Our 50 Mile Training Plan Compete is designed for experienced runners looking to nail their 50 miler – whether it’s to compete against yourself or other runners.
The plan is 6 months long and is aimed at runners aiming to continuously run their 50 miler, and finish in under 9 hours.
Once you go beyond marathon distance and stray into ultra territory, the training strategies and advice vary an incredible amount.
This training plan was initially developed by pulling strategies from a few sources, and has been refined by myself and several other ultra-runners.
Here I’ve presented my rationale for the strategy provided.
50 Mile Training Plan Compete
Who Is It For?:
Our Compete training plans are designed for experienced runners who want to challenge themselves, set a new PR, and perform well competitively.
If you’re planning to race and gain a good position, this is the plan for you.
Our Compete plans feature the most intense training regimes – there’s a lot of miles in there, different challenging workouts (speed-work), and typically only one rest day per week.
You should only attempt the Compete plan if you are starting from a solid running base, and have the time commitment and drive to really challenge yourself.
Six months // 24 weeks.
How Many Days Per Week?:
The majority of this plan features 6 days of training per week.
One day of speed work is included in this plan; this is to improve your base running speed and your running economy. Essential for a competitive runner!
Time On Your Feet
This is paramount – more important than speed or miles. It’s also the biggest commitment you’ll have to give for your 50 mile preparation.
Your body has to get used to being on your feet for hours on end, so it holds up well come race day.
Hence the huge amount of miles included in this plan. This can mean committing serious chunks of your life (weekends) to running.
An ultramarathon is all about endurance, and muscular strength makes you an endurance animal. Many runners can get by with marathon-length runs by doing only running training.
But once you are on your legs for several hours at a time, having some core strength really helps you keep your form and fuels your endurance.
Remember – your whole body is active while running, not just your legs.
I highly recommend doing cross training once per week (more if you manage), focussing on the upper body.
If you only have time for one cross-training session, focus on your legs with lunges, squats and stretching – your body will thank you when you’re 10hrs into the race.
Just like marathon prep, you should be factoring in one long, slow run every weekend. As a minimum, you want to have completed at least one 25+ mile run (50km) before your 50 miler.
This Compete plan features several 25+ milers, peaking out at 33 miles.
Another worthwhile training technique is back-to-backs. This is running two long runs on consecutive days. This technique gets your body used to running on tired legs.
I’ve included a few at the weekends as the event nears, where you have a long run on Saturday and a follow-up shorter run on Sunday.
Tapering For A 50 Miler
Tapering is the age-old marathon training technique of letting your training peak 4 weeks before your race and gradually backing off. It’s a nice rule of thumb that means you’ve given yourself plenty of time for preparation.
Tapering minimises the risk of injury prior to the race and means you should arrive at the start line in the best possible condition.
However, you’ll often find that it’s harder to apply such a rigid structure to ultra-marathon training.
Many seasoned ultra-runners barely taper at all – they might just relax a bit more in the week leading up to the event.
Download The Training Plan Here
Enter your email and I’ll send you this free training plan now, in PDF and Google Sheets formats (completely customisable), in both miles and kilometers.
The most comprehensive plan you will find
I had run a couple of half marathons and was in reasonable shape coming into the plan and it was a good rise in intensity throughout. You need to want to do an event like this – I was getting up at 3am to get my long run in before kids weekend sport etc and this was hard. When you combine the plan with the online community through the Marathon Handbook FB page and website, you get complete support. Have used this plan with great success and now looking at upping the pace in the marathon space… GREAT JOB!
I used the plan to train for my first marathon, and happy to say I hit a time of 3:58! (With a little bit of gas left in the tank) I didn’t have much of a running base when I started the plan. I had some cardio from playing rec hockey, but didn’t do any running before hand. Had enough of a base to run a 5k with moderate effort, and a 10k with high effort.
A Great Training Plan
This was a great training plan to follow. Ended up doing my 1/2 marathon in 1:58.45 which is 20 minutes better than my previous PB. Thanks a mil!!
Thanks for helping all the runners out there
Really nice work by Thomas. Everyone should download and follow his training plans.
Get out of my way
Really good book. Not a lot of extra fluff. Here is what you need to do. Now go do it. Building for my 1st marathon. See you on the other side.
Proven Training Plans by a UESCA-certified Running Coach
Every one of our training plans has been developed by Thomas Watson, a UESCA-certified running coach.
Thomas is also a podium-finishing ultra-marathon runner, and has dozens of marathons under his belt.
Each training plan has been road-tested by hundred of runners, refined and improved – and are free to download and customise to suit your needs!