If you have completed a marathon or two, you can, in 20 weeks, add a 50 mile race to your running resume. What is an ultra-marathon? Anything beyond the classic 26.2-mile distance–races from increasingly popular 50-Ks to 100-milers are considered ultra-marathons.  If the Bison 50 is your first race on the far side of 26.2, we suggest that you count back 20 weeks from race day, print the training plan (scroll down) and get to it.

Prepping for a 50-miler is much like marathon training, but with fewer and slower intervals and somewhat longer (and slower) long runs spiced with walking breaks. Our plan offers enough miles in the proper dosages to prepare you for your first 50.

Time on your feet is the most important part of training for an ultra. Speed, or even distance, is not the first priority.   The core element in getting you ready is the long run “sandwich”: back-to-back long, slower runs on successive days (likely Saturday and Sunday) bookended by two days of total rest.

You’ll be doing a bit of long, but not-so-fast interval work to boost muscle strength, stamina, and aerobic capacity. This will also keep you from settling into a semi permanent slow slog that makes a 12-minute pace feel like a 100-meter dash.

Additional tips:

Run Trails And Streets Train on the terrain you’re going to race on. Trails and streets are both in the Bison 50

Take Walking Breaks “Stopping briefly for walk breaks in both training and racing is the key to being able to move forward at all times,” says ultra-runner Becky Johnson, who finished her first 50-miler in 2003.

Find A Rhythm One popular run/walk pattern is to run 20 minutes, walk five minutes. Do this from the outset, or after you’ve run the first 15 or 20 miles, or whatever pattern has worked best for you in your training. Some prefer a shorter mix of running five minutes, then walking one, believing that this is less stressful than the 20:5 pattern. Note: Walk all inclines, even the small ones, even if it means short-circuiting a run segment.

The 20-week schedule below is for runners who are running 15 to 18 miles for their weekly long run. CLICK HERE FOR PDF

20 Week Training Schedule