Pacing a 50 miler

Looking for advice/info/experiences please

1 to 20 of 25 messages
11/09/2012 at 17:48

I'll be attempting my first 50 mile run this weekend, and like the title says, I'm looking for some pacing advice. I've done a couple of ultras before now - 33 miles on roads and gravel paths which I got on fine with, and 40 miles offroad on a rather hilly course, which I really struggled with, probably because it was pretty much my first attempt at offroad running. The 50 miler will be all on road, and apart from a couple of minor inclines is practically pancake flat.

To give some idea of what speed I'm going at, my last (mostly road) marathon time (2 weeks ago) was 4:17. Was running at an average of 9:23 min miles, aiming for 4:05-ish and feeling very comfortable till my knee fell apart at 20 miles. Definitely didn't run out of steam or 'hit the wall' or anything like that.

Anyway, I put 4:17 into the McMillan pace calculator thingy and for 50 miles it gives me a pace of 11:26. If I put in 4:05 (which without the sudden injury I'm certain I could have achieved), it gives me a pace of 10:52.

Firstly, is it sensible to base my pace on an online calculator? Secondly which pace should I be aiming for, the slower or the faster one? Any and all advice and personal experiences will be very gratefully received. Thanks in advance!

 

GKD
11/09/2012 at 18:04
Go out slowly. If you feel like you're going a little bit too slow, slow down.
GKD
WiB
11/09/2012 at 18:13

Unless you are really racing to be competetive then you really do need to keep yourself under control early on. Like Lirish says, if it feels slow then slow down a touch more and you have it! you will gain far more time in the last 20 miles than you will in the first!

WiB
GKD
11/09/2012 at 18:24
Don't expect to get your pacing right first time out at the distance, you will mess it up but by forcing yourself to go slowly for the first part you can gauge how much you have left in the tank for the second
GKD
11/09/2012 at 18:35
Lirish wrote (see)
Go out slowly. If you feel like you're going a little bit too slow, slow down.

Very good advice, but this is why I'm trying to figure out a slightly more precise pacing schedule based on what I'm running for marathon distance. My first ultra, I followed all advice to go out slow, and then slow down some more. Plodded round at the rear of the field then with four miles to go realised I was still full of beans. I overtook at least half a dozen people in the last half hour as I was galloping for the finish. My mile splits for that one were rather comical!

WiB
11/09/2012 at 18:39

Well what is the terrain like? flat or natural walking breaks for steeps climbs?

Do you think you can run at 2 minutes off of your marathon pace if it is a reasonably flat course? If you are looking for a precise time I don't think anyone here can tell you to run at xx:xx pace. If you feel you can run at 11:30 mm then set out like that and see how it feels?

WiB
11/09/2012 at 18:41
WiB wrote (see)

Unless you are really racing to be competetive then you really do need to keep yourself under control early on. Like Lirish says, if it feels slow then slow down a touch more and you have it! you will gain far more time in the last 20 miles than you will in the first!

WiB, I'm not overly competitive (apart from with myself) and I'm definitely not racing. I'll have no trouble staying slow, I'd just like some rough indication of HOW slow. I was actually thinking of 10 hours for the whole thing, which would be 2 hours for each 10.3 mile loop, which would be roughly 12 min miles, but I don't know... Seems just a bit TOO slow...

11/09/2012 at 18:46
WiB wrote (see)

Well what is the terrain like? flat or natural walking breaks for steeps climbs?

Do you think you can run at 2 minutes off of your marathon pace if it is a reasonably flat course? If you are looking for a precise time I don't think anyone here can tell you to run at xx:xx pace. If you feel you can run at 11:30 mm then set out like that and see how it feels?

Sorry, I thought I'd said... It's practically flat as a pancake - a couple of very gradual rises and one minor incline. I'm expecting to be running into a headwind for about 3 miles of each 10 mile loop, but just how windy it'll be I won't know till the day.

I know nobody can give me an exact pace to run at, I was just looking for some anecdotal advice really. I do think I could run at 2 mins off my MP, but what would I know, as I've never tried it for 50 miles before!

11/09/2012 at 18:52

There's also a small but very definite chance my knee will blow up again and I'll be chucking it after 20 miles! Which won't be a problem as it's not a point to point course so I won't be stuck in the middle of nowhere. I'm aware I probably sound clueless and unprepared but I'm not as dumb as I sound, honest. It's just that this isn't a 'serious' race, it's a local charity fundraiser, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to practice pacing and running at a set pace rather than my usual of just setting off and making it up as I go.

GKD
11/09/2012 at 19:35
Rwd it may be easier to work back from a time you'd be happy with and pace from there. Say if you thought a ten hr 50 would be good work out your pacing from that, if you have more left in the tank at 30 miles then pick it up a bit
GKD
WiB
11/09/2012 at 20:03
runs-with-dogs wrote (see)
WiB wrote (see)

Well what is the terrain like? flat or natural walking breaks for steeps climbs?

Do you think you can run at 2 minutes off of your marathon pace if it is a reasonably flat course? If you are looking for a precise time I don't think anyone here can tell you to run at xx:xx pace. If you feel you can run at 11:30 mm then set out like that and see how it feels?

Sorry, I thought I'd said...

You did say... it was me not paying attention!

WiB
11/09/2012 at 20:22
WiB wrote (see)
You did say... it was me not paying attention!

LOL!

11/09/2012 at 20:36

Okay, I'd be happy with 10 hours.

And it's actually 51.5 miles - 5 loops of 10.3 miles. So if I plan on running 11.30 min miles, that would be barely less than 2 hours for each loop, not giving me much time to stop for a nibble. Wonder if I should eat on the hoof or aim to get round each loop in 1hr55 and have a proper pit-stop each time.

Lirish - I like your idea of seeing if I can pick it up a bit at 30 miles, but in reality, once I've been running at whatever pace for nearly 6 hours, the chances of my speeding up (apart from in the final two or three miles) are probably very slim.

I think I'll aim for two loops - 20.6 miles - in 3:55 and assess from there. Thanks for the input both of you.

11/09/2012 at 20:46

Take into account stationary and walking time too. If 11.30 will get you round in 10 hours then you'll need to run a fair bit quicker because you will want to walk bits and you probably will benefit from a sit down at some point.

If you are able to measure distance then I found breaking it down into small chunks really helped with pace. For me my goal was to cover 4k each 30 min, which on a flat section would give me 3-4 mins walking to help keep things fresh.

Being fresh at the end of a 33 (assuming that's the one you were talking about) doesn't mean you'll feel the same towards the end of a 50. IMO you will gain more and feel like you had a better race if you keep it steady until the end rather than romping the first 40 and having to walk lots of the last 10.

It's all pertty personal though so just take it as it comes, learn from it and try to enjoy it.

GKD
11/09/2012 at 20:47
Rwd you'll have highs and lows in a fifty too that you'll need to deal with, first twenty concentrate on sticking to your pace plan, after that be prepared to listen to your body and adjust accordingly. Don't be afraid to exploit the times you're feeling great and don't beat yourself up if you feel crap and slow down. Whether you feel great or shit in an ultra you can be assured it will pass
GKD
11/09/2012 at 21:40

Yeah, I kinda expect to feel pretty crap from 20-25. That seems to be my 'low point' when I know I'm not stopping at 26.2. Then after 30 I seem to perk up again.

Thanks for the advice Shawk. And I wasn't exactly 'fresh' at the end of the 33 - just fresh enough at 30 to romp home. After that I was pretty buggered. LOL!

 

meface    pirate
11/09/2012 at 21:56

So you have never done a 50 miler and want to know how to pace it - slowly - you are guaranteed a PB if you finish.

My marathon PB is 3:57 and my 50 mile PB is 12:30 ish. Simply put I run very little of a 50 although ones I have done (6) are all hilly, trail and with navigation + some darkness. Fastest 30 is 5:42 again all trail + navigation.

As has been said you can lose a lot of time in the last 20 if you go out too fast.

I can't run at 12mm it is just too slow. In fact I struggle to have much of an effective run slower than 10-10:30mm. Steady walk for me is 15mm and powering along on the flat I walk at 13:40mm.Anything inbetween is netiher an effective run or a comfortable walk - the run just seems to waste energy for little extra forward motion. So can you actually run this slowly?

So my first question is - how fast is your walk. Then consider walk/run ratios to achieve goal pace. I can handle 12mm on the second half of an Ironman marathon which is basically walk 7:30 minutes, run 2:30 minute (or 4/1 ish)

The walk breaks also give you a great opportunity to drink/eat - definitely think about eating/drinking on the move. It saves a lot of time and stops you stiffening up. Save the stopping time for sock changes and/or trainer changes if going round a loop.

I find it quite easy to pick up pace in the last 20, I am bored with walking so run for a break. I wouldn't say I sprint for home but probably manage more jogging in the last 20 than the first 30.

Note: Walking does not mean moving at shopping speed!

meface    pirate
11/09/2012 at 22:10
runs-with-dogs wrote (see)

. And I wasn't exactly 'fresh' at the end of the 33 - just fresh enough at 30 to romp home. After that I was pretty buggered. LOL!

Ooh Central Governor Theory?

Brain restricts max HR and muscle output to protect you due to brain's perceived damage that you are going to do. At some point it decides you will get to the end and therefore lets the brakes off to get it over with as quickly as possible.

12/09/2012 at 06:02
Yes, exactly! Mind plays sneaky tricks on body. I've read a bit about that and it fits well with my own experiences of thinking I'm utterly f**ked then somehow managing a ridiculously fast final mile.

I'm not sure how fast I can walk as I've never tried a run-walk strategy. Brisk dog walking is something like 16:30 min miles and I could prob speed that up a bit if I tried. But as I've never walked fast in a race for more than a few minutes at a time, I'd be worried it might actually wear me down quicker than running would, as it would be using muscles in a way that I simply hadn't trained for. Don't know if that's a reasonable assumption or not. I may be totally wrong there.

And I can run VERY slowly - 11:30+ min miles, which I call my granny shuffle and which probably looks more like a rolling walk than a proper 'run'. I'm happy eating on the move and have been known to knock back jam sarnies halfway round a marathon without slowing down. I'd say ultra nutrition is maybe my strongest point, as I've practiced carefully, I'm a bit of a piglet and can stomach just about anything!

Thanks for your input - its very useful to get an idea of what sort of times other people can run. My 33 miler was 5:56, and at that point my marathon PB was 5:35. That day I got to 26.2 in about 4:40, and the next marathon I did after that I got down to 4:25. Have since got down to 4:17 and that's all in the last 6 months so am still improving yet. My 40 miler took 9:20 and like I said I really struggled with running offroad on a muddy and hilly course due to complete lack of appropriate training. Won't make the same mistake again, that's for sure!
GKD
12/09/2012 at 06:26
Your 33 mile was 5.26 and your 40 miler 9.20? Were you carrying someone?
GKD
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