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Are you looking at taking on your first 50-mile ultrarunning event? If so, I’m hopeful that the information shared on this page will help you get through the race. By knowing what will lie ahead in a 50 miler, you will be better prepared to face the challenges on the day. Taking on a 50-mile race should not be underestimated, and we’re hopeful we can offer you that little boost needed.

Believe in Your Ability

While many things factor into a successful 50-mile run, the number one recommendation is to have confidence in your ability. Believe in yourself during training and before the race, Try to surround yourself with confident individuals and block out negative comments from naysayers. Some of your friends and family will be supportive, and others might not – they might be saying that there is no way you can run 50 miles. What they are saying is, there is no way they can run 50 miles. Focus on being committed and mentally healthy to complete the task at hand.

Stay Mentally Strong

Other peoples advice may or may not be 100% right for you; however, it is a great reference point – so speak to experienced runners online – via social media or on ultra running forums. Use your past experiences of running – be that a previous marathon or a very long training run. Those who have finished a 50K or marathon can complete a 50 miler. It’s not about ability but rather desire, will power and mental toughness.

Train Tour Body 50 Miles

Try to do at least one long run per week equal to or more than 20 miles. It would be great to run a 50K as one of those long runs but not 100% necessary. Another option could be back to back long runs – so 15+ miles on a Saturday and 15+ miles on a Sunday. Back to back long runs will get your body accustomed to running on tired and sore legs.

Train your body for what you will be facing on the day of the 50 miles race. Running on diverse trails would be excellent training for runners who are not familiar with running over rocks, roots and fells. If you can’t do as much practice on trails as you would like because you don’t have access, don’t panic, you will get through this.

Prepare Your Mind For 50 Miles

It’s not only the body that needs training for a 50 miler’s rigours; you also need to train the mind. You might be at your all-time peak, physical fitness on race day, yet if something unexpected happens on race day, this could kill your confidence.

Go into depth in researching the course; event organisers will often upload maps of the route onto the event website. Study the terrain, know when you will going uphill and when you will be going downhill. Learn when and where each checkpoint, aid station and drop bag location is. If the terrain changes just after a drop bag location – say from light gravel trail to cross-country or fell segment, you might want to change into fell running shoes at the checkpoint just before.

Use visualisation techniques to train the mind, picture yourself running well in specific segments of the course and screenshot the moment you cross the finish line with your arms in the air. Positive visualisation is a tried and trusted technique which top-level athletes across numerous sports have used. Finishing the race will be the ultimate goal for the first-timer, especially when many ultra events have a high Did Not Finish percentage.

Having another goal other than finishing the race maybe also be beneficial. Run for a friend or somebody who can’t run, run for a family member who has impacted your life like – this could be your grandfather who fought in WWII, picture the bravery and what he did, run to make him proud.

Break The Race Down Into Smaller Chunks

Don’t look past the first mile at the start of the race; don’t think too far ahead, as it can be intimidating if you are new to ultra running. Being scared is something you can not allow, and looking at the entire distance can be counterproductive. Run in the knowledge that you will be out there all day and in beautiful surroundings.

If you do like to think about runs in miles, then maybe look to break it down. Instead of thinking – OMG 40 miles to go after you pass the 10-mile checkpoint, think, right okay just four more of those to go. Break it down into 5-mile segments, 10-mile segments half-marathon segments – whatever works best for you.

As you approach the last few miles, it will become more about the mind than the body. Never let failure or negative thoughts enter your head, stay positive, and you will get through it. The brain will play tricks on you, and it may try to convince you that you can’t go on, you can, ignore those thoughts. You will overcome that by running, walking or crawling forward at an end, crossing the line any way you can be that a slow jog, walk or crawl – the pace is not essential. The old saying, it’s a marathon, not a sprint never rings even more true – after all an ultramarathon, not a marathon.

Final Thoughts

Remember to take care of yourself while running and others around you – ultrarunning is a friendly community of people, if you see someone in need, stop and help them. Carry water, eat what you can at the aid stations and wear the proper clothing needed for the conditions. 

  • Prepare your body and mind for the long run ahead.
  • Focus on the race and the next mile or segment.
  • Push out negative thoughts, stay positive.
  • Research the race, learn the course, the checkpoints and the terrain.