wannabe ultra runner?

share your ambitions/goals/training here on a 'newbie ultra' thread........

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08/05/2014 at 13:35

Timings for running an Ultra. 

How do you plan your race pace for an ultra? especially when it's the first time you are doing x distance?

.... (you can just answer that or read below to see the really bizarre reasons i'm asking)

The reason I ask is that i'm doing a new distance and I came up with all sorts of ways of working out how to get to the end in X time. So what I was going to say originally was below, raving on about my plans to do plan 1,2,3, or 4.... But in reality that's not what I want to ask I don't want to ask how do i run my race.  I know that is something for me to decide and get right or wrong But i'm curious how others come up with a time and say i want to do it in this time. Do you decide what pace you can do first or do you quietly pick a time in your head based on experience and then work out a time based on that.... What goes through your head? In this case for me. I know what the official cut off time is, but i've made up my own pretend cut off time, that's when I want to finish if it goes wrong i'll carry on and finish hopefully by the official time, but i'm curious how others come up with their plans.

so this is the waffle that I was first going to ask.... But i'm not asking just showing how my brain works and wondering how everyone else does it

I know you start off usually on the very conservative side.  But if you are setting yourself a goal time would you plan for a slow but evenly paced race, or would you plan i'll try to do x at this speed, then y at 2nd speed, then z at crawl speed? 

I'm just after other peoples way of doing these things being nosey / seeing what seems to work the best.

The reason i'm asking is i'm doing 'The Wall' yes I know it's over priced, but it looks fun, so I've paid for it, around £115 so yep expensive, but hey it was my choice. This isn't about the cost of ultras ..... sorry back on point.....

So it's 111 KM. It begins at 7 am and yes you can take until the next morning 9am i think so 26 hours. But, my unofficial target time i've set myself is to finish by midnight which is 17 hours.

So I have come up with three theories on running it.....  and was wondering if any of the tree make any realistic sense or if i'm talking utter bollox and should just STFU and just see what happens on the day

Plan 1: I starting thinking about it as running around a marathon at Marathon plus 30-45 minutes speed, and then mentally splitting what is left into three 20 odd km chunks with planned speeds for each of them, slowing down a minute per km for each of these 20 odd km chunks, no idea if i'd be able to keep these up, but that was my first hair brained theory.

Plan 2: The second plan was well 7.2km per hour would get me there in 15.5 hours so gives me an hour and a half to play with. 7.2km If I tried run walk would be 48/12 per hour and would just be 8 minute per km for the running chunks, and marching at 10min km for the walking section.

Plan 3: Similar to plan 2, Go out a bit quicker around 8 to 8.5km per hour know i'll be tired a bit quicker than with Plan 2, but i'd have more time in the bag to slow down and still get there in my arbitrary goal time.

Plan 4: Plan to get to half way in say 8 hours feeling as rested as possible, and go from there winging it.



08/05/2014 at 14:15

BT - you're talking utter bollox and should STFU !!!!!!

I cant really offer your any useful advice as I haven't yet run my first ultra but I will be running a 50km in June. I, too, am having similar thoughts at the moment and I've come up with this.

My marathon pace is 8:18mm and for some reason I have decided that my 'general' pace for the 50km is going to be 9:30 - 10:00mm. In the first half of the race there is a drag that lasts for about 3 miles and I have decided I am going to run this. So, my plan is to get to half way in around  2.5 hours. In the second half of the race there are 3 climbs, 2 of which I completed in a training run last week. They are hard, steep and rocky so I think I will be walking up all of them at an estimate of 20:00mm. So, if I can maintain my pace on the rest of the route I reckon I will come in around 6:00 hours and that is including 30 minutes for anything that might occur en route.

I have based my timings on my one and only marathon which was Manchester last month in which I finished in 3:38.

I expect I am being very niaive as I am expecting the race to go according to plan i.e. I have not taken into account things like toilet breaks, stopping at checkpoints, eating and completely blowing up and having to slow down.But, it's my first ultra so I guess I'm going to learn a lot and possibly the hard way.

Any thoughts and feedback on my plan would also be very appreciated.

08/05/2014 at 14:20

08/05/2014 at 14:25

So I have now invested in a trusty foam roller and followed the videos on runnersworld, think i'll roller until i get to see a physio and then hopefully i can at last...get out and RUN!!!!!! ( frustration )

08/05/2014 at 14:28

Dank - the roller is what's keeping me going. Even when you have been to the physio and feel better I would suggest you carry on rollering 

08/05/2014 at 14:41

I think i will, just rolled for the first time, and it's loosened it nicely! I wonder if I should go to get another gait analysis and get new shoes, even though mine are only 150 miles run in.....


08/05/2014 at 21:18

BT - love the thought options!!  For me, if the event is hilly - like Lakes or Cheviots I use a kind of 'runners Naismith Rule' totally off my own concoction, is it's 10 mins  extrafor every 100m ascent if walking, so I make it 5 mins, I also allow this for descent too, especially in latter stages of race. I also add in times for checkpoints - say 5 mins for most of them but definitely at least one longer one where I might be collecting kit. I have never managed negative or even splits, I usually start off assuming 9-10mm, and then randomly add on extra minutes to miles the further through the race I go!! - random or what??? If it's a race that requires proper map/compass navigation then that all usually gets thrown out the window. I was thinking while out on my long run last week (24 miles), if I could work on 6mph with nature breaks and check points to start with that might work. Ultimately I just come up with a rough guess based on all of that and sometimes it's not too far out ... Apart from the one in the Cheviots where we ended up doing micro navigation, in the dark, on the tops, in fog ... Took way loingerthan predicted, that one I was just glad to finish

08/05/2014 at 21:21

Need to work out for Great Glen Way, slightly worried as first 30 miles are on Caledonian Canal, and that is pretty flat, definitely going to have to factor in walk breaks to stay in one piece, have never done an ultra with such a big flat section in it!! That won't be a problem for the 3x3000 in the lakes in October!!

08/05/2014 at 21:21

Re: timings- allow for a few minutes at each CP- unless you really believe you're just going to power through without sitting down! I have taken to changing my socks evry 20 miles or so- feels great, but takes 2-3 minutes.

I think most people slow spectacularly during an ultra, although, perhaps for a 30 miler, you won't necessary slow that much more than in a marathon, as long as you start out a little slower.

For anything over about 40 miles, I think drastic slowing is inevitable, and unlike a marathon , I don't think a negative, or evensplit is even remotely possible for mere mortals.

08/05/2014 at 21:37

FWIW, I've never changed socks or shoes on an ultra - and that's up to 28.5 hours! If it's going to be wet then get some good draining shoes and get used to it... Get any grit out ASAP.

get out of aid stations quickly, it'll save you loads of time and later on, the mental aspect is critical. It's a warm place and often filled with people who are dropping. 

I don't slow drastically really, for a sub-24 100 my aim was 50 in 10 hours. On my first I got there in 9:45 and passed 100 in 21:43... but I start at the back, really slowly and let the speedy people go. some people like to go out hard early and tough-out the later sections - that's not my style, I prefer I more consistent, enjoyable race i have tried the go hard option, and it's not for me

08/05/2014 at 23:13

Carterusm: you're probably being a bit conservative there for a 50K. For my first 50K ( I just tried to set a pace slower than my mara pace - I think I chose c. 9.00 - 9.15 minute miles - and tried to stick with that, with minimal stops at checkpoints - and I did, pretty much and came in in just over five hours (Garmin said I averaged 9.21/mile overall) - and my GMM time was 3.47 (admittedly in 2012 with the cold and the rain and the gale-force winds). Similarly for a 30-miler, although I went a bit too fast for a while and paid for it later with my pace dropping to 9.30-10.30/mile. Which at least taught me a lesson, so NDW50 I set off more conservatively, aimed for under 10 hours, allowing for up to five mins per aid station (not that I took that long at most of them) and came in in 9.53, so I was pleased with that.

I never have managed to make myself do a set run/walk, rather "walk the hills", although on NDW50 I was leapfrogging with someone who was running faster than I was when he was running, but was walking I think 1 in 10 or 2 in 10.

08/05/2014 at 23:15

Thanks cragchick, tricialitt,cand GeeeM 

it's really useful just knowing hoe others think, it all helps us less experienced get our head around it.

i'm thinking a but like cragchicks method add a but here n there, and come up with a random figure  

08/05/2014 at 23:25

Glad you like my thinking . I have never change shoes or socks actually, but on sdw I did dry off and re-talc my feet. Aside from sorting out a foot problem (eg blisters), I NEVER sit down. Is amazing how quickly you can lose time in checkpoints just choosing food and water bottle refilling. I try and go allow but think I don't go slow enough. So this year I will work on r-e-a-l-l-y slow and being super-organised at CP's. That said, on ultimate trails 100km last year I was steadily picking IDF people over the last 10 miles with my power-stomping and jogging so can't be getting it too wrong. I am unlikely to ever go out all guns blazing though!

09/05/2014 at 07:50

I have never done an ultra with indoor checkpoints- thst must be a whole different ball game- my longest race finished in darknesss, but the last stop was reached just in the day time, and the CP's were just by the side of the path. I only sat down to fiddle with my feet, and to re- pack my bag, but still takes a couple of minutes. To sit and rest would be fatal!

I have no idea about pacing, but the last one worked out better than others- 57miler, starting at marathon pace plus about 30 mis for the first half, and then whatever after that, but alll run- walked from the start, and I was moving past a lot of people in th elast 5 miles.

I am striclty back - of the pack, so I am working on just trying to get round without fear of being near cut- offs, and enjoying myself. I suspect that those nearer the front would wanta more aggressive strategy than me.

09/05/2014 at 11:18

Yeah I'm going to try my first run / walk full test run in training this weekend.

I think i'm doing 4/1 as my R/W strategy.

going to get some stick walking after 4 minutes of 69 miles, so might skip the first one or two

09/05/2014 at 11:35
My first in a series of articles about why I run and how I choose my races, feel free to share of you think anyone will like it
09/05/2014 at 11:46

GKD - Unless Its deliberate and I've missed something, 'failure' in the title is spelt wrong! 

Look forward to hearing how it goes though - that's a massive challenge.  And I completely get you on the fear front. 


10/05/2014 at 18:04

good grief what the heck is going on here ????! I turn my back for a minute ( well ok bit longer than that ) and the thread is full of what can only be described as essays !!

ladyfunrun, what ultra are you entering ?

10/05/2014 at 18:06

Taking into  account what uncle GKD has done so far I think he has earned the right to spell 'failure' any which way he likes id say ..........  

11/05/2014 at 06:21
Oops unfortunately that one's down to the run247 editor, I'll pass it on though
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