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50 miler to 100 miler

Joined: 16 Mar 2008
Posts: 1
Arizona, United States
Posted: Sun 16 Mar 2008 05:08 pm GMT   topTop
I have run several marathons, including a couple of difficult trail marathons, but am now training for my first ultra. This is a 50 miler on an extremely hilly trail course. The 50 miler is Sept. 19, 2008.

I want to run a 100 miler as well, this being my ultimate goal. There is a 100 miler I would like to do in early November.

I really don't want a DNF my first time out. However, I'm 47, have had 6 knee surgeries in the distand past, and feel my opportunities for ultras may be in a narrow window.

My question is, since this is my first ultra season, and being a tenacious, but not particularly gifted trail distance runner, can I run the 50 miler, and follow with the 100 miler around 6 weeks later? Is this too ambitious? Or would I have adequately recovered, and this time between runs being optimal?

I welcome any and all comments.


Joined: 28 Nov 2006
Posts: 35
Arkansas, United States
Posted: Mon 17 Mar 2008 12:57 pm GMT   topTop
First, and foremost, I disagree with the assumption that age 47 puts you in a narrow window of time to have a shot at a hundred. That attitude will give you a sense of urgency that will sabotage your training and planning. Mid-to-late 40's is the "prime" of many top-flight ultra-runners. No, not the top 20 "Elite" but many, many excellent runners. Your history of not having pounded your skeleton over the LAST several decades is also on your side.
I don't know anything about your level of fitness but a big part of getting ready for the 100 is learning the many things you must know about pace, fueling, hydration over LONG distances, pain issues, mental attitude, planning etc., etc. These things are learned in 50 K and 50 mile races. Most of us find that the step from 50K to 50 miles is a step into a whole, different universe.
I've never done a 100 but I'm hopeful. I wouldn't have had one, tiny little prayer of finishing 100 in the same YEAR after my first 50. You should spend the weeks after the 50 M digesting what you learned and planning the next 50. If you hope to finish your first 50 M, on an "extermely hilly" trail course, without having to give the toughest athletic effort of your life, you're going to be disappointed.
There is a school of thought that would say that if you finish the 50 miler just dying to go farther and if you won't be devastated if you DNF the 100, go on out and see what the 100 teaches you. And that approach may fit your personality. I think the average newbie, even if a very gifted athlete, would be courting disaster with this plan. The key to this sport is to enjoy the races and the key to that is learning how to maintain a reasonably comfortable pace for many hours. It has to be learned through experience. Don't be in too much of a rush to get that experience, because it just doesn't work that way.
Learn to love the sport, first. Then PLAN your 100 very carefully.
One more time: 47 is NOT Old for an ultra runner.
Good luck to ye.
Joined: 14 Sep 2006
Posts: 7
Virginia, United States
Posted: Mon 17 Mar 2008 06:03 pm GMT   topTop
I'm 47, too (but without the knee surgeries!). I've run lots of 50's over the last few years, plus one 100K and one 70-miler (and one tough 100K DNF at mile 42). Running 50 can be actually be enjoyable, if I'm sufficiently trained and prepared. But running over 50 miles adds another dimension. It takes a solid mileage base, the ability to deal with darkness, changing weather conditions, and possibly hours of solitude...AND knowing how to fuel your body (hydration/nutrition/electrolytes) in order to keep going.
My advice would be to continue training for the 50-miler. Your body will start to adapt to the miles. Of course, it will be easier on your knees if you can train mostly on trails. You don't have to run really high-mileage* to get ready, but you'll need some longer "time on feet" runs, mixing running and walking -- even better if you can do them on trails similar to the ones the race will be on. Keep reading and getting advice from other ultrarunners, and use the things you think will work for you! *(For a 50-miler, I average about 30 miles per week, and during pre-race training, build up to a few weeks of mileage in the 40's and 50's before tapering.)

I know people who have run a 100-miler within a year or two of starting ultras, but you may want to build up slowly and let your knees adapt to the miles/extended time. :)

Good luck!
Joined: 30 Aug 2006
Posts: 42
Texas, United States
Posted: Fri 21 Mar 2008 04:07 pm GMT   topTop
If you look at most 100s there are a lot of 40 and 50 year olds completing them. 100 milers have a great deal to do with mental toughness just as much as physical toughness.

There are two 100 miles that I know of that have 50 milers and 100k races leading up to the 100 mile race. Western States has 3 races (Way too Cool 50k, AR50 miler and Miwok 100k) leading up to the start. Miwok is about a month prior to WS.

Rocky Raccoon does a similar build up using Sunmart 50 miler in December and Bandera 100k in January leading to the start of RR100 in February.

I think the 50 miler 6 weeks out will be a good thing leading into your first 100. I sometimes think the toughest part about running a 100 miler is actually paying the fee and showing up on the starting line.

P.S. I'll be 44 in July and don't have any knee issues and did my first 100 after only completing 3 marathons.