Trail Running Training Plan 50k Guide – All You Need To Know
If you are planning on running a 50k trail running event, there are some basics you need to know. First, what trail running training plan you should follow, and how much training you will need to do.
Both are important when it comes to getting you to the start line safely, injury-free and motivated.
Depending on your fitness, the training plan should include some basic training principles based on your experience and current fitness level.
Just remember there is no one-fits-all training plan when it comes to training for a 50k trail running event. So, it is important to choose your training plan wisely.
In this article, we discuss some of the basics of training for a 50k trail run. We also discuss what is a good time and how you should specifically train for one if you are a beginner or a more experienced runner.
What Is A Good Time For A 50k Trail Run?
When it comes to knowing what a good time for a 50k trail run is, there is no clear-cut answer. Every runner is different, and every course varies. However, a safe bet is that you will be running at least 30 seconds per mile slower than your marathon pace. In some instances where the trails are very undulating and rough, the speed may be considerably slower than that.
As a general example, if your previous marathon time is 4 hours (9.09 per mile), your predicted 50k time would be around 5 hours at the fastest (9:39 per mile). However, for most trail running courses, you are most likely to be slower than that. For example, the same 4-hour marathon runner would expect to be closer to 6 hours for a 50k trail event that takes you over some rugged or mountainous terrain.
Faster runners should complete most 50k events in around 6 hours. Beginner runners, on the other hand, may take up to 10 hours if they walk a lot of the course.
Since all trail running courses vary a lot, it is wise to have a quick look over the course profile. Then compare this to your previous marathon event. It will help give you a rough estimate of how slower you will be.
How Do You Train For A 50km Trail?
If you are planning on running your first 50k trail race, there are some basic tips you should follow. These include:
Train specifically for the event
That means simulating the trail terrain you will be racing over by doing some of your longer runs over similar terrain that you will experience in the event.
Identify Technical Areas
Make sure you research all technical sections you will experience in the race. This means looking over the gradient of the hills, the altitude, and the weather conditions. Before you start the race, you should already know if the climate is humid or cold, how long the climbs are and if there are any steep descents.
The more you know about the course, the more you can tailor your training towards it. It will also help you prepare the body and mind for these sections.
Introduce off-road running gradually
If you are doing your first 50 km trail run, it is important to slowly introduce off-road running into your training plan. While off-road running places less stress on your tendons, bones, and joints, every step is unique. That means it can increase the chances of developing an injury, as the body will need time to adapt.
Instead of jumping into off-road running directly, start with a few shorter trail runs during the week and follow this pattern for the first 4-6 weeks. Then as you get more comfortable, you can start adding longer trail sections into your long run. Ultimately, increasing to a point where your long runs can be run primarily off-road and on trails.
Have a long-run strategy
Even though to run longer, you will need to cover more distance, but don’t go overboard. Even though your long run is an important part of your training plan for 50k, you will still need to invest time into your recovery. That’s why it is important to have a long-run strategy.
Your long-run strategy should focus on slowly building up your long run to 38-40 kilometers. However, to get there safely you will need to increase the distance over time. Then every 3-4 weeks reduce the long run by 30-40% to aid recovery.
Remember, training for a 50k trail run is not much different from a marathon. You will just need to allow the body to adapt to off-road running during your build-up.
Plan in hill workouts
Since most trail running events take you over some mountainous terrain, it is important to do regular hill running. However, that doesn’t mean running hills every day. Your training plan should include a few specific days where you work on your hill running technique through either a hilly distance run or hill intervals.
Keep the speed low
Outside of your hill repeats, tempo runs, or hilly distance runs, your long run should be focused on keeping a slow and steady pace. It will also help to teach yourself the correct pacing strategy while building your endurance.
Trail Running Training Plan 50k
A good trail running training plan for 50k should include a slow build-up of volume. It should also include regular recovery weeks. These should be planned into the training plan every third or fourth week.
Your long run should reach around 35-40km during the training plan and should include weekly hill workouts catered to that event.
Depending on your running background, some plans may include specific tempo runs or intervals to help improve your lactate threshold. However, for most beginners, this is not needed, as building endurance is the most vital part of training for a 50k trail race.
If you are looking for a trail running training plan for 50k, SportCoaching has a range of different plans catered for different levels. Each training plan is customized to each person and each event. This plan takes into account your background, fitness, time available, and any injuries you may have had.
How Many Miles A Week Should I Train For A 50k?
How many miles a week you will need to train for a 50k trail event will depend on your current running background. If you are a beginner (but still run), expect to start around 20 miles per week, then build up your mileage. However, for most people, it is wiser to focus on hours rather than mileage. So, expect to run around six to nine hours per week to get you to the start line in good shape.
This should typically take around four months of training if you have some decent running fitness to start with. However, if you are a complete newbie to running, you will need a longer build-up time.
For most beginners to safely build up to a 50k trail event, you would need around 18-24 weeks of training behind you.
Is It Possible To Run A 50k Trail Race Without Training?
If you have a base level of training (30 miles or more a week), it is 100% possible. However, this won’t be without pain or risk. Without adequate long runs in your training plan, the distance may almost certainly lead to injury, especially if you are not used to running off-road.
Instead, give yourself more time to build up your long run and prepare properly for the event. It will also help you enjoy it a lot more and help you to get a better result.