I know – equating the words “running 32 miles” and “fun run” do not exactly sound like they go together! But, it was a run run and even more so during the movement restrictions that are still in place! Here is why I ran 32 miles by myself and how I did it.
Running 32 Miles for Run
For years, I like to do some kind of interesting run for my birthday. A couple of times, I ran in marathon races but most of the time, I head out on a solo run of some kind. For a while, I would run my age in miles but once I got over 27 years old, I started switching to kilometers. 🙂
Last year, I did a marathon run on a 110 foot loop in my backyard near my birthday. That was over 1,300 laps! Read more about that here! Another time, I ran on a treadmill for a week, running each race distance I had done and trying to get within 10% of my best time – that was a 1 mile run, 5k run, 5 mile run, 15k run, 10 mile run, 10k run, half marathon (13.1 mile) run, marathon (26.2 mile) run, and a 50k run. It was interesting for sure!
This year, since I am in build up for the Badwater 267 VR Elite race, I thought I would attempt to run my age in miles – that means running 39 miles. The problem was that earlier in the week, a pair of my shoes that I tried squeezing some more life out of started to give me foot pain that sidelined me for a day. So, I thought I may need to scale back the distance a bit. Instead, I set a minimum goal of running a 50km run (31 miles).
The “Why” of Running 32.6 Miles
I did this yesterday, the date that was the 200th year of the Greek Independence war. Since I am currently in Greece, this means we are under movement restrictions that do not allow people to drive more than 2km away from their home unless the village grocery stores do not have what you need. Since all regular stores are closed, as well as dining establishment, there really isn’t that much to do anyways. But, while you cannot drive to do exercise, you can run! So, I wanted to run and check out the various celebrations in villages and the city along the way!
It was a little chilly (36 degrees F) and a little windy but that not bad. I headed out in the morning and ran 20 miles out. It was a very cool run, going by various groups and gatherings getting in place to celebrate Independence Day. I hit the marathon mark (26.2 miles) at 4 hours and 15 minutes and then hit the 50k mark in 5 hours and 12 minutes. I finished the 32.6 mile run in 5 hours, 27 minutes, and 16 seconds. This equated to a 10:04 minutes per mile pace.
One of the things I wanted to focus on was keeping an even, smooth pace that did not feel that hard. I also wanted to keep a lower heart rate. For most of the run, my heart rate averaged about 139 bpm with an overall of 145bpm. For me, that was pretty good.
The “How” of Running 32.6 Miles
Of course, the easy answer is “putting one foot in front of another.” 🙂 But, it actually is a bit more than that for this distance! In a regular marathon (or ultramarathon), you have aid stations to get your hydration and fuel. In a “fun run,” the runner has to plan all this out.
You never want to wait until you need fuel or hydration. By then, it is often too late and you will be suffering for a bit until your body is able to absorb what you put in. That means keeping regular times of fuel intake. I set goals of 7 mile stops. At each 7 mile interval, I would stop and take a GU gel and get a bottle of water (there are mini roadside stands all over the cities in Greece – open even during this period of lockdown and just 50 cents). At mile 20, I grabbed a small pack of Pringles to get some sodium.
I left with hat, gloves, and arm sleeves due to the cooler weather. But since this run would take over 5 hours, I knew I also needed to prepare to get warm. I wore a Fuelbelt pack that had two spots for water bottles (that I didn’t carry) and two little pockets on the sides that kept my wallet in one with keys and my phone in the other.
In the large pocket in the back, I kept 8 GU energy gels, my GoPro camera, and my Jaybird Vista charging case. As I got warmer, I took off the hat, gloves, and arm sleeves and put those in the water bottle carriers. Yes, it was a decent amount of bulk to carry but at least it helped with my core workout along the way!
The important part about such a run on your own is keeping your mind busy, keeping a smooth pace to not burn out, and just not thinking about the huge distance ahead. In a race, you have others to engage with, aid stations to look forward to, etc. On a solo fun run, it’s just you! I like listening to audio books so I did a lot of that. Mentally, it didn’t end up being that difficult. It was actually a really fun day overall!
During times of restrictions, lockdowns, and race cancellations, it is important to keep your fitness goals and targets in front of you. I was really looking forward to this “birthday run” and it turned out to be a fun one indeed! It was the longest I have run in several years and I was happy with the overall pace and feel of the run. Plus, it is just really cool to look at a map after and see how much ground you covered!