Running A 24 Hour Race – How is it different?
Leading up to a 24 Hour Race, my family, friends and co-workers are always filled with questions. How do you do it, why do you do it and how far do you plan to run. I thought I would address some of the items that make a 24 hour endurance run a little different than your orddifferent then a marathon.
First off and the most obvious is the time. Elite runners/racers finish a marathon in little over 2 hours. The world record being set in Berlin at 2:02:57. The stand out local runners will finish the 26.2 mile race running something under a sub 3 –hour time. The most amateur runners will finish just under or be slightly over 4 hours…but a 24 hour race is just that 24 hours, 1440 minutes, and or 86400 seconds. No matter if you’re and elite racer, the stand outs and the amateurs…regardless of your standing in the runner/racer hierarchy, the race is what it is; a 24 hour endurance challenge.
Second, you have to eat. You can be the fastest. You can be the middle of the packer or you can be the slowest, but at some point you have to eat. Much of your success in a 24 hour race is not so much in how fast you can cover the ground beneath your feet, but how well you refuel your body. Proper nutrition or lack thereof takes out more runners at timed endurance events than anything else. When you Run over four hours you have to refuel. At some point around the four hour mark the demand for energy is going to surpass the energy stores in the liver and muscles. This loss of fuel is going to rear its ugly head in the form of a severe lack of energy and muscle fatigue (AKA pain.) How you fend off this depletion of fuel is what can make or break your day. How you meet the needs of the machine that is propelling your body around the course will spell success or failure.
Third, is your feet. You must take care of your feet. Without a solid base underneath you you’re doomed. Blisters, rocks, sand, swelling and fatigue are just a few of the challenges to a successful race. Being able to run, walk or crawl without intense pain is key. You’re going to get tired, you’re going to be hungry, you’re going to get bored…add into that the burning sensation of blistered feet and it could be the straw that delivered failure to the camel.
And finally fourth, is your mental state. 24 hours of anything is a long time. Compound that day long length of time with continuous work, overcoming physical challenges, hunger, thirst, weather and the constant mental gymnastics while counting down the miles to your goal distance and staying in a positive mental state may just be the biggest obstacle during the race.
A 24 hour race is both rewarding and crushing at the same time. I’ve run six 24 hour races. It has been my white whale. I have tasted victory, felt pain, relief, and devastation. If I could accept the time require to finish, kept myself fueled, protected my feet and stayed positive I had a wonderful time.
If your up for a challenge give a 24 hour race a try.