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RE: What does it take to run a sub-4 hour 50k?
I've run a bunch of 50ks under 4 hours, with a best of 3:35 on a "fast course" (around a lake, rolling terrain, certainly no mountains). Most were around 3:45-3:55.

In that time period my marathons on roads were in the 2:35-2:42 range.

Decent mileage, hitting the 70-80 a week spot, rarely any more.

I'd hit some road races along the way, with times arouns 15:45 5k, 33:00 10k, 1:13 Half.

Trainjng was about as predictable as can be: weekend long run (20 MAX), a speedier workout once a week (ex. 10x800 at 2:30) and some sort of tempo effort (maybe 2x3 mile at 5:30 pace). And if possible, I'd put that tempo run into a decently long mid week run, say 13-16 miles.

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