Patience, Persistence & Planning – 50K The Easy Way

Everyone who views results, has explanations.. those people are talented, those people are lucky, those people “got it”. Get a clue.. it requires hard work and mental toughness.

There once was this runner, we’ll call him Rob.

He had a goal. No, he had a vision. Not only that, it was a long term goal that actually created the opportunity to actually fulfill it! Wow, 11/10/07 and it was only October of 2006.

In one year’s time, he wanted to run a 50 miler. This is a lofty goal. It is one which requires some very essential things. It requires persistence in being consistent in training. It requires planning for every workout – with flexiblity built in all along the way. It required ongoing communication with coaching – we can’t read minds you know! And it required the patience to start small, grow, and step-by-step (quite literally) realize progress was being made. This was NOT a 12 or 16 week download schedule miracle.

The Plan

The plan called for progressively longer runs up to as far as 32 miles. The long runs were planned 3-4 weeks apart. Why so infrequently? It’s simple, the research shows that it requires your muscle cells up to a month to recover from a 20 mile run. We wanted targeted runs not plodding and walking. We did not want garbage miles.

Track workouts were pivotal. Why? The research again is definitive that development of raw power and speed enhances all measures of fitness more efficiently than just throwing in garbage miles while reducing the incidence of injury. (Total miles is the #2 correlated aspect of training to injury; #1 is past history of injury.)

Rob did in fact have a history of some injuries. So, as another element to the master plan, we included one day of cross-training. It was an interval aqua-running workout. Which worked great because he ended up meeting his wife at noon at the pool one day a week. She did her swimming workout while he did his. It was a date.

He received ASTYM treatments for plantar fasciitis along the way. The results were excellent. Symptoms were completely resolved within about 4 weeks or so.

Some key program elements:

  • Weekly mileage over the year ranged from 18 to 52 miles
  • Highest weekly mileage was 52 (hit only twice in the week of 30 milers)
  • Average mileage however was about 30 for the year
  • Average mileage in the last 21 weeks was 32 miles
  • 1-2 track and/or hill workouts per week – the entire year
  • Aqua-running interval training once a week
  • 3-5 days a week of running
  • Easy weeks with only 3 days of running and under 20 miles total regularly interspersed
  • Long runs in summer were divided into 20 & 18 over the weekend due to heat (we’re in Phoenix, AZ remember… 110F daytime temps and lows of 95F)
  • The longest single run was a 32 miler in cooler weather (Spring!)
  • From May through September long runs were split Saturday/Sunday combinations
  • Day of rest before and after long runs
  • Longest run other than the “ultra-specific” ones were 10-13 miles

The Results

What were the results from this past year?

  • 400 meter PR in workout
  • 800 meter PR in workout
  • Mile PR from 5:57 to 5:47
  • 5k PR from 21:17 to 20:45 during a workout (he’s now confident that 20:00 is within his grasp)
  • 20k PR 1:30:54
  • Half-marathon PR 1:37 to 1:34:51 (on a self-proclaimed bad day)
  • Marathon PR 3:37 (by over 15 minutes!!!) enroute to 50k
  • 50k in 4:21:29 – negative splits; last 10k average pace FASTER than to the marathon point
  • Disappointment because we found out only a couple months before the race; they omitted the 50 miler and left “only” the 50k.


If you want to be successful, stop looking for a magic bullet and quick fix. Running is not a downloaded online program. You are unique. The science is good but it has to be applied to an individual. That is where a knowledgeable coach is essential. Claudia and I worked well with Rob and his feedback to customize the program and optimize his results. At the same time Rob is an inspiration to us as coaches. He put us on the spot. He trusted us. We had to come through for him. We had to use the science we knew and apply it to this dedicated, persistent, patient runner. I was there as he started off on that 50k… and Claudia and I ran the last miles with him… picking off runners the whole way.

On behalf of Claudia, I want to thank Rob for a wonderful and fulfilling journey. I’m so glad to share in his success. But, in the end, he did it.. he ran every step… he ran every workout.

Coach Dean, Coach Claudia, Mike, Jan and Jim – our privilege to escort Rob to the finish.
Rob’s Entrourage

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