How Many Miles Is a 50k? Your Guide to 50K in Miles

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Cross Training For Runners
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David Dack

If you’ve ever wondered just how long a 50K race is or what it takes to conquer this grueling challenge, you’ve come to the right place.

The 50K race is not your average marathon. It’s a whole new ballgame, filled with unique hurdles that will push even the most seasoned runners to their limits.

This event demands more than just physical stamina—it requires mental fortitude and unwavering determination.

Now that you have an idea of what the 50K race entails, let’s discuss some training strategies to help you conquer this monumental challenge. From building up your mileage gradually to incorporating strength training and cross-training, we’ll cover the essential steps to ensure you’re fully prepared to take on the 50K like a true champion.

Are you ready? Let’s get started.

How Long Is a 50K in miles?

So, you’ve set your sights on conquering a 50K race—what an incredible decision! Allow me to congratulate you on embarking on this extraordinary challenge. Trust me, it’s no small feat, and I tip my hat to your courage and determination.

Now, let’s talk numbers. How long is a 50K exactly? Well, my friend, a 50K translates to 31.07 miles. That’s right, you’ll be venturing into the realm of ultra-distance running, surpassing the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles (or 42.19 kilometers).

It’s a true test of your endurance, mental grit, and the power of your indomitable spirit.

To put this distance into perspective, imagine running 10 consecutive 5K races. Each 5K is 3.1 miles, so when you stack them together, you’ve covered a jaw-dropping total of 31 miles. It’s an awe-inspiring distance that will push your limits and redefine your perception of what you’re capable of achieving.

Now, here’s where things get interesting. While a 50K can take place on the road, it’s often embraced by nature enthusiasts who prefer the challenge of traversing natural trails.

Picture yourself immersed in breathtaking landscapes, winding through forests, conquering rugged terrains, and experiencing the raw beauty of the great outdoors. It’s an adventure that will leave an indelible mark on your soul.

But don’t let the additional 5 miles fool you. The 50K demands utmost respect and dedicated training.

It’s an entirely different race style compared to your standard marathon. You’ll need to tailor your preparation to tackle the unique demands of this endurance event, building both your physical strength and mental resilience.

Here’s something to keep in mind: most 50K events operate with limited aid stations along the course. This means you’ll have to be self-sufficient when it comes to hydration and nutrition.

It’s essential to plan and pack accordingly, ensuring you have the fuel to sustain you throughout the race. After all, you’ll be conquering long stretches without the luxury of regular refueling stops.

Is 50K an Ultra-Marathon?

Technically speaking, any distance longer than the standard marathon is considered an ultra-marathon, making the 50K the next longest established race after the marathon itself.

It’s like stepping into a whole new dimension of endurance running where the limits are pushed even further.

When we talk about ultra-marathons, we enter a realm where distances vary, terrains challenge, and the courage of the participants is truly tested. Among the most popular ultra distances are the 50K, 50 miles, 100K, and 100 miles.

Each race brings its own set of unique obstacles and rewards, demanding extraordinary physical and mental strength. These races are not for the faint of heart, quite literally and figuratively.

Training for an ultra-marathon is no small feat. It’s a journey that requires years of sweat, dedication, and unwavering commitment. The load can become seemingly unendurable at times, pushing you to your limits and beyond.

That’s why it’s often elite athletes who undertake the rigorous training required for ultra-marathons. It’s not just a hobby; it can become a full-time job in itself, with long hours dedicated to running, conditioning, and mental preparation.

What Is The World Record For 50K?

The current world record for the 50K distance is held by Ketema Negasa, an exceptional Ethiopian runner who blazed through the course in a remarkable time of 2 hours, 42 minutes, and 7 seconds.

His awe-inspiring performance took place at the Nedbank Runified 50K Race in South Africa, where approximately 100 elite ultra-runners from around the globe gathered to showcase their prowess.

When it comes to the women’s world record, we have Aly Dixon, a remarkable British athlete, claiming the title.

In 2019, at the IAU 50k World Championships in Romania, she conquered the distance in an impressive time of 3 hours, 7 minutes, and 20 seconds. It’s a testament to her exceptional endurance and determination.

Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that Des Linden, a phenomenal American runner, achieved an unofficial women’s 50K record of 2 hours, 59 minutes, and 54 seconds at a small event in Oregon, leaving us in awe of her incredible feat.

How Long Does it Take to Run a 50K?

The running time for a 50K is influenced by a myriad of variables that can make each experience unique. It’s like embarking on a thrilling adventure where the path ahead is filled with twists and turns, testing both your physical prowess and mental fortitude.

When it comes to estimating your running time, there are several factors to consider. Your fitness level, training experience, age, terrain, and even weather conditions all play a role in shaping the outcome. It’s like a complex equation where every variable adds its own flavor to the mix.

Generally speaking, a 50K race demands a slower pace compared to your standard marathon. You can expect to run about 10 to 30 seconds slower per mile than your marathon pace. In terms of percentage, we’re talking about a roughly 10 to 20 percent reduction in speed compared to your usual road running rhythm.

However, please note that these numbers are just rough estimates, and the actual pace can vary depending on the circumstances.

Let me paint a picture for you. Imagine you’ve achieved a fantastic marathon time of 3 hours and 30 minutes, cruising at an impressive pace of 8 minutes per mile.

Now, if we apply the aforementioned slowdown, you can anticipate completing a 50K in approximately 4 hours and 14 minutes to 4 hours and 25 minutes.

That translates to a pace of around 8 minutes and 10 seconds per mile to 8 minutes and 30 seconds per mile. Keep in mind that this is just a general guideline, as each race presents its own unique challenges.

Now, let’s talk about average finish times. On average, a good 50K finish time for men falls around 6 hours and 13 minutes, while women tend to finish around the 6-hour and 49-minute mark.

Of course, these numbers can vary based on individual capabilities, training, and race conditions. It’s all part of the beauty of the sport—each runner crafting their own story and conquering their personal goals.

Additional resource – How many miles is a half marathon

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How To Run Your First 50K

Here are a few tips to help you have your best 50K race.

Train Right

First things first: training. As a beginner, your primary goal should be to reach that elusive finish line. It may seem like you’re setting the bar low, but believe me, you’re about to step into uncharted territory, and the unexpected awaits.

It’s like exploring a hidden realm where each step takes you closer to realizing your potential.

The amount of training you’ll need depends on your starting point. If you’re new to running, brace yourself for a year-long journey to adequately prepare for the challenges ahead.

On the other hand, intermediate runners—those who have been running consistently for three to four months, covering a minimum of 40 miles per week—can embark on their 50K adventure within six months of focused training.

Now, let’s talk about advanced runners—the ones who have conquered marathons and possess the prowess of a sub-3-hour marathoner. These seasoned athletes can tackle a 50K race within a tighter timeframe of two to three months. It’s like they’ve already acquired the key to unlocking their inner potential.

So what should you do next?

So, what’s the next step on this incredible journey? Once you’ve built a solid foundation of regular running—approximately a year without any major injuries or setbacks—it’s time to set your sights on an ultra-only race.

Give yourself four to six months to prepare for your first 50K, following a well-designed training plan that gradually increases your mileage and intensity.

To thrive in the world of 50K, you should aim to build your weekly mileage to over 50 to 60 miles per week.

Consider 40 miles per week as your starting point, gradually working your way up to the 60-mile mark. This gradual progression will strengthen your body and mind, ensuring you’re adequately prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

It’s like constructing a sturdy bridge, brick by brick, until it can withstand any storm that comes its way.

Ideally, you should have already completed more than one marathon and be confident in your ability to tackle the additional five miles. It’s like adding a touch of adventure to a familiar path, a challenge that stretches your limits but doesn’t overwhelm you.

Do Your Long Runs

I hate to sound like a broken record, but ultras are long.

That’s why doing plenty of long runs is key to building the required endurance and mental resilience.

Long runs—those seemingly never-ending treks that test your physical and mental limits—are the backbone of ultra-marathon training. I won’t sugarcoat it; they can be a real challenge.

But fear not, for with the right approach, they can also be incredibly rewarding and enjoyable. Think of them as your epic adventures, where you venture into uncharted territories and conquer new milestones.

Since there are a whopping 31 miles in a 50K, it’s essential to build the necessary endurance and mental resilience.

That’s where those long runs come into play. Embrace them as your training ground, where you strengthen your body and sharpen your mind. They’re like forging a mighty sword, honing its blade with every stride.

Your Nutrition

Now, let’s talk nutrition—a critical component of your training and race-day success. While drastic changes to your nutrition plan may not be necessary if you already have a solid approach, it’s wise to make some adjustments to fuel your extended mileage.

Consider increasing your daily calorie intake by up to 20 percent. After all, you’ll be burning more fuel as you log those miles. Think of it as adding extra logs to the fire to keep it burning bright.

And during your long runs, take the opportunity to practice your fueling strategy. Unlike standard road marathons with regular aid stations, most ultras require you to be self-sufficient when it comes to nutrition. So, experiment with different options, find what works best for you, and fine-tune your fueling plan.


It’s crucial to remember that your body needs ample time to rest and rejuvenate. Without proper recovery, all your hard work can go down the drain. So, listen to your body’s cues and prioritize recovery alongside your training efforts.

First and foremost, sleep like a champion. Aim for a solid eight to nine hours of sleep each night to allow your body to rebuild and recharge. Think of sleep as the secret elixir that replenishes your energy reserves and keeps you strong.

When it comes to cross-training, be mindful not to overstrain your muscles. While it’s essential to engage in complementary activities to maintain overall fitness, find the right balance.

You don’t want to exhaust yourself to the point of diminishing returns. It’s like walking a tightrope—finding that sweet spot between pushing yourself and avoiding burnout.

Get The Gear

Going the extra mile—or six—requires a lot more gear than a relatively shorter race distance, such as the half marathon or marathon.

Your ultramarathon gear may make or break your race.

Some of the essentials include:

  • Lightweight backpack
  • A small first aid
  • A mix of fuels, such as gel sweets, energy bars, and rehydration packs
  • Chafing creams
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreens
  • Lightweight waterproof layer
  • Rock tape
  • Good quality headlamp
  • Spare batteries

All in all, the more technical the terrain, the more gear you’ll require.

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