Running non stop for 24 hours is crazy. It doesn’t matter whether someone runs 60 or 120 miles in that time, just moving for 24 hours is a feat in itself! So why are people so keen to run all day without stopping?
Part of the appeal has to be the fact that these races are as much of a test of sheer determination as of fitness. Most of these courses are run around a short loop between 400m and 5 miles, meaning that not only do you have to battle tiredness and muscle pain you also have to cope with running round and round in circles for hours and hours on end.
And while this particular type of ultra endurance racing might seem like the fringe of an already fringe sport, there is a tonne of takeaways that any runner can learn from them.
Pushing your limits doesn't mean you have to enter some ultra endurance event, it could mean entering that half marathon you've been eyeing up for the last couple of months or it could be as simple as stepping off road and trying your hand at trail running. Everyone is different, just find something that makes you feel a little nervous and give it a go! You'll always be glad you tried it.
As the mileage of an event starts racking up, the need to have your nutrition dialled in becomes increasingly important. One of the most interesting things at the Endure 24 race in Leeds was wandering around and seeing just how much real food all the runners were wolfing down during the race. With everything from Curry to flapjacks getting scoffed, and as the clock ticked on there were less and less relying solely on gels and sweets. Experiment and find what works best for you in the safety of training and then once you find some firm favourites start incorporating them into your race routine. Don't be tempted to try the latest and greatest bar or drink on the start line whatever you do!
Running loops can be boring but they also can allow you to push yourself harder than before and without the worry of burning out miles from home or getting lost on the way. Not only is running loops simpler it also can help you build some serious mental resilience (running the same one mile loop 20 times is hell) it also is a really easy way to keep an eye on your pace without a GPS.
We all know that sleep is vital to not only performance but living a long healthy life too, but sometimes it’s worth skipping a good night's sleep in favour of stepping well out of your comfort zone. Pick a night when you've got nothing on, wait for it to get dark, grab your head torch and head out the door.
This is even better if you can go somewhere free of street lights, cars and other distractions, though I heavily recommend running a route your comfortable with first (unless you want to get temporarily lost on the moors like I did).
If you find yourself struggling to run, walk. it doesn't matter if you are already out on scheduled run and can't run any further or haven't even got out the door yet. There is no shame in walking and it's a lot better than giving up! Time on your feet is one of the most overlooked aspects in a lot of training programs and something that we could all benefit from more of.