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Author: Patrick Durante

How I’m training for a 50 Mile Ultra Marathon!

This year I decided to take a break from triathlons.  I wanted to focus my effort on one big race.  Yes, I did do some smaller races I’ll never skip, like the Broad street run or Oddyseey Half Marathon.  Once those were complete my focus changed to just training for the 50 Mile race.  Time wise and for scheduling reasons I decided on the Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50.  

The terrain is mostly forest roads, so I won’t have to deal with an extremely rocky course.  Obviously, the biggest hurdles are the distance and the climbs, totaling about 5,500ft.

I had registered for the race last year, but because of an injury, I had to back out.  I have had the best success avoiding injuries when I am following a training plan, so I’m using this Runners world 50 Mile Plan.  I’ve done training plans before that use back to back long runs, but I tend to get burned out.  So far this training plan has been VERY enjoyable.  I actually look forward to the long run on Saturday, and I have been just doing a leisurely bike ride on Sundays instead of another long run.

This is my first attempt at this distance, and the training has been going well.  At this point I’m at the 3:45 hour mark and can complete about 2,500ft of climbing on the kind of rocky terrain of the Wissahickon.  I’ve completed two 50Ks in the past, but I still think it’s odd that the farthest you run in training is only slightly over 30 miles.  Having a 20 mile gap in the plan doesn’t lead to much confidence, but I’m going to trust it and see how it works out.  Regardless, there will be suffering that day, but I’m trying to keep it to a minimum.

I’ve made some modifications to fit my needs.  For weight training, I’m using kettlebells.  It’s the perfect compliment to running.  I have never, in my past, made such an effort to keep lifting, while I’m still in the middle of a high mileage running program.  With the addition of weight training, I’ve been feeling better at the end of longer runs, and I don’t seem to have as much pain in my legs after then run.  It’s like I can take more abuse, yet not fatigue as much.  Kettlebells don’t just work your legs, they work EVERYTHING, with a big emphasis on core strength.  From this point forward, I plan to keep it in my schedule, 2 days a week, regardless of what distance I’m training for.

Another part of ultra running, that can be difficult to figure out, is what type of food to use.  Currently, I’m using honey stinger waffles, PB and J sandwiches, and GU packets.  Eating while running is necessary, with how many calories you are burning per hour.  I also make sure to down a few Hammer salt tablets, while drinking a mix of both Cytomax and water, from a Camelbak.

My strategy for the race is mostly just completion.  Yes, it would be nice to place in my age group, but with this being my first attempt at this distance I really don’t see that happening.  The best tip I received about ultra racing is that you do a lot of walking, well at least you should if you want to see the finish line.  It can help if you actually practice walking fast on a treadmill before the race, since it uses a different muscle set than running.  Yes, I’m sure some of the uber-elite runners don’t walk as much as I plan to, but I don’t want to be in so much pain that I don’t even enjoy the race.  The other biggest tip was to have fun, and sometimes I forget about that, and just focus too much on the competitive side.

At&t Back On My Feet (BoMF) 5-Miler Philadelphia Race

The Back on My Feet organization had their 2nd annual 5 mile race, on West River drive, this Saturday.  If you are unfamiliar with BoMF, the idea behind the organization is using running, to turn your life around.  They have partnerships, with homeless shelters, in multiple cities across the US.  They provide housing resources, jobs, and support to homeless men and women, and use running as the tool to keep them motivated and sticking with the program.

As much as you think running can be a solo activity, the BoMF organization shows just how much the support of others is needed to be successful.  That’s the whole idea behind the program, people who have found running using it as the tool that helps change the lives of those less fortunate.

Conditions for the race this year were a little on the cold side for March.  That still didn’t stop over 700 people from coming out for the event.  The course was perfect, it wasn’t the typical boring out and back along West River drive.  They used the large hill located on Lansdowne Drive, which you get to from Sweet Briar.  You ran past the Please Touch museum, then headed back down to West River drive via Black Road.  This adds an extra element of speed and strategy as you had to factor in the climb, which can be brutal if you haven’t been doing any hill work.

They have definitely attracted some faster runners this year, which is typical for a race in its second year.  The top time last year was only 31:13, this year it dropped down to 26:59.  I wish I had a chance to get in some more speed work cause I might have had a shot at one of the top 3 spots.  I’ve finally gotten over a recent injury so my training volume has been low.  I was still very happy with a PR in my 5 mile time of 31:05 and taking 2nd place male 30-39.  They gave out some nice medals to all of the age group winners.

bomf medal

I have to give credit for At&t of doing a great job of supporting the race.  They had iPads at the end which allowed you to quickly look up your results to see how you did in the race.  They also offered hats, t-shirts, head bands, and even had a photo booth to get a pic with your friends.  I took my second best buddy in with me for a photo, and my wife was also there to support me at the race.


backonmyfeet5milerphotobooth

Back on My Feet is about support.  Everyone needs it even in a solo sport like running.  Everyone knows the benefits of joining a running club,  you can meet new friends and pick up running tips.  Except the Back on My Feet running club you get more than just faster times in your 5K.  They give people hope, opportunities, housing, employment and so much more.

If interested in volunteering and running with BoMF you can sign up on their site located at http://www.backonmyfeet.org/

Back on my Feet Philadelphia 5 Miler

I love listening to TED talks.  Hearing the thought process from either very successful, innovative, or intelligent people can have such an impact.  I came across the talk from Anne Mahlum, the person who started the non-profit Back on my Feet (BoMF).

It’s an inspiring story and such a simple idea.  I agree with her the impact that running can have.  Running doesn’t just change your body, it changes how you approach everything in life.  On Saturday, March 30th they will be holding their 2nd annual event.  If you’re looking for a warm-up race for Broad street this is a perfect race.

Here’s the link for the Back on my Feet 5 Miler  that will be hosted in Philadelphia.

BoMF website