WARNING: The intent of this writing is not to be arrogant or boastful. I do not see myself as any different than anyone else. No better or worse, especially on the subject of running. All I aim to do is present my ideas, experiments and results on running in a semi scientific form in order to share and potentially convince anyone that they can do the same, which in this case, happens to be running a 100 mile race with little to NO TRAINING. There is little research on this subject that I can find, and the running industry will certainly not agree nor want to agree with these ideas because they do not sell anything. No training plans or special strength exercises found in magazines and books are needed, no time equipment, tempo runs, gels, no shoes even. No fear is used so you go buy something to ease those fears. There are, however, potentially thousands of variables that are not listed here and I KNOW THAT. I know people are born with some genetic differences as well as form different ones throughout their life, too. But I also think that we are capable of doing much more than most think. I think we are potentially LIMITLESS.
Preface and Prerace!: Part 1: I Believe… I Can Run A 100 Mile Race Without Training
The Goal: Run a 100 Mile race without any training.
The Result: 27:57, although I consider it more a 24 hour run due to some circumstances I highlight in my race report. Barely any soreness the next day. No real difficulties during the race. Totally awesome time and peace inspiring!
Size and Age: 6’2 185lbs. I am not considered a small male by any means. I have broad shoulders, a big head, and big bones. I am 31 years old with a birthday coming in June.
The Race: Rocky Raccoon 100, located in Huntsville, Texas. The course was flat for the most part, with multiple types of trail terrain including an abundance of roots and mud following the rain. Not very rocky at all, ironically. The temperatures went from 60′s to low 40′s, maybe under, during this race. The race started in thunderstorm down pours, then went to light rain for about 6 hours, then to dryness, then cold. Story details featured in Part 3: Race Report(s).
The Theory: Live an active lifestyle, eat natural, especially fruit, and have good running form, barefoot style, and we can run a 100 mile race without training.
Explanation relative to me:
1. Live an active lifestyle – I valet 4 days a week. 3 of them I will run under 4 miles total, with a light sprint on a light hill for 150 meters per run. The remaining is well under 1 mile the entire day. I am standing all day. I occasionally run to work which totals 4 miles, 2 coming and 2 going.
2. Eat Natural – I eat almost entirely raw fruit. A typical day will have me eating 10 oranges for breakfast, 12 bananas and half an lbs of spinach for lunch, and 6 grapefruit for dinner or say 8 dates. This increases if I am highly active. I occasionally eat cooked foods but I stay vegan, meaning, no animal anything to eat. After this 100 miles, I am CONVINCED the raw fruit way of eating is perhaps the biggest variable of my race as you will see.
3. Run in good form, light and easy; run barefoot or as close to the barefoot style as possible. The entire race I concentrated on taking the fastest steps I could and it paid off more than ever before (180 steps +). Cadence is the way! I wore the Luna Sandal ATS this entire race. This sandal is now discontinued due to creation difficulties but the link provided is close. The only difference in mine is that mine are 2mm thinner, being the Pacer variety, with a non slick surface which is amazing! The ATS laces are my preferred trail lace period. I realize that footwear should be mentioned as a bigger variable here since I did this race in sandals and I usually run in thinner materials, which contribute to my very strong feet, and what that could mean to any race. I feel this topic is bigger than the scope of this piece although it should be noted I personally feel shoes with padding can only hurt the runner in long term, be it hurting their form, or not allowing their feet to get as strong as they could be. But this isn’t always the case. Just was for me once upon a time.
It should be mentioned I have run a 100k trail before, last April, 9 months ago. And I have run two 50 milers, the same one last year and the year prior. At least one 50 miler is probably needed before doing an entire 100, and for a 50, maybe a marathon is required. I mention this only because of the mental and physical difficulties. But I cannot be certain.
Drink: I drank only water the entire race and half a small cup of Coke and Mt. Dew near the end when I was falling asleep.
Salt: I took NO SALT pills. They are debatable to me still. I have never cramped in running and I don’t see the need thus far but I also take my sweet time and I eat quite differently then those I have researched and talked to that do take salt. They may be needed by speed demons, I don’t know. I did eat some Pringles chips occasionally, maybe a total of 20 throughout the race, among some other things that were salted, like M&M’s.
Fuel: I ate fruit throughout the race mostly, bananas, oranges, and dates and watermelon once. I ate a few tablespoons of chia seeds 4 times. I have done this frequently at some ultras, and I have yet to know if they do anything additionally to help energy levels. it is hard to tell. My biological research on the seed and its effects on humans shows it should help in many things but overall I have no opinion yet. I did have some junk here and there near the end. I always seem to indulge in ultras. Maybe a couple pickles, some instant mashed potato’s, some animal crackers, a powdered doughnut, and a few chocolate cookies. Yes I know chocolate typically has milk in it. I really don’t give a crap when I’m partying past 20 hours. It’s not an ideology, it’s an efficiency.
Breathing: Throughout this race I focused on breathing through my nose and keeping pace according to that in most of the race. I feel there is something to this that greatly benefits such long distances and endurance. Yoga running.
Mind: This is one of the more abstract of variables and hard to measure but I feel the mental aspect is equally one of the biggest factors of a race like this. I do not listen to my mind when it gets involved, especially negatively. That doesn’t apply to certain pains: if my body has shooting pain anywhere, I listen. But if my mind tries to comprehend time or distance, if it tries to tell me I have 60 more miles and that sucks or that I’m crazy, or that the rain is ruining the day, I quickly pay close attention to it, rendering those thoughts useless and disappearing. I do this in everything, it is part of my life meditation and I feel it makes all things easy and more peaceful. I feel it is a major factor in such a race and should be cultivated for all things.
Music: I do NOT listen to music nor did I during this race. I’m not entirely opposed to it, although I feel people shouldn’t be doing something they need distractions to get through. I’ve never seen somebody listening to their headphones at a movie theater during the movie.
Attitude: I love adventures and as a little kid I play for as long as it takes. This is valuable in all things: to always have as much fun as possible. It is easy once we get our minds out of the way. No need for seriousness. I would bet I smile more than most at this race, all the way to the end. I am positive this helps in all things, BUT it can’t be faked. Get the things out of the way that prevent total enjoyment is key.
No Training does not mean sitting all day long, every day. As mentioned above, I did run at my job. I ran to my job maybe 6 times in the past 3 months. I have gone dancing in the past few months occasionally, too. The long running I have done includes a fragmented 30 miler on streets the week before the race. I ran 10 miles to class, had class for about an hour, ran 10 more miles in the class with other students (I assist in a marathon training course), I ate at a restaurant nearby with a friend and then I ran home. I ran 21 street miles on January 1st. And on December 10th and 11th I did a back to back, both days near 20, one trail, one streets. I did a barefoot marathon in November. That’s 5 runs in 12 weeks. The last race I did before then was on Halloween and it was 50 miles. I had not trained then either. It was really no different than the above.
Another note is mid November to mid December I was working out in a gym almost daily for a class at school. I did full body workouts. My intent was to gain some upper body muscle mass based off my diet since I am constantly questioned about my lack of protein. I gained muscle mass during this time with no problem. I worked out maybe 2 times in January following that month. I cannot be sure that this working out helped or hurt anything in this race. If anything, I maybe weighed a few pounds more.
I nearly ran the entire race. I would stop and do my lone squat stretch at food stations, and take my time as I ate or visited, and I would walk the few hills we had, but I did not stop running until nearly mile 93 with the exception of when my headlamp went out.
I got a small blister on the outside of my right foot, caused by the sand rubbing during my late 13 mile speed session. I didn’t notice it til I finished the race nearly 5 hours later.
My feet were fine during and following the race and the sandals were near perfect. The only problem I had was the amount of sand throughout the race would build up under my big toes creating amazing annoyance and a constant need to water that area. I probably would have saved an hour if I didn’t have to stop so much for this problem. The top of foot buckle also rubbed me raw in a small place but not much considering the time.
Soreness: the biggest surprise of this experiment and race was the fact I was not sore the day after the race. I do not know why. I had some stiffness in the calf area and I could feel some wear when I stretched the quads and hamstrings. But it wasn’t enough to call it soreness. I blame my diet as the biggest factor on this one, as well as my light form. But more so the diet as good form or not, I am not trained to run this distance and time and I feel I should have been more done in than this. It really makes no sense to me and has jeopardized my experiment in many ways.
I now feel this entire thing is so abstract that the merits are too varied to be closer to proof of my theory. It is simply too relative to me, my bone structure, my job, my diet and how long I’ve eaten that way, my stress levels or lack there of, my constant well being, running form, strength of feet and other things that help in a 100 mile race, my bodies temperature regulation since I do not sweat much ever, and I do not get very cold either. Apparently some in my family have a huge tolerance for pain, as well. Any one of these things makes my claim of anybody can run a 100 mile race without training pretty foggy. But at this point, I think this study has turned into being a study of human potential more so than actual action.
I do feel we can all learn from this in a non specific way. I have a problem believing much that I read as well as what people tell me, especially regarding running. I feel the human potential is mind boggling and any limitations are usually mind created. I feel we are capable of things most deem impossible, like running a 100 mile ultra marathon without training. I didn’t even believe that but I’ve learned that my brain is not capable of much comprehension without experience. Now I KNOW. Sure it sounds daunting. I help people in marathon training every week, many beginners that think every new long run they do is crazy. People think a standard marathon is crazy, let alone anything more. I teach how to remove what gets in the way of enjoying the ease and natural feelings of this movement we are born with called running. I try and point out how our minds are our obstacles, more so then our bodies alot of times.
What I have realized is the point of all of this is that we are EFFIN AMAZING and can do alot more than what we are told we can do and what we think we can do. These bodies, these endurance machines, proof we are the dominant of endurance animals on this planet, when given some freedom to be natural, through our food, through our running form, through our naturally peaceful minds, we can run forever in joy.
The earth is a playground, but so are our bodies. We should not harm them but allow them to be what they can be. The experience of our bodies in long distance motion can be as breathtaking to an internal observer as a wild horse running through a field is to an external one. Don’t miss it! Get back to nature and play!