Conquering 50km: My Journey to the Ultra

Patrick Poh
4 min readMay 1, 2024

First 50km ultramarathon: a daunting distance for some, a personal Everest for others. For me, it’s a challenge I’ve set my sights on, and I’m here to chronicle my journey towards conquering it. This is where I put the details of my training plan, the lessons I’m gleaning from others, and how I’m preparing myself mentally and physically for this epic adventure.

Photo by Zan Lazarevic on Unsplash

Learning From the Pack

Training for an ultramarathon can be a solitary pursuit, but connecting with other runners, especially those who have experience with similar distances, can be a huge source of support and motivation. Online forums, local running groups, and even finding a training partner can provide invaluable advice, shared experiences, and a sense of camaraderie.

While devouring training plans online and watching countless YouTube videos is a great way to absorb knowledge, ultimately, the race is mine to run (literally!). There’s a crucial difference between learning and doing. Just knowing is not enough, understanding the purpose of each training and how it will help in tackling this 50km challenge is really a big factor in progressing confidently towards the end goal.

Respecting the Distance

This isn’t your average Sunday jog. 50km is a serious undertaking, both physically and mentally. It demands a deep understanding of what my body can handle and the unwavering determination to push through the inevitable discomfort. Knowing where the mind and body will likely break is a good way to train ourselves to overcome the situation when it comes up.

Familiarizing myself with the race route is a top priority. Studying elevation profiles, understanding terrain variations, and even practicing on specific sections of the exact route will be invaluable when race day arrives.

One doesn’t simply jump into a 50km run. It’s a gradual process. My training plan will involve progressively longer runs, building my endurance brick by brick. We can think of it as running 5 sets of 10km, with each set adding to my overall strength.

Weekends are prime time for extending my long runs. Tackling a long run on Saturday evenings followed by another on Sunday mornings will progressively train my body for extended periods. Making sure the level of fatigue over the weekend will slowly increase to match what’s coming on race day.

Weekend training runs will be done with the same gear I’ll use on race day. This includes a hydration vest, hat, gels, water bottles, and anything else I plan to carry. Getting accustomed to the weight and feel of this equipment is crucial for avoiding race-day surprises.

The middle of the week is dedicated to strength training and speed intervals. Building strength helps prevent injuries, while speed work improves overall efficiency.

Fueling and Equipment

Nutrition and hydration are paramount. I’ve estimated my calorie needs for the entire race to be around 2500–3000. While my body can standby 2000 calories naturally, I’ll need to strategically consume an additional 1000–1500 calories during the race. This means strategically using energy drinks, gels, and even real food to keep my engine running.

Preventing stomach aches during a long run requires a two-pronged approach. First, I’ll experiment with different types of running food to find what my stomach tolerates best. Second, proper hydration is key — dehydration can wreak havoc on digestion.

I’m diving into resources like the book “Fixing Your Feet” to learn how to manage wear and tear on my most important tools — my feet. Proper care will be essential for preventing blisters, calluses, and other foot-related issues that could derail my race.

Blisters, chafing, and sore muscles are unwelcome companions on any long run, but on a 50km journey, they’re almost guaranteed. To mitigate these issues, the focus needs to be on proper shoe selection (fit), clothes, heat sprays, and stretching techniques.

Let’s be real — new running gear can be exciting. It’s tempting to get caught up in the latest gadgets and gizmos. But the truth is, a fancy watch or shoes won’t magically make you a better runner. While I recently purchased a GPS-enabled watch for better tracking and navigation, it’s ultimately a tool to enhance the experience, not a replacement for hard work.

Preparation is Key: Embracing the Pain

Let’s be honest — it’s going to hurt. But thorough preparation will help me manage the pain. By gradually increasing mileage, focusing on proper form, and fueling my body correctly, I can minimize discomfort and maximize performance.

Every runner hits a “wall” at some point — a dip in energy levels. My strategy is to have a plan for countering this. This may involve pre-planned fueling stops, carrying a variety of energy sources, and practicing mental techniques to stay focused.

This is just the beginning of my 50km journey. There will be setbacks, unexpected challenges, and moments of pure joy. But through meticulous planning, relentless training, and a healthy dose of self-awareness, I’m confident I can conquer this distance.

This article serves as a starting point for my journey. I’ll be documenting my progress, sharing my learnings, and hopefully inspiring others to chase their own “running dreams”, whatever the distance (or destination) may be. So, stay tuned for future updates as I embark on this exciting adventure, one step (or rather, 50,000 steps) at a time!