Injuries this summer derailed our training plans. When it became clear that it wouldn’t be smart to attempt the 50K start (i.e. we might finish but maybe not within time limit or without serious setbacks) in October, I started reforming the training schedule in my head.

At first, I figured we’d let November be a bit of downtime (with a trail half in the middle). I wouldn’t worry about distance too much. Then December we’d fire up 50K training from “scratch” and aim for a May or June 50K.

Gene suggested considering a little earlier for the 50K. After all, we wouldn’t be starting from zero, especially if we could manage a trail half in November. It made me a little nervous, but I said I’d think about it. Maybe see how we felt in the week after the Cougar Mountain 19.5 mi race before making a decision.

And here we are, a week after 19.5 mi and almost 4000′ of vert. I had a pretty good day last weekend—tired and a little achy but overall strong (but not fast). Gene’s was a little tougher.

We both feel ready to take on an ultra in 2019 though. The question is when & which one. We have a trail half in 2 weeks with 2400′ gain, which I think will be another waypoint to make some decisions. But there are some clear considerations for choosing.

Part of the calculation is finding something we both feel is achievable. Until last weekend, every race over 10K that we’d started together, we ran and finished together. And I think we’d like our first 50K to be one we finish side by side.

Another part is just scheduling. We have a two-week vacation in the spring, which will hopefully include lots of hiking (and maybe some trail running). I don’t want a race within 2 weeks before or after vacation. Trail race season really ramps up just as we depart, though the real bounty hits in the summer.

I’m really tempted to go with one of the few 50Ks before our trip. It means not worrying about losing trail running fitness over vacation, even though the trip is likely to be active. There are 3 options in my mind:

  • 16 weeks to train for 30.7 miles, 7000′ vert, 10 hour cutoff
  • 19 weeks to train for 31 miles, 5000′ vert, 8 hour cutoff
  • 21 weeks to train for “closer to 34 mile” (per the race website), 4100′ vert, 8.5 hour cutoff (you can request an hour earlier start though most places that means you’re given a minimum official finish time, e.g. even if you finished in 8 the time would be listed as 8.5 hours)

As I write it out here, the third falls off my list. It’s not worth the additional 5 weeks of training for a race that’s about 5K longer with a similar cutoff time. The second is a widely touted here as a great first 50K, but it also sells out pretty quickly. The first has similar cumulative stats as the Cougar Mountain 50K we’d originally planned to do, but with another 2 hours to finish.

I found the Cougar Mountain vert daunting  a few months back. But we’ve done a few trail runs and hikes in the 4000-5000′ vert range (over ~11-20 miles) this year, including 2 since returning from injury. After the race last weekend, I feel confident 5000-7000′ for 31 miles is doable.

Training for a 50K in 4 months seems silly. But then I realize we have been training already. We just took a little detour. Our current long run mileage is at or even a bit ahead of the targets for training plan with a 50K in 16 weeks. We don’t need to go back to the start. We just need to recalculate the path there.

Have you ever had to readjust your plan and target for a big goal race? How did you do it?