I have no idea what I’m doing, but it’s working.

Here’s a rundown of my 18 week 50K training plan and log:

Week 0: 40.73
Week 1: 34.69
Week 2: 38.30
Week 3: 17.75*
Week 4: 36.71
Week 5: 40.72
Week 6: 42.40
Week 7: 47.55
Week 8: 47.76
Week 9: 43.78
Week 10: 38.15
Week 11: 53.65
Week 12: 50.86
Week 13: 19.56*
Week 14: 46.79
Week 15: 46.79
Week 16: 33.47
Week 17: 32.33
Week 18: RACE!

YTD Distance: 664.21
YTD Time: 148:40:02 – approx. 6 days!!
WHAT?! I don’t typically hit that kind of mileage until August or even October!!

*Week 3 was the start of runner’s knee issues in my left knee. Week 13 was when allergies morphed into a nasty case of laryngitis.

In week 0, I started with a 9:1 walk run and then quickly moved to an 8:1 and ended the week with a 5:1. In week 1, I kept the 5:1, but also tried a 4:1.5 which felt really wrong. On Sunday I gave 4:1 a try, and it felt sweet spot-ish. At this point, the runs were about a 10min pace and the walks were about 15:00/15:30. By week 2, the runs had dropped down to right around 9 minute pace, while the walks stayed at 15:00/15:30. In week 3, I made an error. I tried to drop down to a 3:1 walk run without switching back to my trusty Saucony Guides. I had been wearing Altra Paradigms for distance walking in the second half of 2022 and just kept wearing them for this training cycle. Big mistake not moving back to a support shoe. I developed a weird stabbing left knee pain. In ten years of distance running, I developed my first case of runner’s knee. I immediately stopped running, added in PT exercises, and wore a patella strap for several hours of the day. I also started using a wobble board at my standing desk at work for balance and core strength.

Between PT exercises, being back in my Saucony Guides, and sticking faithfully to the 4:1 walk run ratio, I cruised through weeks 3-9. I added a 3:1 attempt at the end of week 9 and had no knee pain. From this point on, I used a 4:1 ratio for anything longer than 15 miles and a 3:1 ratio for anything 15 and under. The runs started moving closer to 8:00/8:30. I never felt like I was pushing the pace. I was just running smoothly and naturally, focusing on short strides for the walk and the run and being conscious of my transitions between the two. No quad braking when the Garmin beeped. Just smooth transitions, like I was running strides at the end of a run workout. Essentially I was doing insanely long fartlek workouts, which appeared to be good for my legs and my cardio fitness. In week 15, I started throwing in some 2:1 walk run ratios on my shorter mileage days as well as playing around with skipping a walk here and there and running for a full 4-5 minutes.

For most of this training plan, I averaged 13:30-12:30 on all my workouts. Considering I started my running journey by shuffling at those paces, I am thrilled with this progress. I am most impressed with my legs ability to recover. I can honestly say I never experienced any quad soreness or DOMS. This was night and day compared to my half marathon training cycles when I was in a constant state of soreness. The biggest issues I had this cycle was being bone tired until I adjusted to the weekend doubles and some feet soreness after the long Saturdays. The Sunday runs were easily my favorite. My legs felt equally trashed and jazzed, and my Sunday pace was almost always a bit quicker than Saturday. When I was half marathon training, 15 miles was generally my peak long run distance. 15 miles became my favorite distance to run for this cycle. Needless to say, training for a new distance in a new way has been fun for this runner coach.

Am I training correctly for an ultra?? I have no idea. It’s what worked for my legs and my body. I’m excited to see what I can attempt next Saturday. 50K or bust!