Run those numbers again


I’m not a big fan of math but I do like calculations, planning, and strategy. The other day I sat down to look at what speed I need to travel to make the 30 hour cutoff in the 100 mile races that I have lined up for this year. The absolute slowest that I can go to make the 30 hour cutoff is 3.33mph which is an 18 minute mile. This is including all pit stops and weigh-ins. Usually ultramarathons weigh their runners in every 25 or 50 miles to make sure that the runners haven’t dropped too much weight during the race. Safety first.

I then punched in the numbers to see how fast I would have to travel to finish the race in under 24 hours. I would have to travel 4.17mph or a 14.4 minute mile.

Both these times sound really slow to short distance runners and joggers. During training runs I keep it at around a 12-13 minute mile which is also slower than I’m used to but not by much. Several years ago when I used to run all the time I would keep it around a 10 minute mile, so I’m not very fast to begin with, but when I kept it at a 10 minute mile I was able to go about 12 miles before having to stop and walk. Of course, that was quite a long time ago. Now, I do a lot more run\walking (run a few minutes, walk a few minutes, repeat).

I’ve been looking into racewalking because it is much lower impact than running due to not having a “crashing” phase like running does. When running, both feet leave the ground which means that gravity is forcing your body to crash down and all that weight is focused on the knee. My left knee started hurting after I went flying down the trails during my “billy idol” run. I took a couple weeks off and now that my knee feels better I don’t want to do anything that will force me to take any more time off because it feels like time is winding down very quickly and race day will be here sooner than I can count. So I want to incorporate more speed walks into my training because it’ll be lower impact and because in ultraruns it is pretty much a necessity to walk anyways, which means I’ll need to be able to walk without slowing down too much.

Another reason to consider racewalking is because towards the end of the race it is not uncommon to see walkers catch up with runners. A walker keeping a steady, consistent 16 minute mile will catch up to the runner who started off with a 12 minute mile and then slows down to a 19 minute mile. I’ll need to look into it more. I don’t want to walk the entire race though, but I want to be good enough at walking that I can transition seamlessly from walking to running and back and have plenty of energy to make it through the entire race. I have heard that good racewalkers hit speeds faster than I run and keep it up for long distances. In fact, the walking equivalent of the ultrarunner is the centurion. To become a centurion, a racer must walk 100 miles in under 24 hours in competition. This is definitely something I want to learn more about. Mastering the racewalk would mean that a runner could walk at the same speed as he\she is running meaning that he\she’ll be able to run\walk without skipping a beat. Of course, it’ll mean doing a funny walk but by the end of the race most people are walking funny anyway. I’ll follow up soon with more information on racewalking.

5 days until Volunteer run 10k.

14 weeks until Tough Mudder.

21 weeks until Born to Run 100 mile ultra.

43 weeks until 100 Mile Endurance Challenge.