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RE: What does it take to run a sub-4 hour 50k?
First off, I'm an "also ran" runner, and am probably in the bottom 1% of LRC with no significant PR's to speak of (marathon PR: 3:19)
I ran a 50km road race on Saturday past at an easy long run training pace, and was marginally over the 4 hour mark. I placed about 200th out of almost 2 800 runners. Fair enough, it was a road race so it would be quicker than off-road, but is still one of the hotter and tougher races here in South Africa.
I've also run 2 x marathons in 2017 thus far, with a 48km coming up on the 2nd of April, and Two Oceans 56km coming up 2 weeks after that. I had no taper, no recovery, ran this 50km as a training run as part of a 130km week, with a brutal hill session 2 days before and a 16km interval workout the day before the race.
I'm not a quick runner by any means, I went into the run feeling dead tired already, and still ran in the vicinity of 4 hours. The point is, sub 4 is not going to turn heads. It's a nice number to aim for depending on your ability, but it's nothing special
Training-wise, same as the marathon (aiming for roundabout 3:15 finish)
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