No matter what part of the running spectrum we slot into, whether we’re out for a 2-mile weekend jaunt or to haul it across Death Valley and surrounding mountain ranges, most of us want to know what we can do to run better—faster or longer, or happier and healthier with fewer aches, injuries and heaving breaths.
A team in Switzerland, interested in how runners who run different distances have different training needs, looked at the racing and training histories and anthropometric parameters of 15 men competing in an ultra event. According to their study published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a fast personal best marathon time appeared to be the only thing associated with their performance in the 24-hour ultra event.
The researchers did not find an association between success in this race and weekly training hours and miles, running years, or how many marathons and 24-hour runs a runner had completed. Nor did they find any relationship between anthropometric features such as age, height, mass, leg length, percent body fat and race success. (But, in another related study, some of the same researchers found that upper arm circumference is associated with race performance by male ultra-runners, so it’s clear these results are not definitive.) They did, however, note the relationship between fast personal best marathon times and success in this event. Though logically, wouldn’t training factor into a runner’s ability to run a fast marathon? (The study authors point out they did not look at training intensity and this could be important.)
What fascinates me about this study are not necessarily the results, but is the race where the researchers collected the data—a 24-hour run in Basel, Switzerland, where runners ran around a track to see how far they could go in 24 hours.
I am inspired by the whole ultra-sport/endurance aspect of the race. I mean, the men in this study ran 136-240 km in a day. (Wow!) What I don’t quite get is why people would want to—pay to, even!—dash around in circles for 24 hours. I know I can’t discount anything unless I’ve actually tried it, but running the same track for 24 hours straight would drive me absolutely bonkers. I need the change in scenery. (Or, maybe I just need to feel like I’m going somewhere.) I like to think I am not a quitter, but in this case I am not sure what would make me give up first: exhaustion or boredom. However, I bet there’s someone out there who’s done this, or something like this, so speak up. I mean, this race is in its 20th year running. (This year’s race is next weekend.) So, leave a comment and tell us what it was like. Prove me wrong!
(Photo courtesy Jack, of Running With Jack)