starting slow is that on your second 25 mile loop, you can pick people off.  Catching the next person can be tremendous motivation.  Have a great race tomorrow!

                              It was two years between my two 50-milers (due to injury in 2011).  Both were hard, at times I was wondering why I was even out there, I mumbled and grumbled in my own brain, then was absolutely on Cloud 9 when I finished (especially my 2nd this past July).  I now want to run 2 next year and am hoping to run a 100-miler in 2014.


                              Good luck and remember . . . You know from the onset there’s going to be a certain amount of suck to such a distance. You just have to be prepared to take it on, but also prepared to get rid of it as soon as possible.

                              Living and Running Behind the Redwood Curtain


                              Trail Runner Nation


                              2018: Mendocino Coast 50k - April 21

                              old woman w/hobby



                                Good luck and remember . . . You know from the onset there’s going to be a certain amount of suck to such a distance. You just have to be prepared to take it on, but also prepared to get rid of it as soon as possible.


                                +1 and once again, good luck AG76!



                                Just run.