What Is Your Training Strategy To Prepare To Run For 24 Hours?
Run for 24 hours? That is one option. Not an option I’ve incorporated into my training though.
Truth be told, I don’t entirely know how to train for a 24 hour race. I’ve never done it before, until this year. We’re a couple weeks away from finding out how well my training prepared me.
What I can tell you is what I’ve been doing since April to prepare myself to run the toughest obstacle course race in the world by November.
Learn From The Pain And Mistakes Of Those Before You
An obvious first step for me was to learn as much as I could about what people wished they would’ve known or done, going into this race. What pain did others experience that could’ve been prevented by the right preparation?
What did I find?
These are the consistent villains for first-time runners and experienced runners alike. If the darkness of the middle of the night doesn’t get you, the cold will.
The majority of my training season fell in the Spring and Summer months in Texas. Not much cold to be found there, but darkness is something I had access to every night.
Another Midnight Run
Most people can get themselves to workout in the middle of a nice day. Maybe you had a nice restful sleep the night before, it’s a beautiful day, and you decide “you know what, I’m gonna go for a jog”. Get your hydration beverage shaken up. Put your cute workout clothes on, and off you go.
How many of you are able to easily gear up for a 5-mile run at 11pm after a long day? That’s not as easy to get yourself to do. Challenge accepted.
As an entrepreneur dad, I don’t exactly have ample spare time in the middle of my day. When is the most convenient time to workout in my schedule? Midnight looks open pretty consistently.
The majority of my training runs took place after dark. Some as late as 1am or 2am.
“Ok but what is “dark” these days? There are street lights and city lights everywhere.”
Valid. However, I live in rural Texas. It gets DARK out here. You can actually see stars.
Darkness is something that a lot of runners struggle with at the World’s Toughest Mudder. Shoot, most of us grow up being afraid of the dark. Why? That’s how our brains work. When we can’t see something, or there’s something unknown, we defensively fill that unknown with bad things.
If I can’t train in the cold, at least I could train in the dark.
Hydrate, Refuel, Repeat
Before I started training for the 2023 WTM, I was a fairly casual runner. A few miles here and there when I had time, or needed to clear my head, but nothing consistent. When this is your running routine hydration isn’t making much of a noticeable difference. That’s not to say it’s any less important, it’s just to say you probably won’t notice the difference as much.
Once I put my training strategy in motion one of the first hurdles I had to overcome was cramps from insufficient hydration. I also started training as the weather was heating up for summer in Texas. Hydration is absolutely critical in the summer months in Texas.
So important we wrote a blog about it – here.
A consistent daily routine of spring water supplemented by an electrolyte beverage, has all but eliminated my cramping problem. This unlocked levels of training I couldn’t access before.
Race Operation Prep
This is where small things can make a big difference.
Shoutout to the WTM communities on facebook! Y’all were an excellent resource to have while getting ready for this race. If you’re preparing for a World’s Toughest Mudder, definitely join the WTM communities on facebook.
It may not seem like there’s much to do except show up and run, but that’s just not the case. Your pit crew is very important for keeping you in the race. Your goals are very important for keeping you in the race, and you need a real tangible plan for how you achieve each goal.
I’ve planned out each lap, and highlighted what obstacles we will have to face based on when they open. This will help us pace ourselves appropriately.
We have a list of equipment we might need, and inventory of that equipment.
We also have refueling plans for each runner.
All of this stuff is great until you’re half delirious in the middle of the night. That’s why your pit crew is so important. They know you’re plan, and they can make sure you have what you need, and know what you need without you having to put much effort into it.
All That’s Nice, But How Much Did You Run During Training???
This is what most training strategies boil down to, “how much?”.
The answer to that question truly varies by the individual, BUT I’ll tell you what I did and how I decided that was the right approach for me.
Most of my career as an athlete consisted of a lot of short-burst training, not long-distance training. Over time I gained decent upper-body strength through pole vaulting and football. Naturally, when I started running Tough Mudders in 2015, the obstacles were fun and pretty easy for the most part.
Running anything over 1-2 miles, on the other hand, seemed like a monumental challenge at the time. Since 2015 I’ve gotten more comfortable with training at longer distances. Still, running 50 miles in 24 hours is absolutely monumental for me. There was no doubt that distance was going to be the thing I needed to focus on while training for this WTM.
Some of you reading might be more aligned with my running teammate, Dalton. His long-distance race resume is long. Marathons on marathons. Elevation races. Long mountain hikes. Improving his upper-body strength to better handle the obstacles was Dalton’s focus at the beginning of our journey.
Oh and we can’t forget he’s been rehabbing a surgically repaired ACL, so that required a little focus as well.
Run Your Race
The first thing I wanted to establish was a very clear floor. The World’s Toughest Mudder is a 5-mile course, so that would become my floor. No training run would count if it was less than 5 miles. I wanted to know that at the very least I could go out for 5 miles just about any time of day, under any circumstance.
I didn’t want to just rack up a ton of mileage on my legs, although there was an element of that. I wanted to prepare for what this race would be. 5-mile loops under miserable conditions to complete exhaustion is basically what I chalked it up to.
Beyond just training in my own backyard, I wanted to build in some Tough Mudder Infinity races to act as training checkpoints. This was a very important part of my training strategy. I was able to get a decent evaluation of where I needed to improve training.
Training, and race day, should be about your race. That’s not a selfish perspective, it’s just a focused perspective. You can’t try to run someone else’s race because you didn’t have their circumstances in preparation.
Do you what you set out to do with total blinders to what others are there to do.
RUN. YOUR. RACE.
Over a 7-month period leading up to the race I ran between 55 and 80 miles in a month. That wasn’t always the same speed on the same track at the same distance. I mixed in sprints, varied distances, and other strength training on top of my running.
Could I have accrued more mileage? Certainly.
Ultimately, my goal was to improve overall capability. My endurance needed to be addressed in all areas, not just running.
I also incorporated 30-50 pushups per day starting about 3 months out from the race. That has been very helpful for raising my floor.
Am I Ready For The Race?
As ready as I can be.
One thing is certain, most things won’t go according to plan. I can’t be ready for anything except for being ready for everything.
Is my body prepared to log 50 miles in a 24-hour period across 100-200 obstacles? I think so. After putting almost 500 miles on my legs since I started training it might be reasonable to assume I’m a little worn out. But I’m not. I feel great!
The best way I can describe it is I feel capable.
I can’t credit any single thing for helping me feel as prepared as I can be. It’s been a balance of hard physical work, hard mental work, intentional recovery efforts, and good fuel intake. All part of the natural remedies lifestyle.
FEEL BETTER TODAY, Y’ALL!
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