Over the holidays, I sat down at my computer to figure out a training plan for my first 50-mile race.  After what felt like hours of research, I stepped away from my laptop just as confused as when I’d started.

Why?  The training plans for Ultramarathons are all DRASTICALLY different.  I was new to the process and while I know the basics (Run back to back long runs, include trails and hill work-outs, hydrate hydrate hydrate) I was looking for someone out there on the internet to say “This is EXACTLY what to do”.  I looked at this training plan, an article on Runner’s World, Hal Higdon, tips from Ultrarunner.  Finally, I remembered that most running routines aren’t one-size-fits-all.  I’ve been marathoning long enough to know exactly what my body needs, but there’s no cookie cutter for marathon training plans, half marathon training plans, really any goal.  You have to be specific.

Finally, I decided to start from scratch with a few things in mind;

  1. Back to Back Long Runs
  2. Increase mileage no more than 10% per week
  3. Step-back every 3 weeks
  4. Alternate which day is longer (Friday or Saturday)
  5. Train on trails whenever possible, and if not trails, then hills
  6. Include hill workouts and speed workouts
  7. Avoid “junk miles” during the week
  8. Include double days some weeks.
  9. No training plan is set in stone.   This WILL change based on how I feel.

I started my training with my current base mileage of about 50 miles per week, running easy on Monday, speedwork and or hill work on Tuesday, easy and/or trail work on Wednesday and long Friday/Saturday.

Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Plan

Looking ahead at where I hope to be in February and March, I’m terrified.  But then I remember how scared I was looking at my training plans in the past.  I would look ahead and say “there’s no way my body will be able to do that”.  But in all of the races I’ve prepared for in the past, my legs grew stronger week-by-week making each milestone attainable.  So, I’ll look at the plan day by day, and just take each run as it comes.  I have to stay connected to how I feel each day and make adjustments.

The plan is more aggressive than some others that I looked at.  Mostly because I want to give my mind and body the time to acclimate to really tough runs so that when I show up to the starting at 6am on April 14th, there’s no doubt in my mind what the outcome will be that day.   I know I’ll arrive feeling more prepared and finish feeling strong.

To anyone else starting a new training program- what scares you the most looking ahead? How do you pick your training plan?