American River 50: My Plan

It is no secret that I loooove training plans.

2011 Boston Marathon 006

I love sitting down with a blank calendar, running books, past training plans, ready to figure out what I am going to be running over the next 18, 16, 12 weeks.

Since becoming a runner, I feel like I have learned a lot about marathon training plans and can put one together pretty fast.  Pfitzinger, Daniels, Hudson… I can tell you differences between them all pretty fast and have looked at or used a version of each of their plans at one time or another.

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When I decided to sign up and train for AR50, one of the things I was most excited about was being “new” to a distance again.  I was going to be the one asking all the questions, figuring out the basics, learning about fueling, and the list goes on and on.  There is so much to learn and I love it!

Once I hit that register button, I immediately started looking for training plans (hmm well honestly I did that beforehand to see what I was getting myself into), and let me tell you, they are not as abundant as marathon training plans.  I found a few samples, but they were all SO different from each other I didn’t even know where to start.  I talked with a few friends who had done them before, read some more online, took all the training plans I could find, and sat down and started writing.

And just like that, a plan was born for my first 50 mile race.

I am now in Week 6 of said training plan and I still haven’t really talked about how exactly I am planning on training for this beast of a race, because looking at this training plan is kind of scary!  Actually posting it on the blog for the world to see is even scarier.  Plus, I have been changing it left and right, and have really just been planning out the week as I go on a post-it based on the week before and what my week looks like ahead.

Jan 004

Everyday I would open up my spreadsheet, tweak it a little bit, then close it again, trying to get it in some form of perfection, while also doubting that I had something that would get me ready.  Then a good friend of mine Joanna posted her first 50 miler training plan and it actually looked very much like the secret one I had been hiding.  I realized that maybe I wasn’t as crazy as I thought, that maybe this is just what people who sign up for 50 milers do to train.  I guess we are already just a tad crazy to be signing up for such a thing in the first place… but just a tad.  

So I decided to finally post it.  To show the world the crazy insane awesomeness that is going to be the next 3 months.  I already know of a number of runs I am going to be shifting days around, but overall this is the plan of attack.

AR50 Plan

When I put together my training plan I focused on the following:

  • Double Days: At least one double day a week.  Running on tired legs and during a different time of day then morning is a good thing.
  • Double Digits: I want to have a mid-week double digit run.  These help me a lot in marathon training and I like them. 
  • Long and Long: Back to back long runs!  This pretty much is the base of any 50 mile training program.  Run long and run long again the next day!  I put a goal mileage for these days, but a lot of this will be by feel, by the terrain and by what is going on in my life.  There is definitely room to maneuver here, especially on which run comes first in the weekend.
  • Cutback Weeks:  So far in my running years, my body has handled “higher” (relative term) mileage pretty well, but this is going to be a whole new ballgame.  I am making sure that every 3 or so weeks, I bring the mileage down to let my body and mind recover a bit and get some rest.
  • No Speed:  Some 50 mile training programs have speedwork in them and I know a lot of ultra runners that do regular speedwork and that’s great.  I don’t know how my body is going to handle all this running, so I am just going to keep most of my runs easy and build up a lot of endurance for this time around.  If I get bored I might throw in some hill repeats, speedwork or tempo runs, but for now I am not planning on it and just focusing on general running.
  • Trails:  Run on trails as much as I can!  Although my race is half on pavement, I know I have no problem getting in my pavement miles during the week, especially this time of year.  I hope to do at least one of my long runs a week on the trails and also do mixed runs so my legs get used to switching from one surface to the other.
  • Running A lot:  The miles add up pretty quick with a plan like this and I pretty much feel like I will be running all the time.   That is actually the part I am most excited about!  I don’t have anything big going on over the next couple months and am ready to devote my free time to running, recovering, refueling and resting and repeating it the next day.

As always this plan is not set in stone.  I will probably continue to get my post-it out on Monday every week and plan out the week accordingly based on how I feel and how the prior week went.  This is a good start and a good guide for me to have that I am not afraid to change as I go.  This is a learning experience and completely new territory for me, so I will be adjusting as I go. 

This is definitely on the higher end mileage wise for me, and although I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary, it’s how I want to tackle training.  As long as I treat my body well and make changes as needed, I think it’s the best way to get my body (and mind!) to the start line ready to run 50 miles.

So that is it.  It will be interesting to see how my body and legs respond, how I feel about running, how much food I will be eating and how many naps I take over the next 3 months.

And apparently I should update my race schedule for 2012… since you know, I now have two marathons and most likely a 50k in the next couple months.

I am so excited!

Are you a training plan maker?  How do you tackle training for your big goal race?

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49 Responses to American River 50: My Plan

  1. Kristin January 12, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    dang girl! that is baller… seriously can’t imagine putting in that mileage back to back! to me getting in 25-30 in a weekend is a big deal. I am hoping to do a 50K this year, but 50 miles definitely hasn’t appealed to me… injury risk and all that + even marathon training is making me miss speedwork!

    I’m totally a training plan maker and although I have done well off of self-created training plans, right now I prefer working with a coach… less obsessing on my part and it prevents me from doing only workouts I like.

  2. Layla January 12, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    Wow! The weekly mileage totals impress me (says the person who has only hit 42 miles total in a week twice EVER), but the back-to-backs scare me. LOL! But you’re off to a great start, and I have a very strong hunch that you’re going to be in great shape for April 7. I am so excited for you!!

    I’m babying my IT band and stressing a bit about my IT band, but a lot of my weekends are pretty flexible, and I’m always thrilled to have running company. I’m always willing to travel, too. Let me know if I can do anything to help you get closer to that finish line.

  3. Lauren @ Sassy Molassy January 12, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    Exciting stuff, Aron! That’s exciting! I haven’t done a 50 miler (just a 50K), but after so many marathons and being part of a Thursday night speed group, I often don’t write down my plans anymore because I sort of know what’s on deck as I increase mileage and such. That being said, I’m also not looking to PR necessarily so it’s just a matter of staying healthy and getting decent mileage in to feel prepared for a marathon. I know you’re going to rock this one.

  4. Jojo January 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    Yay! I am so happy that were more or less “on track” with our long runs, it eases my fears just a little to read your post and thoughts about training. Plan looks great and can’t wait for Napa and Golden Gate Marathons! :-)

  5. Lisa January 12, 2012 at 11:38 pm #

    I did my first marathon last November so I can’t even begin to imagine training for a 50 miler, but it’s neat to see what your training plan looks like. With so many days of running, do you ever get bored of running the same route or do you have enough places to run that it always varies? I know you said you’ll aim to run trails on the weekends, but what about during the week? My problem is that there’s only so many routes I can take from my house, especially in the winter, but I don’t like the time it takes to drive somewhere else to run.

    • Aron January 13, 2012 at 7:46 am #

      I will try to run trails when I can but with it being darker in the morning and needing to get to work, it doesn’t work out logistically. Once the time changes I would love to!

    • Aron January 13, 2012 at 7:48 am #

      OH and I do get bored of routes, but a lot of these runs I already have plans to meet people for, and then the route doesn’t matter quite so much ;) I have tricks when I start to get really burned out on routes though (run them backwards, find new ones, etc).

  6. Robin January 13, 2012 at 4:57 am #

    Wow, I love all the mileage. I don’t think I could handle such a program but can’t wait to see you do it so I have more confidence that I could do that one day. You are going to have some amazing endurance after this.

  7. Kristin @ Every Day Is Run Day January 13, 2012 at 5:04 am #

    Great looking plan! I’m also training for my first 50-miler, though I’m following a 26 week plan since mine isn’t until June. One thing I learned from my marathon training in the fall is that putting too much weekly mileage on my plate on top of work and class was very stressful. I’ve included a cutback week every one to two weeks to help me adjust to the mileage and I’m also only running 5 days a week instead of my usual 6 (Mon/Fri off). I’ve got at least 3 50ks in there (one aleady complete) to hopefully amp me up for the “big” one! I really need to get some double runs in there though. I really like that about you plan.

    Best of luck with your training!

    • Aron January 13, 2012 at 7:47 am #

      Best of luck to you too!! Making a training plan work for you is the best way to do it!

  8. Mrs.CJ2003 January 13, 2012 at 5:32 am #

    I love this post! I’ve considered doing a 50M and had no clue where to start. Thank you for sharing your training and experience with your first one! Good luck with all of the training!

  9. Holly January 13, 2012 at 6:00 am #

    Woah! big stuff! I just signed up for my first marathon in April, and I still don’t even think about it but i need to.. I’ve been semi working on a training plan and working in 2-3 half marathons in the next 15 weeks as well.. I’ve always ran based on how I’ve felt but for the first time this winter I’ve incorporated speed work but holy cannoli are the training plans stressing me out or what!!!! I wish that I could just look at my weeks and look at the calendar and have a little wham bam thank you ma’am and knock it out but I’m going like week by week hoping I don’t kill myself or psych myself out!!

  10. Kristi January 13, 2012 at 7:30 am #

    Thank you for posting this. Even though my mileage is not even close to yours, it is great to know what other runners are doing and to be inspired by your fitness!!!

  11. Laura January 13, 2012 at 8:02 am #

    I’m not going to lie – that does look insane! But I’m sure you can handle it. What an exciting new adventure! Good luck!

  12. Celinda January 13, 2012 at 8:22 am #

    Crazy Awesome!! This brings back good memories when I trained and ran AR50 last year. A lot of time on your feet for sure. The AR50 was the best ultra experience ever. Have fun on the trails!!

  13. Kristen (inspiredbydooce) January 13, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    I love following your training for this ultra :) It looks intense- but do-able…sort of.

  14. Kelly January 13, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    that looks like an awesome plan! I’m kind of putting off developing a training plan for my late spring marathon – I feel like I went wrong somewhere in the midst of NYCM training and need to figure out the problem before I solidify a plan. I do like plans though! May take a look at the FIRST plan everyone seems to be talking about!

  15. TNTCoachKen January 13, 2012 at 9:37 am #

    That is just crazy! Good luck and an intervention might be in your future……… HA

  16. Christie January 13, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    You are a machine. Good luck in this training… I am excited to follow you through this process.

  17. Page January 13, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    My jaw dropped when I saw those double weekends, but knowing you, you’ll demolish it!

  18. Rachel January 13, 2012 at 10:57 am #

    this makes me want to go back and redo my AR training! i have no doubt this is gonna put you in an amazing position to have a great race. keep it up!

  19. runinthesunblog January 13, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Very inspiring! I’m so glad you posted this… an ultra is a (way far off) goal of mine. Good luck!

  20. Karla @ myhighonlife January 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm #

    You are outstanding! I can’t even fathom a 50 mile race…yikes. I spent hours perfecting my plan for my first marathon over a spread sheet too. :)

  21. shelly January 13, 2012 at 1:15 pm #

    Looks like a serious plan. I know it will put you in a GREAT position for your race. And I agree on a 50 miler, speed is not really a concern for someone like you who is already speedy when needed.

  22. Jen January 13, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    I know what you mean about being secretive/shy about your training plan. But great job owning up and sharing it! You are the REAL DEAL my friend!! You’re doing so great. Have a wonderful weekend and happy early birthday!!

  23. @PavementRunner January 13, 2012 at 4:11 pm #

    Love it! Love it! Love it!

    I’m keeping 50 in the back of my head. I want to, but I can’t pull the trigger until I at least build up to 20+ miles this year. That means I may hit you up in February. Trust in your training!

    Several ppl have told me you are my neighbor. On one of your double days, want to log some miles? I think that might be the only way I can keep up with you. LMK.

  24. Alyssa January 13, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    This is so crazy & awesome. And I can’t wait for you to help me put together my training plan. 26.2 is going to seem like such a piece of cake for you after all of this. :)

  25. kristen January 13, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    I think your being smart by not including speed work. It’s about time on your legs and getting your nutrition right. Most ultra runners I know go by time and not miles, but I would have a hard time adjusting to that so I would probably stick with miles, but be flexible with them considering how much slower I run on trails.

    Exciting stuff!!

  26. XLMIC January 13, 2012 at 7:47 pm #

    You are such a superstar, Aron! It is so cool following your plan and seeing it all come together!

  27. Rena @ January 13, 2012 at 10:18 pm #

    Your plan looks great! I always have a really hard time coming up with training plans. I always plan too overambitiously.

  28. Sneakers2sandals January 14, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    That looks awesome! I just started on my running journey and I used a training plan to train for my first half. I was a slave to the plan but I loved going through a plan and seeing how it works! It’s nice to see someone more experienced go by training plans also. Do you recommend any books that really helped you out in the beginning? I’m trying to run my half marathon faster.

  29. Christine January 14, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    Impressive!!! This is amazing – good luck!!!

  30. SN January 15, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Good luck! From a family that does many ultras, you may want to think about cutting back some of those back to back miles near the end of training. The 30/24 and 32/20 on week after each other and so close to your race are overkill and will leave you tired on race day. You have a great attitude about adjusting as you go, so see how you feel and don’t feel bad if you ever want to cut some mileage. Just remember that you want to feel well rested and ready for your first 50 miler. You are going to do great!

  31. Marlene January 15, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    Ooooh it’s nice to finally see the plan! That mileage is crazy (in a good way) – good thing you love running so much. :)

  32. Susan - Nurse on the Run January 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

    So many miles! One of my friends is trying to convince me to a run a 50 miler in September, and just looking at that mileage has me shaking in my Brooks!

    I used to follow a plan down to the last mile, but I’m much more flexible now…I know what kind of mileage I would like to hit and what key workouts I need for the week (speed, long run), and then I just fill in the other miles. Lots of it is based on my ever changing schedule for the week and how tired I am from work!

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