3 things you should know for your first 50K

It’s done. You have made your decision to register for your first 50K. You feel pumped, ready to move, no, to run mountains. You badass! I know that feeling. I’ve been there, and actually I’m still at this point. To make that adventure as pleasant as you wish, may I tell you the 3 things I should have done before registering for my first 50K race. If you’ve read me before, you know from my last race report that my adventure ended up after 29 painful f****** kilometers.
So don’t put yourself up for a DNF before toeing the starting line of your first 50K by following these 3 tips.

Assess yourself

How is your training at the moment?
Are you strong enough to take more in terms of intensity?
Are you mentally prepared?
Why do you want to race your first 50K?
Why now?

The reason why you want to run your first 50K is in my opinion as important as your fitness condition. Because when push comes to shove during your preparation AND/OR race-day, make sure you know why you are putting yourself through this. It’s this “why” that will get you out of bed at 5 AM; that will make you train under pouring rain.
So make sure this “why” is strong enough to drive you and keep you moving forward.

One day I read somewhere – and unfortunately I can’t find the quote anymore – that if you want to write a book for glory, success and fame, than just don’t do it. It’s the same for your first 50K and for any other race you’re going to run in the future. If you run for the fame, you will pay the price on the trail.


Knowing is half of your finish

That was my biggest mistake. I didn’t know what kind of race I signed for.

Information is one big step toward a strong finish.
Is your race beginner-friendly?
Can you train on similar ground as the course?
Is it technical? Hilly?

A 50K is challenging. It’s not “just” 8K more than a marathon. Believe me, this was my mindset at the start of Trilhos Abutres. And I was comparing to marathons I’d run on asphalt! Yes, head-shaking is appropriate here.

So ask around you, read race reports on the internet, find runners who have already run the race you want to tackle as your first 50K.
Ask the organization of the race; ask your running friends for advices. Maybe they know what kind of ultra is beginner friendly. These sources of information are close to you, it’s a gift, so use it!

The most important for your preparation is just to know. KNOW what you are signing for.

Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven. – William Shakespeare


Be prepared. A strong mind in a strong body.

So now, you’ve already register for your first 50K.
You want it to be a success.
You want to finish; finish strong.

Plan your training. I know some people train by feeling; I personally need a training plan as an orientation. It happens from time to time, that I run longer or shorter distances than my plan suggests. I recommend the training plan. But TRAIN SMART. Don’t push too hard on yourself during your preparation, unless you want to be burned when you’ll toe the start line.

No need to swallow 100 miles a week.
Prefer quality over quantity.
And try to train on similar conditions as race-day.

I ran Trilhos Abutres mainly in mud and trained mostly on ice and snow. Even though it made me stronger to train in such conditions, it was totally useless for this race.

Do you need poles?
Will the race take place at night?
Hot summer or cold winter?
Flat or steep?

Also challenge your mind. For example, I hate spinning. I think it’s boring to sit on the bike facing a white wall – or a TV if you are “lucky”. So, after a hard core-training session, I sometimes include a 2Hours spinning session…without music, phone, book or any possible distraction. This is one of the methods that work for me to strengthen the mind. Or running 10K in loop on the track; there are plenty methods. Find yours!
Remember: try to find peace in difficult moment, because you may want to have a backup plan in case you hit a low point during that race. 50K might be the smallest distance of ultrarunning, the difficulty does exist. Be prepared!

Of course there are plenty of tips I could give you, but these are in my opinion the most important.

And your first 50K will be set up for success.

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