Wrapping My Head Around Running 50 Miles

I’ve done it. I’ve committed to running the Resurrection Pass 50 Miler in July.

Well, as much as I can commit anyway, since it’s an extremely low-key race with no “official” registration. When I sent an email to the race director this week saying that I’d like to register, this was the entirety of the response that I got:

There’s no formal registration or entry fee.  Just show up around 5 am at the start to sign up.  In lieu of an entry fee, a much appreciated donation of $20 at the finish to help cover aid station expenses, etc. is accepted.  Let me know if you have questions re aid stations, course, start/finish locations, etc.  You have to be self-sufficient for the 38 miles of trail, although there are several stream crossings where you can access water.

This is essentially a “fatass” event, where there’s little-to-no support, no fees and no awards. Just a group of runners getting together to have a good time and run a lot of miles. Looking at the results from last year, there were 30 runners for the 50 miler, so it’s definitely not a huge event, but that’s just fine by me. And it looks like a perfect race for my first ultramarathon. In a subsequent email with the race director, after mentioning that this would be my first 50 miler, he replied with this:

The Res Pass is a good race for first time 50 milers, as it is a very runnable trail without a lot of climbing to get over the pass. We have lots of first time 50s in this race, and seems all of them end up finishing.

Long before I committed myself to running this race, I started consuming every bit of information I could find on what it takes to run 50 miles. From books, to blogs, to podcasts, I’ve been immersing myself in the world of ultrarunning. I’ll put together another post on resources for ultrarunning, but for now I’ll just touch on a few of the most useful things I’ve read lately.

  • iRunFar.com – pretty much THE website for ultrarunning. Tons of information on the “hows” of running an ultramarathon, with lots of interviews with seasoned ultrarunners that are chock-full of useful info.
  • Relentless Forward Progress – written by Bryon Powell of the previously mentioned iRunFar.com, this book takes all the great content from his website, and organizes it into easily-digestible book form. This book is mostly aimed at new ultrarunners, and covers everything you need to know to run your first ultramarathon, from training plans, to nutrition, to handling aid stations. If you are even thinking about running an ultramarathon, I can’t recommend this book enough.
  • Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters with the Ultramarathon – this book isn’t so much about the “hows” of running an ultramarathon as it is the “whys”. It’s full of personal stories from everyday runners who have overcome the seemingly insurmountable challenge of running an ultramarathon. I’m actually only about halfway through this book so far, but I’ve enjoyed it immensely, and have found a lot of inspiration in reading stories from “regular” runners such as myself. It makes me realize that running 50 – or even 100 – miles isn’t the impossible feat that it seems like at first.

I’m still going back-and-forth about following a traditional training plan. As I’ve written about before, I’m a big fan of the “no plan” plan. But obviously, running 50 miles is a whole new ballgame for me. I’m still heavily leaning towards not officially following a plan, but at the very least, I’ll be trying to follow the general mileage laid out, most likely from the 50 mile training plan in Relentless Forward Progress. I certainly plan to take this training seriously, but at the end of the day, I run because I enjoy it. And I still feel like having an official training plan to follow would make it feel more like a job.

6 thoughts on “Wrapping My Head Around Running 50 Miles

  1. Whoo hooo! 50-miler heading your way!

    As for a plan, you know that I’m a proponent of the non-training plan. The key thing for a successful ultra seems to be running on tired legs, mainly through back-to-back long runs. If it were me, that’s probably the structure I’d impose on myself, while leaving the rest to my “run as much as I safely can” mindset. Aron, aka RunnersRambles.com, has a pretty detailed plan for her upcoming first 50-miler, and she’s done well at sticking to it. She always has a full training plan for every race, though, so I don’t think that’s what you’re looking for — but it might be worth checking out just to get some ideas.

  2. I AM SO EXCITED!!!

  3. Why, are you running it too? 😛

  4. oooh, don’t put ideas in my head. I’m so not in shape for 50 miles.

  5. Sounds like a great event. I wish it was cool enough around here to train for something mid-summer!

  6. Brandon,
    So glad you enjoy iRunFar and found Relentless Forward Progress useful.

    Congratulations on the amazing journey you’ve already made!

    -Bryon

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