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  • Writer's pictureAnkur Shah

Running my first ultra marathon

Updated: May 15, 2020

Struggling with 5K, here's how I prepared for my first 50K in 18 months.

I wasn't into running always. Not just running; but any kind of sports. How and why I joined running is another story which I will write later. For now, let's take you to my journey from 5 KM to 50 KM.

Always have a goal

Find a purpose or goal in whatever activity you do. I started with initial goal of running 5K under 30 mins and later hit 21K in sub 2. Goal was to run a 50K in 5 hrs.

Check my Instagram post here

Setting the goal

Without prior running background, one may be tempted to set an unrealistic goal by seeing fellow colleagues running. Some may be natural athlete and hence with few months of preparation they can easily break into sub 2 (under 2 hours) half marathon and sub 4 (under 4 hours) marathon.

Being realistic of self goal will not only make the journey fruitful but it will also keep your body under less stress if the goal isn't too ambitious. Easiest way to determine your running goals should be based on timing to complete 5K followed by 10K, 21K and 42K.

If you're able to run 5K in 30 mins without feeling exhausted with a negative split, you are more likely to finish 10K under 60 mins.

When I first hit 5K under 30 mins, I was super excited. But I couldn't keep the same pace for next 5K. It was only when I was constantly pacing 10K between 55 mins to 57 mins that I felt confident to stretch the goal to 15K and then to 21K.

The preparation

There is no substitute to hard work and mileages.

Running is combination of muscle strengthening, diet, rest and running. When I started formal training with RunIndiaRun, I was being trained to get my core muscles developed. Circuit training, cardio exercise and hill training formed very crucial part for initial 4-6 weeks. I gradually realised that I don't struggle to run 5K non stop now. In fact, could run 10K with much more ease. After preparing for 8 months for a 21K in Mumbai Marathon, I felt confident to aim for a full marathon (42K). One needs to realise that 42K is twice of 21K mathematically. Mentally, it is much more than that. My training was upgraded for a serious runner to be able to run a marathon with decent timing. Weekly running mileages which were 45-50K in June-July peaked to 100K in Oct-Nov. I was running 21K thrice a week with a hill run once a week. Running form and mileage which was built for Mumbai Marathon in Jan 2020 continued further till Feb 1st week for 50K ultra marathon at Lonavala. Every Sunday was a hill run of 25-30K on Pali Hill, Bandra. Running on slope for 5 hours is much easier than running on hill for 3 hours.

The race day

Goal was to run a 5:30hrs 50K. However, the route took me by surprise after 30K. Being my first time, I under estimated the deadly slopes. These slopes were nothing compared to Pali Hill or Peddar Road or Hanging Garden. Having started the race at 2:30AM, initial 30K was a tar road with uphill and downhill which wasn't that difficult. Real challenge was to navigate uneven roads with slopes and gravel in the dark supported by headlamp. And the steep slopes make uphill not just tiring but they also keep tempting you to quit at every step. Slopes so steep that you can't even brisk walk or just walk. There were times I had to lean my body forward and just manage to step ahead.

Overall, this ultra marathon needs much more practice and is suitable for a serious runner with sub 4 marathon timing.

Read my complete running experience of Tata Ultra Marathon

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