Training for 'The World's Toughest Footrace'
In February I was announced as one of the 100 “lucky” elite runners to be accepted into what has been branded as “The Worlds Toughest Footrace”, The Badwater 135. The race is a 135 mile run through Death Valley… in July. Running non-stop for 135 miles obviously presents its own challenges but adding in temperatures in the mid 120’s and you get one of the hardest endurance challenges on the planet.
Unlike most races where you can just sign up, this race has an application process, which is difficult to qualify for and is based on your previous ultrarunning history. Once you’ve qualified to submit your application and running resume, it then comes down to an independent panel of four people to review all resumes, and ultimately pick the top 100 applications from the pool. This year it was reported that there were well over 2,000 qualified applications for the race. To be chosen as one of the 100 racers is out of that deep of a field is, in a word, humbling.
Training for a race like this takes a lot of time, and a lot of planning. I am currently running around 100 miles a week (and will peak out around 150 miles in a week), with another hour each day being dedicated to other areas of my fitness, such as yoga, stretching, sauna time, core work etc.
If you’re curious what my running week breaks down to, here is a normal week of running for me:
Around 40 miles, averaging about 8:30 pace per mile. Due to my schedule, I do my longest runs on Mondays. This also works out well because the races begins on a Monday.
10 miles, at an easy pace
Speed work day. Usually somewhere around 10-15 miles, with half of it below 7 minute per mile pace.
12-15 miles at an easy pace
Another Speed work day. 7 miles, 6 of those miles below 6:30 pace per mile
10-12 miles at a consistent and comfortable pace.
That is obviously a demanding schedule, and one I don’t recommend most people try. I do take rest days, but they are few and far between. As crazy as this might sound, when training for a race of this magnitude, 10 easy miles becomes a recovery day for my body. Recovery is critical to keeping my body healthy and moving. I spend time every day to roll out my muscles, stretch, strengthen my core, and other little things to ensure my body holds up through this hard training block.
In the coming weeks I’ll write more about other aspects of running this type of race including: gear, nutrition, event planning and more. Have a topic you’d like to hear more about? Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and topic ideas.
-Don Reichelt, Ultrarunner and PR Bar Elite Team member