What is a difference between 50M and 100M plans?


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  • #17821

    Hi 80/20 Endurance team!

    I finished 50M L1 training plan a week ago. As usual, the plan worked and my race went well. I just purchased 100M plan of the same level and applied it to my TP. I see slight differences in FR durations and sequence of specific workouts, every phase is one week longer, but overall the plan looks very similar. What surprised me the most is that the longest ER is 5 hours as well and only one week with 2 x 2 hours back to back ERs. Is there really much difference between the two plans other than the duration 22 weeks long instead of 19 weeks?

    Leyla Porteous

    Yes the difference are slight, but with the 3 extra weeks and weekly extra volume you will get the fitness needed to make the distance. With the longer running events there is a point at which you will get diminishing returns or worse, burned out or injured. So the plans are designed to build your endurance up safely over time and to a volume (appropriate to the level you choose) that will develop the fitness needed without over-training you.




    Let me clarify my doubts more. First of all, I have been using 80/20Endurance plans for a bit. I have IM/2 and full IM, marathon, 50M and now 100M plans. My wife and daughter use your running plans too. I was confident with upcoming races so far, but now I am in doubts. 50M incorporates the same longest long run on 5 hours as 100M plan. In fact, all your 50M and 100M plans of all levels have the longest run of 5 hours. Runs over 4 hours give little to no benefit – I heard about that too. If one believes in this runs over 5 hours will make diminishing returns. But there is not much of scientific proof of that (point me to those, I am not a professional). Yes, there are people who may run as little as 20% of the distance on the longest runs and still succeed on the race. Building fitness over time is more important. I understand all that. But there is another experience that matches my personal feelings after running 50M. Long runs are intended more to build confidence and practice nutrition. I ran about 50k on 5 hours long run during training. Everything was good. At the race I knew I have to slowdown anyways and aimed to about 6:15-6:30 per km. After 6 hours of running at about 57km mark I got some troubles. Up to this point everything went the same as on the long runs, but then my stomach stopped accepting gels, 30 mins later HR started to drop below 130. Next 10km were the most difficult. Then I recovered and made last 10k relatively fast. Looking back all that was an excellent experience. Ultras may not be pleasant at times. I accept that. But! I realized I learned something new about myself every next hour after 6 hours mark. I could not experience all that during the long runs of 5 hours or less. I am not looking to diminishing returns or burn outs, but how can I find out what’s going to happen in another 10 hours after running for 9? 9 hours is my time on 50M and I am aiming at 19 on 100M on the same flat terrain. Once again, I am a follower of 80/20Endurance principles, but I have big doubts I can build any confidence for 100M with only 5 hour long runs.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by yuryshafirin.
    David Warden

    Yury, these are good points. There are two primary reasons why we cap all runs at 5 hours:

    1. As you have pointed out, there are diminishing returns for runs after 4 hours.
    2. There are significantly increasing damages for running longer than 4 hours. This second point is critical in that it’s not just that you are not improving your fitness after 4 hours, you’re making things worse.

    Yes, experience matters. Our position is that the damage from running longer than 5 hours outweighs any benefit from the experience you’ll gain from running longer than 5 hours.

    Some Ultra programs have a long run of 3 hours, some have a long run of 7. I’m not aware of any scientific study on the optimal long Ultra run, it really comes down to a matter of the coach drawing a line in the sand.

    Or, imagine this. If not 5 hours, then why not 6 hours? If not 6 hours why not 8? If not 8 hours why not 12? Why not 30 hours? Clearly, there must be an upper limit to the long run, and we choose 5 hours based on our experience.

    Maybe that number changes to 6 hours in the 2023 Edition plans, maybe 4 hours… 5 hours just happens to be the number our athletes are succeeding with at this time.

    However, we also recognize that we are writing the same plan for thousands of runners. Surely, what is best for Athlete A is not best for Athlete B. It is very possible that you can run longer than 5 hours and not sabotage your training the next week.

    So, let me give you the single rule that any athlete can use to determine their long run: your long run should be as long as possible without compromising your training the following week.

    So, for you that really could be 8 hours if you can recover that fast. For someone else, it might only be 3 hours. We have to write the plans for the masses, and 5 hours is our best sweet spot that we feel applies to the broadest number of athletes.




    Thank you for the through explanation. It makes sense. I understand I can try to experiment and increase the duration of the long runs to see how it works for me. However, I can never make it close to the duration of the race distance, so part of experience will come with more races and really no workaround for that.


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