50k Training Plan – Compete

Our 50k Training Plan – Compete is designed for experienced runners looking to nail their 50k – 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 50k and run strong, whether it’s setting a new PR or competing against other runners.

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.

50k 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.

Find out other ultramarathon training plans – for different goals and ability levels – by clicking here.

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How Long?: 

Six months // 24 weeks.  

How Many Days Per Week?:

The majority of this plan features 6 days of training per week.

Speed Work

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 50k 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.  

Cross Training

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.

Long Runs

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 before your 50k. 

This Compete plan peaks out at two 27 milers, with back-to-back days behind them.

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 50k

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.  

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Check Out The Premium Version of The 50k Compete Training Plan . . .

We’ve teamed with TrainingPeaks to offer a premium version of the 50k Compete Training Plan:

Access the plan via the TrainingPeaks website and app, track your workouts in real-time against the plan, and get performance data analysis on your progress.

Check out the premium 50k Compete training plan here!

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trainingpeaks training plan

The most comprehensive plan you will find

Rated 5 out of 5
October 28, 2019

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!

Rob McCaw

Interesting

Rated 5 out of 5
May 10, 2021

Very informative!

Elmarie De Bruin

Noice

Rated 5 out of 5
November 18, 2020

Got me round me Virtual London Marathon, great plan – I did 6hrs 56min

Hugh

Amazing

Rated 5 out of 5
November 1, 2020

This is quite amazing. It will help me achieve my goal

Kelvin Kamphambale

good job

Rated 4 out of 5
October 21, 2020

Thanks for this – got me to the finish line of my marathon surprisingly comfortably!
I wasn’t sure if 3 months for a marathon was enough….I somehow scraped through in 4 hours and 20 minutes 😀

mert

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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!