To achieve a a 50 mile ultra in less than 20 hours you’ll want to perform at an average pace of 14:55 minutes per kilometer or 24:00 minutes per mile to come in at just under your desired time but that’s easier said than done.
A fifty mile race is almost double a marathon and the longer the distance, the more variables there are:
- Fatigue (mental and physical)
- Challenging terrain
Hopefully this specific 50 mile pace chart for finishing in hours will help give you some idea of working out a realistic time, but it’s important to remember that your primary aim is to complete the race and that in itself is an amazing achievement.
10 mile marker pace times
|Mile||Split in hours|
Whilst it’s good to have these marker times as a rough guide, the fact is that ultra’s can be unpredictable, especially over a distance such as 50 miles. There’s no way you can consistently run at a precise pace such as the 14:55 min/mile required in this instance, but it will give you an idea of what’s achievable as long as you respect the distance.
The purpose of pacing isn’t just to ensure you’re not going too slow but also to ensure you’re not going too fast. You need to conserve energy for the entire 50 miles, so going too fast at the beginning will have an impact of how you end, either dropping pace or even not completing the event.
Mile by Mile 50 mile pacing chart
Here’s is the mile by mile pacing for running at 14:55 min/mile or 24:00 min/km with the intention of a 20 hours finish.
What can affect your pace?
There are many factors that can affect your pace, but as we’re talking about ultra’s and 50 milers to be precise we’ll focus on some very specific topics
Aid stations will affect your pace
During ultra events there will be aid stations along the route where runners can refuel, top up their water, pick-up some food, go to the toilet, or even sit down rest your legs for a few minutes.
That all sounds great and also gives you targets to aim for to break up the run, but be aware of the time you spend at each of these as these stops can drastically affect your average pace and your finish time.
Aid stations can be anything from 5-10 miles apart on an ultra course, and the Lakeland 50 for example has 6 aid stations. Spending 10 minutes at each will add an hour onto your intended 50 mile finish time of 20 hours taking it to 21:00, so think about what you really need to do at each station.
If it’s your first ultra, these pit-stops can be very inviting, but don’t dally around too much, and only use them for things you can’t do while you’re running.
Heavy kit bag
For most ultra’s you will have have a required kit that you will need to carry the whole event. The fact is you may not need all of it, but if something happens or the weather turns you be glad for it.
It will add more weight, thus increasing fatigue, so ensure you’ve done plenty on long training runs with it, so you know how your pace is affected, and to ensure you know any contact points that rub or cause an issue.
Whilst most races will have markers, maps, and signage, there will still be a requirement on you to navigate 50 miles of terrain. Looking at maps, checking your GPS, or even accidentally going the wrong way will all add time onto your preferred 14:55 min/mile or 24:00 min/km pace.
It can help to go on a recce of the route, perhaps the last 10 or 20 miles, to know what to expect and add some confidence to your navigation.
Weather and terrain
If it’s a particularly hilly course then you should take that into account when planning your pace. It’s a given. But factors such as the weather on the day can make it slippery under foot, or if it’s hot, increase the amount of drink stops you need to make.
Finish first, worry about pace second
Completing a 50 mile ultra is a real achievement so focus on that in the first instance, especially if it’s your first 50 miler. Run your own pace informed by your training runs and don’t be afraid to walk up hills… nearly everyone does!
50 miles is a long way and there are bound to be a few hiccups along the way that affect your pace. That could range from bad weather, sorting out an issue with your clothing, or ‘undulating’ terrain. No race is going to be perfect and once you accept that you’ll be able to stress less and actually enjoy your run.
Yes, you want a sub 20 hour finish… but most people won’t be focusing on the time, but just the fact you completed this achievement. Be proud of yourself.