With the recent weather and everything happening in the world, it can be easy to forgo fitness goals for the comfort and safety of the couch.
However, I encourage you to stay strong and have fun with fitness. Not every workout or activity has to be a dreadful experience.
Sometimes mixing up your routine and thinking outside the box can reinvigorate your drive to accomplish the goals you have in life.
That is the approach I took last month when I decided to celebrate my 26th birthday by running a marathon — 26.2 miles — over a 24-hour period. I called it the 24-Hour Marathon Challenge.
Sounds bonkers, right?
My inspiration came from an Australian YouTuber by the name of Beau Miles. He often takes on extraordinary and bizarre tasks and films them for all of us to enjoy.
In August 2018, he uploaded a video titled, "A Mile an Hour: Running a different kind of marathon".
The premise was pretty straightforward. Start the day with a 3-mile run, followed by a mile at the top of every hour until reaching 26 miles. He did as much as possible between each run, like making stuff, completing odd jobs, fixing things and cooking.
I set out to achieve the same goal from Jan. 24-25, though I didn't make the most of my rest periods like Miles. I feared doing too much between each run would leave me exhausted and cause me to label the venture with the dreaded DNF, or Did Not Finish, which is every runner's nightmare when it comes to competing.
So I stuck to what I knew best — running.
My journey began with a 3.22-mile run a little after 11 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 24. This was done to ensure I could fit the full 26.2 miles into the allotted timeframe.
I ran a hilly course through a nearby neighborhood and completed the 3.22 miles in 29 minutes, 20 seconds — a 9:06 per mile pace. Keep in mind this was not my race pace. I had to run slower early to ensure sustainability throughout the entire 24 hours.
Starting too fast risked the possibility of burnout, which would've undoubtedly led to falling asleep and failing to complete the mission.
After all, running the miles wasn't the difficult part. Staying awake to run them was the real challenge.
The next 4 miles were fairly easy; I ran them relaxed in 8:24, 8:37, 8:29 and 8:36.
It was unreal how quickly the hours were flying by, but because it wasn't what I consider "late" yet, that didn't faze me too much.
I ran those at my tempo pace, which is considered comfortably hard running, so I was starting to get a little tired. I wanted to sustain myself, so I slowed down a little after that to preserve energy.
I also picked up some Panda Express after Mile 7, and that kept my stomach satisfied for most of the remaining hours. A decent amount of orange chicken, honey walnut shrimp and cream cheese rangoons will do that for you.
Heading into the evening hours, I ran the next two miles in 8:48 and 8:55. It was after the ninth mile I started feeling some fatigue and minor pain in my left knee, so my times rose a bit beginning in the 6 o’clock hour (p.m.).
Miles 10 and 11 were run in the nine-minute range at 9:46 and 9:13, respectively, and I briefly dropped back into the eights for Mile 12 (8:56) before thunderstorms hit, forcing me to the treadmill.
This was incredibly disappointing because I had never run through the night before, and I was looking forward to the experience. Unfortunately, six of the next eight hours (9 p.m. – 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. – 4 a.m.) were spent running miles on the treadmill with times of 9:09, 9:38, 9:07, 8:58, 9:28 and 9:54. I managed to run miles 16 and 17 outside thanks to a break in the storms, clocking in at 9:45 and 9:40 at midnight and 1 a.m., respectively.
The weather finally cleared up around 5 a.m., and though I was able to get outside again, the pain in my left knee was unignorable. As a result, miles 21 through 24 were relatively slow with times of 10:14, 9:59, 9:51 and 9:37.
Mile 22 was interesting because a flock of geese overtook the trail I was running on, so I had to adjust my route. I am deathly afraid of birds, but I couldn’t let them keep me from completing the run.
With 2 miles to go, I finally got a second wind. I ran Mile 25 in 8:48, my fastest time in about 18 hours, and before I knew it, it was time for me to lace up my shoes one last time and finish up with all the energy I had remaining despite my deteriorated state.
I wrapped up the 24-Hour Marathon Challenge just before 11 a.m. with my fastest time of the event, clocking in at 8 minutes flat.
Just like that, I was done. I successfully tested my mental toughness, all with less than an hour of sleep.
This challenge was harder than I thought it would be, though I believe running this during the early summer months would’ve been much more convenient. Who doesn’t want to run miles at dawn in 70-degree temperatures?
Luckily for me, the weather was cooperative for being the middle of winter in Oklahoma. According to my Garmin watch, 48 degrees was the coolest temperature I ran in, while 53 degrees was the warmest.
It is hard to complain when the weather is that nice. If I had tried this challenge in conditions like what we experienced the past week, I am not confident I would’ve finished.
With this behind me, I am now focused on my training for the Golden Driller Half Marathon, which will be run on Saturday, April 17 in Tulsa. I am a member of the Fleet Feet training program, and running with a group has done wonders for my confidence and speed.
My goal is to break two hours in the half marathon, and with about two months until race time, I feel like I’m right on track while logging 30-40 miles per week.
What are your fitness goals? If you don’t have the time to exercise, try finding some way to get cardio or strength training in during whatever downtime might come along.
I’m not asking you to do this challenge because it takes a special kind of crazy to dedicate 24 hours to running, but try exercising 45 minutes a day for the next two weeks — nothing too extreme. That is about one TV episode.
You might be surprised at just how much better you feel and how much changes in your overall health and mindset.
Do you want to look better, feel better and set yourself up for future success? If so, commit to fitness.