Going Longer: How To Train For Your First 50K

Max King has won numerous U.S. trail championships in both shorter and ultra-distance races. Photo: Scott Clifford

Advice For Newbies

As you’ll find scanning ultra race calendars, most 50K events are trail races. We asked Tucson’s legendary Pam Reed—the first woman to win the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon outright in 2002 (and again in 2003) and author of the book, “The Extra Mile: One Woman’s Personal Journey to Ultrarunning Greatness”—for some quick tips to get on the right path.

What advice to your offer aspiring trail runners?

It’s funny because as I get older I am more cautious when trail running—probably because I badly tore my hamstring a couple of years ago. I would just say go out there and do it.  It is so beautiful and you get to go to so many great places and see things most people never see. I think that is what I love most about it.

What about gear?

Run in whatever shoes feels comfortable. You want to be comfortable especially when you’re going long. Your feet will swell at least a half size during ultra-distance runs, and maybe even a full size if it’s hot. I also recommend a sock thicker than the typical running sock. I wear PowerSox and love them. They give my foot a little bit more support and that has helped me not get as many blisters. I also use a Nathan pack and the Fuel Belt with the eight ounce bottles and a little pack for some Clif Bloks.

Is there a key tip you offer in regard to running technique for the trail?

Lift your feet, keep your eye on the trail and hold your arms out wide to your balance. I have seen so many people fall, and that is not fun.

VIDEO: Dealing With Obstacles When Trail Running

What about cross-training?

When I first started I just ran. I now do TRX, which is nice for quad strength and also core.  I also do a lot of swimming, which seems to keep me limber and, when I have time, I do hot yoga.

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