50k Training,  Trail Running,  Ultra Training

What Training for a 50k Taught Me

Well, I did it! I survived my first 50k and have fallen head over heels in love with ultra running. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. I will post my race recap tomorrow once I have all of the pictures together.

In the meantime, when I registered for the race back in December, I made a list of things that I hoped to learn while training for this new distance. I looked back at the list today to see if I had accomplished what I had set out to do:

Run trails more often I wanted to spend more time running trails to prepare properly for the race. I was able to make it out into the woods for a few hours each week—I learned to navigate trails in the dark without busting my ass with Greg on weekdays, and every Saturday was spent running long at Oak Mountain with Dan. I still have a lot to learn, but I grow more comfortable each time I hit the trails.

Relearn how to eat My biggest fear for the 50k was not that I would not finish, but that I would be crippled mid-run with nausea or stomach cramps. I changed my diet and learned to eat like an ultra runner, and have not had a single problem since.

Think in hours versus miles It was demoralizing for about a week or so to watch the time fly by but the miles drag. I’m comfortable now knowing that while I cover shorter distances time-wise, I have much more endurance than I used to.

Walking the hills HA! Walking hills is just as hard, if not harder, than running on flat stretches of road or trail. Your legs work just as hard, and often my heart rate would jump way up. The final three miles of Cheaha did not feel like a leisurely “walk.”

Cross training I did cross train more than I typically do while training for a race, but not as much as I had wanted, and I did not target my core. I was able to try some new things such as spin, strength training, and a CrossFit-type workout at IronTribe.

Running on tired legs Every week I had back-to-back or back-to-back-to-back long runs (10+ miles) as a part of my training. It was tiring, but I never felt like it was too much, and my runs weren’t sluggish. I ate well, slept more, and drank lots of water. I also didn’t go for speed on those long runs to keep my legs as fresh as possible.

Honestly, I am kind of shocked at how well my training went. I guess I underestimated what my body could handle.

Training with friends absolutely helped. I couldn’t have done nearly as well without the guidance of my trail buddies Dan, Greg, and Suman. They taught me how to run properly and made sure that I didn’t kill myself, sometimes literally catching me before I busted my face. It is so beneficial to watch and learn from others—picking up things like foot placement, fueling, and training plans.

So what’s next, you ask? The only other race I’m currently registered for is the New Jersey Marathon in May, so I’m going to work toward chasing my sub-4 goal. I’m also starting Operation Arms & Abs—two parts of my body that I dislike because I neglect.

I also did enter to win a free race entry for the Lake Martin 50 next month, so I may have a 50- or 27-miler in my near future. It sounds scary, but then again so did a 50k. I’m hooked—I was meant to be an ultra runner.

Surprise from my lovely sister and parents
Surprise from my lovely sister and parents
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