The running man: Tips for Running a 50+ Mile Race

Long distance runners know all too well the time commitment and the stamina it takes to train for and complete a distance race. But, if you’re just starting out with training for a full marathon or longer race, you may be wondering, “how will I ever get to the finish line?” Luckily, our Cairn Crew has the pleasure of working with one of our very own distance-running junkies! When he isn’t translating data for our team into plain English (no small feat), Ryan Manies is running. If you thought 26.2 miles was a lot, well try 50+ miles--that’s more Ryan’s style. This summer he’s gearing up for the Cuyamaca 100k held this October near San Diego, California.

Ryan let us dive into his world to find out just what it takes to accomplish these long distance runs, and how to get ready for a big race.

Diet Tips

Fueling up to run any distance is crucial, but when you're running distances as far as Ryan is, your diet is equally important as all of the training you did. Eating the right foods before, during and after a race supplies your body with enough energy to go the distance and also recover. Know what works best for your body, and stick with those foods before a big run 👊🏻.

“Gels, Bars and Salt!  Use your long training runs to figure out your own nutrition game plan.  Having this dialed will help you execute on race day.” -Ryan

Whatever your favorite carbs are, fill that plate up the night before your race and don’t be afraid to have seconds--your body will need it to take you to the finish line 😉  🙌🏽.

Training like a pro  

Training to run 50+ miles is almost like having a second job--a very sweaty, exhausting, and REWARDING second job. These long distance races are a HUGE commitment for anyone who decides to sign up, but will give you mad bragging rights once you cross that finish line! For Ryan, training is all about the quality vs quantity.

“ My preparation is usually centered on the quality of my miles versus quantity of miles.  When my schedule is tight during the week I try my best to simulate running on tired legs. This comes from a combination of things such as:

  • Trying to run twice in one day.  Even if the distance is short on both runs (3-4 miles) the second run is on tired legs which simulate how you feel towards the end of an Ultra run. 
  • Make the weekends count by doing two long runs (10+) back to back.   I can’t spend the entire weekend running on trails so this usually means starting at early hours, but the cooler morning temps and quiet trails make up for the lack of sleep.
  • There is more than one way to tire your legs!  I use a standing desk at work all day.  Build up by trying 20 min. increments if you use to sitting at your desk!” - Ryan

We can’t promise your friends won’t call you crazy, but at least you’ll be able to out run them in a foot race! 👊🏻 🎉

Pre-race regime

What you do the night before a race, or even two or three nights before a race can drastically impact your race day performance. As you know, getting adequate rest every night is important for overall health, and is even more so when preparing to push your body to it’s running limits. 👍🏻 😴

“Aim to get your best, uninterrupted, night of sleep 2 nights before a race.  There are too many variables the night before a race that can make it difficult to sleep well.” - Ryan

Take yourself back to middle school and set a strict curfew and bedtime and stick to it for the days leading up to your run--your race day mind and body will thank you 😊  🙌🏽.

Beating the burnout

With anything you do for hours upon hours, there is always going to be the challenge to beat the burnout. Running is no exception, but Ryan has figured out what needs to do to keep running fun!🏃🏼 🙌🏽 

“Mix it up! I always try to explore new trails to run at even if this means driving a little longer to the trailhead or by camping in new areas. I also try to mix up the race distances I do.  At the end of July 2017 I will be doing a 1 mile race that I think will go by very fast (no need for music on this one)” -Ryan

It also helps to have a favorite trail nearby to go to when you need a little extra motivation. 😄

“One of my favorite loops in Central Oregon is the Green Lakes to Soda Creek loop.  It has a nice climb on the way to Green Lakes that gets the heart rate up. However the views of the surrounding area and the combination of varied terrain you experience within the 12 mile loop (11.8 to be exact) make it worth the extra effort.” -Ryan

Whether Ryan has inspired you to go out and run 5 miles or 50 miles, we think you are ALL running rockstars! 🙌🏽

“You can do it! Sign up for races that will help you build up to that distance before you sign-up for the 50+ mile race.  Find local runners in your community to run with – having a running buddy depending on you to show up will motivate you to get out more often.  I also recommend volunteering at a longer race.  You get to see first hand what the racers have to endure and it will be easy to see the issues that are exposed by 50+ mile race – blisters, bonking and dehydration! -Ryan

Everyone is different, so before running any long distance race please consult your physician, trainer, health coach or whoever it may be to make sure your body is in good condition to start training. It’s also helpful to have a training buddy, so find a friend who likes to run and sign up for a race together! And for Ryan, well you just keep doing your thing and we will be cheering you on every step, or thousand of steps, of the way!

Are you training for a race this summer? Share with us on Facebook or Instagram!

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