Is this a Couch to 50k Plan? How Fit do I need to be?
I suppose it could be since it's a 16 week program, but I strongly encourage you to first build an aerobic base before starting Week 1. You can do this by choosing either the 4 or 6 week Run and Strength programs here in my app. These programs are great because they focus on aerobic base building while building overall body strength, which is the perfect prep going into a race plan. The goal is to be injury free coming into the program so having a good aerobic base allows your body to endure the more intense workouts.
I've never run a marathon/half marathon, can I do this program?
The short answer is YES, you can do this program. Without knowing you personally, I will say that you can do anything you commit to; that is, if you sign up to put the work in, then that work will pay off, no matter your starting point. If you have only ever run a 10k or a half marathon, you can do this plan, but I would ask you first about your current fitness level. Read my answer for question #1 and go from there; and know that I already believe in you!
I am afraid of getting injured/I get injured easily, will this plan stress out my body?
I hear this often and I want to bring you some peace by telling you that this plan can be customized and modified to fit your journey. I will also say that I am a huge advocate for strength and mobility and this plan has a good balance of those kinds of workouts. One thing I will suggest is to check in with your Sports PT and see about getting a full body assessment because sometimes our injuries/aches are caused by alignment or mobility issues. You might want to get a running gait analysis too. While you don't NEED to see a PT, I would like you to consider the START HERE category in my app where I have you take a self-assessment which will help reveal your range of strength and mobility. I created this plan with a healthy balance of running, x-training, strength, mobility, and self care days.
I live in the city, far away from trails, can I train for a 50k?
Absolutely. I would say that most trail runners do not live at the base of a mountain or a massive trail system. For many of us, we are able to get on the trails 1-2 days a week at most. Training for a trail race is a fun adventure and the most vital part of your training is improving your fitness; and this can be done on the road, treadmill or trails. You will notice some hill workouts in the plan but you can do those on a treadmill or whatever incline you can find. If you are surrounded by concrete, check your calendar and see if you can schedule to get to a trail 3-5x during the 16 week plan; in order to give you confidence and experience on the terrain you're training for. You don't need to be on the trails every day, but a few times before race day will be incredibly valuable to you.
What kind of equipment do I need?
For the strength workouts, you will need dumbbells and a resistance band.
For the recovery days, a foam roller or massage stick work great.
If you can't get to a trail or it's winter season(snow/ice), I strongly suggest access to a treadmill whether in your home or at the gym so you can still get quality workouts in and you'll have the option to do the hill workouts using the incline function.
Running gear- If you're new to ultras, invest in some handheld water bottles and a running vest/hydration vest. Please join my Facebook Community Page for AWESOME insights on this type of gear.
Will I have full access to Sally when I start the 50k program?
While I am unable to answer every person's daily questions about the 50k program, I am active in the Facebook Community page (found in the INSIGHTS) where I routinely answer questions. You will also find tremendous support, kindness, and friendship from the already thousands of people in there.
I have done my best to educate and explain each workout, right down to type of intensity and mindset in order to prepare you each day, so be sure to read the description/notes each day of your training. I also suggest, glancing at the LONG RUN descriptions at the START of the week, so you can prepare for any suggestions/long workouts in advance.
Is the entire program time based?
Yes! Ultrarunning is about enduring and so I have found great success in coaching athletes with time-based programs. I also write mileage/km based programs, but for this first 50k race plan, I chose to do time based because it's more straightforward for the athlete regardless of level.
I don't know which level I should choose? I see there are 3 levels.
Yes, each day you open the program there is an option for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. This is where you will learn how to listen to your body each day. Let's say you're brand new to this distance but you have been marathoning for the past 5 years, well you might want to do the beginner program for the first few weeks just to see how it feels on your body. If it feels too easy and you think you can handle a little more time running each week, then start doing the intermediate options.
Also, it's important to note that even if you are an advanced athlete who has been ultra running for several years, there might be times when you choose to do the beginner option as a way to give your body a little more recovery from a previous workout or race.
That being said, one of the greatest lessons runners learn is how to listen to their own body and not let pride take over. Some days you feel great and recover strong while other days you might need more recovery than you thought. Listen to your body and how it's responding to training and choose each day wisely.
The goal is to get to the Start line feeling strong and fit, not exhausted and depleted.
So are the levels based on fitness and speed?
No. The levels are based on experience and your individual background in running. If you have been running for more than 5 years and have experience in ultra racing, I suggest starting with the intermediate level; however if you are coming back from injury in the past year, then start with the beginner option even if you're a sub-3:00 marathoner.
The advanced level at its core is simply more time running; and some athletes progress really well with more time running; however, two athletes of the same caliber can respond to high mileage differently, so my goal is to help you figure that out along the way.
The 3 options give you the freedom to do what feels best for your progression on any given day; and all 3 options are created to get you to the Start line feeling strong.
If you already have a solid aerobic base and you are used to running 3 hour long runs on the weekends (regardless of pace) then try the advanced plan and see how that works for you. If after the first few weeks it feels like too much, simply choose a different level and keep going.
The key is to commit to the training each day, so choose the option that will allow you to complete the workout each day.
Can I change the day of the Long Run or any other workouts?
Yes and Yes!
You'll notice, 2-3 of the workouts each week will have some type of intensity, so make those workouts your priority and if you need to move them around that's fine. Just make sure to give yourself a recovery day in between the intense workouts.
Long Run Days can absolutely be switched around; in my almost 20 years as a coach, I understand the time demands can put stress on family, social life, and other things you might have going on; so don't hesitate to change that long run day to fit your schedule.