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How to run a 24-Hour Race

The 24-hour race. No set mileage distance, just a set time. The runner's goal in this event is to see how far she/he run within 24-hours. For some, it may be to qualify for the US 24-hour team. If this is the case, then you do have a set mileage you need to hit. Men 145 miles and women 130 miles. Usually the race is held on a looped course or a 400 meter track.

Goal Mileage

In a common ultramarathon, where the distance is set, your intentions are probably more focused on setting a new PR. Exploring how much faster you can complete 50 miles or 100 kilometers. In a 24-hour event on the other hand, you want to establish a target distance. It is really up to you on how far you want to go. What is the amount of mileage that is achievable for you? You apparently have to base the feasibility on what you accomplished during your training thus far.

Pace Setting

Setting your pace is just as important as deciding the amount of mileage you want to run. In fact, this decision is going to be your main pre-race planning scenario. Some runners deciding to start the race in a fast gear and then shift to a lower gear as the day turns into night. Other runners will begin slowly and attempt to finish stronger. However, then there are those who plan to maintain a steady pace all through 24-hours. Runners moving fast on the course usually take longer rest periods; while those who go slow and steady almost never leave the course except for shorter breaks.

It can be helpful to break down the day into more digestible morsels and set your run/walk strategy accordingly. 24-hour races are more of an intervals game. This type of training run should should have been a focus, along with practicing with a timer set according to your planned pace.

Nutrition/Fluids/Gear/Medical Preparation

Besides needing a long holding charge watch, you’re going to need fuel and extra gear. The importance of replenishing lost calories and fluids plan a huge role in how you will perform. Make a plan for how many times you’re going to change shoe, socks and other clothing. Prepare for inclement weather - bring a waterproof jacket, etc. First Aid medication and tools to treat your blisters/chafing. 24-hour events allow for ample crew and aid station accessibility.

Take especial note of how you plan to stay up and running through the night. When it’s the graveyard shift, caffeine is going to be friend.

Preparing your mind

Most of us ultrarunners get fulfillment in set distances and running through beautiful trails. Seeing varied landscapes can certainly take your mind off the numerous aches. A 24-hour track race with its looping course however doesn’t offer such an advantage. After one loop you have probably memorized every detail of the course - and that is fairly boring. That is why it is recommended to divide the day into intervals. Counting how many hour are left can just discourage you. 30 or 10 minute distance goals can help your sanity.


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