Between Training Blocks

Taking a break and planning for 50 miles

So, I have successfully refrained from posting about running (mostly) for almost a month. After my 50K, I wanted to take a little break from the focus I’d had on training, diet, and over-sharing with my friends and family. I was very happy with my 50K results and will plan on running more races of that distance with more elevation gain (potentially as part of the 50 mile training)

I have maintained about 30-35 miles per week to keep the engine warm. I thought I might have a longer period between training blocks, but after researching 50 mile training plans, I plan to start following a new plan on 6/11/2019 for my race on 11/23/2019. A five month training block may seem a little overkill, but I’ll go into my decision process below.

Keto Crash and Burn

As part of my “break” I went off the strict Ketogenic diet I was following. I was already planning on transitioning to something else healthy and sustainable, but what I have been doing is neither health nor sustainable. Pizza, pasta, beer, ice cream, cookies, bread, …everything that I had denied myself on Keto (and even stuff I never really ate before). I did put back on a few of the pounds I had lost, but am keeping an eye not to backslide completely. My rationalization is that I will be doing up to 70 miles per week in my next training block, so…

Not Keto

Obviously, this cannot be my approach going forward. I will be trying to transition to a mostly vegetarian low-carb diet to train for the 50-miler. But, until my training block officially starts on 6/11, I’m going to get a few more gluttonous treats and meals in.

50 Mile Training Plans

When choosing a 50K training plan, I stayed with Hal Higdon which I had used for my marathon training. I really liked the spacing of the mileage and rest days. But stepping up to 50 mile training, I looked more to the ultra-running community. I found a few really good sources.

These three represent a good mix of plan duration, weekly mileage, intensity, workouts, and speed work (whether it’s necessary). So, plotted them on a spreadsheet to see the main arc of each plan side-by-side.

  • Field Guide to Ultrarunning
  • Hal Koerner
    • Hal’s plan is the most aggressive and over the shortest duration with more of a focus on speed work. I think it might be more suited to a younger runner already running at a base of 50ish miles/wk.

Ultrarunning Mom Blog – Nicole Lowe

  • Nicole’s plan is gradual and balanced, but since I realized that JFK has a cutoff of 13 hours, I didn’t feel like I was hitting enough mileage before the taper.

Relentless Forward Progress

Bryon Powell

  • Bryon provides 2 plans, one maxing out at 50 miles/wk and one at 70 miles/wk. The 50 mile/wk plan is lower total mileage than Nicole’s, and the 70 mile is slightly less aggressive than Hal’s.
  • Both plans follow a pattern of 3 build weeks followed by one recovery week, so it seems that I can shoot for the more aggressive plan, but split the difference or do the lower mileage one week if necessary.
  • Both plans ramp from where I’m currently at (35 miles/wk) and build over a longer period.

So, I’ll be following Bryon’s 70 mile a week plan to start and see if I need to adjust up or down based on how my training goes.

Intermediate Projects

A couple of projects I’m looking to weave into my upcoming training block:

Trail Dog

I have been working on building my main trail dog’s mileage so I have a running buddy during my upcoming trail work. Beauty Belle (aka BB, aka Boots) is our one dog (out of 4) with the fitness and trail manners to run with me off-leash.

Fast Packing

One of the features of the 50 mile training plans are back-to-back long runs on the weekends. I’d like to do some of these as fast packing trips where I’ll run in on the AT or other trail in the afternoon/evening, camp overnight in my hammock, and run out the next day.

Canoe Shuttle

Since the majority of miles in the JFK 50 are on the C&O Canal trail along the Potomac River, I’d like to do some of the segments with a canoe shuttle, where I place the canoe upriver, drive back downriver, run back to the canoe, and then canoe back to the car.


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