So what on earth inspires a person to wish to run on a treadmill for more than 20 minutes? I wish I could provide a reasonable and plausible answer, however I can’t so, you’ll have to make do with a cobbled one.
In a constant quest to become more comfortable with speed, pacing and form, I have recently completed a few of my runs on a treadmill. In order to persevere with it, I found I had to try to make it more fun. So, about a month ago, I had the crazy idea to give the treadmill running a purpose in it’s own right. I perused the internet in order to see what kind of running had been completed on the treadmill and found my way to the realisation that 50km record hadn’t actually been set for women as yet – great, a goal!
I’d already completed a two hour run on the treadmill a couple of months ago. So, I decided to do another similar run at the pace that I thought was reasonable, comfortable, and likely to see me complete the 50km distance in about 4hrs 10 mins. As a result of this run, I couldn’t walk the next day. Was this going to stop a slightly unhinged Ultra Runner, no way! – if I could run 2 hours on a treadmill, I could run 4 surely?
Coincidentally, two weeks ago, an acquaintance and great runner Paul Navesey, had a crack, and smashed the Men’s 50km record in a staggering 3 hours 5 mins. I pondered the coincidence and wondered just how many other Ultra Runners take their longer runs indoors during the colder months? I felt slightly uncomfortable about having an attempt at the Women’s record given that a pal had smashed the Men’s. It just felt a little more, well, awkward. Nonetheless, I’d been here before (recently) where I had not fulfilled some of my goals because of similar timing and so, as uncomfortable as it felt, I stuck with it, selfishly. I certainly believed that the goal was achievable.
The week preceding “the run” was filled with doubt and I questioned my general capacity (something that has been plaguing me for a while). I guess it’s a mindful state that most runners feel at some point, however I had been having trouble shifting mine. I know I’m not a fast runner, yet I know I am resilient and have tenacity beyond comprehension at times, and that sets me apart. Four hours on a treadmill, no problem. Can you see the battle here?
In 2004, Edit Berces (Hungary) set a 24 hour world record on the treadmill and set the 100 mile, 100km and 50km record en route as well. So whilst there was no official Women’s 50km record, I was informed that I would have to complete the 50km in half of Edit’s 100km time of 8:35:05. Four hours ten seemed reasonable then, with a few minutes to spare. The criteria required that a standard treadmill was used, which would therefore need to be restarted every 60 minutes. It took about 40 seconds to restart and this would add to the overall time of the attempt.
My local gym was fully on board and gave me great support. I was not aware (until after the event) that they had gone to the trouble to have two brand new treadmills shipped in from Germany – fully calibrated to the standard. Wow, thank you Pure gym. Carl the Manager was remarkable, anything that I wanted he arranged.
The planned start was for 10a.m. on the 27th December 2014. I called at the supermarket en route, for petroleum jelly and pain relief, perhaps only Ultra Runners will understand this strange combination? I arrived at the gym and unpacked everything, ensuring all was correctly layed out and just right. Indeed everything was in its place and I rewarded myself with that complete sense of control and adequate preparation. until I realised I had lost my mobile phone! Panic set in and I realised (after emptying my kit bags several times) that I had probably left it at the supermarket’s checkout. I jumped back in the car, and calmly retraced my steps, smiling at the realisation, that you can try to control perfection, yet, life will still throw you anomalies that you just have to deal with.
A word with the security guard revealed that It was likely that my phone had gone! On the off chance, I went to the self service checkout where I had completed my purchases and to my amazement there it was! I picked up the gleaming black piece of technology, and headed back to the gym.
A pal, Ant Bethell and my coach John Danahay soon arrived at the gym too. These guys were to be the official time keepers and are both qualified to perform the job, which is a required rule for setting a World Record of this nature. A few priceless instructions, a quick interview with the local Newspaper and a couple of cheesy accompanying photographs on the treadmill and then I was off.
The run was pretty unremarkable and required two unplanned toilet stops. However, as my sister Angela pointed out, 4 hours would seem like 24 if I did not go! I had plenty of support from friends and family and without them, I’d not have completed the record. The distractions were important, as it was boring, and yet, conversing and watching those who were there, on their Saturday morning, giving up their time for me, made me more determined than ever to get the job done. At 3hrs 10 ish, I developed a stitch, possibly because I’d increased the speed of the treadmill by 0.3kmph and the change in pace sent me out of kilter and the stitch developed. I panicked as I was unsure I could ride through it. The pain was immense, It was crippling, and yet I felt I had no choice other than to take pain relief. After ten mins it settled and part of me considered I’d failed, another battle, tsk!
Of course I hadn’t failed, as I was still going, playing with the speed and trying to compensate for the stops and the restarting of the treadmill. I so desperately wanted to do well. The last 20 mins were hard work, the motivation came from John, he knew exactly what to say to keep me at it.
The world record was set at 4:15:01. It’s not a fast time, it’s almost embarrassingly slow, there are so many faster 50km runners out there. Are they daft enough to spend that time on a treadmill though? Of course they are and it’ll be great, if it’s inspired you ladies to take my record!
Gels: TORQ x8
300ml TORQ perfomance energy drink
Shoe: INOV8 F-light 195
INOV8 workout Short & Racevest
Treadmill was set at 12kph, however I tinkered with increasing this speed as I felt appropriate.