Greatest Distance Run On a Treadmill In 12 Hrs: 08/20/16
Total Miles: 89.56
The record I attempted is for the greatest distance covered on a treadmill within 12 hours. This record is measured in kilometers to the nearest 0.001 km, with the equivalent imperial measurement also given in miles.
The morning of, I woke up just before my alarm went off (~5:30ish) and felt rested and fresh. Already had bags packed and ready to go which allowed me to take my time and not feel rushed. Got dressed, applied some Second Skin and Band-Aids to areas of my feet where I’ve got blisters before, and also applied body glide to any areas that will likely have some friction during the run. Body glide provides a smooth barrier to protect skin against hot-spots and chafing. Before heading out the door I had a light breakfast consisting of a couple mini white powdered donuts, banana, Huma Chia Energy Gel (mango flavor), coffee, one serving of BeetElite Neoshot, and a serving of Klean Athlete BCAA +ATP.
I arrived to Luke’s Locker (local running store) around 6 a.m. and got situated and ready to go for 7 a.m. start time. I chose 7 a.m. because I didn’t want to wake up much earlier than I did which likely would catch up to me towards the end of the run, and also meant I would finish with there still being one or two hours of daylight remaining. The room I was running in at Luke’s Locker is a 10’ x 13’ Gait Lab where customers can come into the store to try on shoes and also have their running gait evaluated. Inside the room we had two decent size (3’x7’) Life Fitness commercial treadmills donated by ExerciseHouston.com, a one-ton portable AC unit that had a spot cool feature which could blow air at 32 degrees donated by DesertAire Portable, timer clock, and all my nutrition/hydration supplies plus extra clothes or shoes needed for the day. We took a group picture with Luke’s staff, which has been so generous and open to this event, did my required introduction for the video evidence, and got ready to go. >>> click here for video <<<
The rules require two Independent Witnesses and two Time Keepers be present at all times. Two ‘master’ stopwatches must be started by the Witnesses at the beginning of the event. Kyle Rodemacher, an ultra-runner and close friend of mine, was my Crew Chief for the day. He set the desired starting speed as I could not make contact with the treadmill per the rules. We started at 7 a.m. and I settled into a 7:30 pace (8 mph). Knowing what speed to begin at was up in the air until I started running. A couple days before, my coach (Ian Sharman) and I talked about strategy for this attempt. We figured it would be best to start out running a quicker pace then needed (to allow for flexibility later if problems occurred) and allow for a slower pace the last few hours. I know from experience and performance testing results that I can run 7:20 -7:40 minutes per mile comfortably without exerting too much energy. Therefore, my goal was 90 miles at a 7:48 per mile pace and allowing for 15 minutes of breaks.
I took my first Huma Gel (Raspberries flavor) at 4 -1/2 minutes and chased it with some water. One serving contains 100 calories and 22g of carbs, 105mg of sodium, 40mg potassium. There are also Huma Gels (Huma Plus) with extra electrolytes and a couple flavors that contain caffeine. On the treadmill I had one bottle of ALKALINE88 water and a bottle of Tailwind Endurance Fuel (Mandarin Orange flavor). ALKALINE88 is produced at an 8.8 pH, designed to obtain optimum body balance. Ronny Taylor, part owner of Alkaline Water Corp, donated enough water for this attempt. Tailwind Endurance Fuel contains 100 calories, 25g of carbs, 303mg sodium, 88mg potassium per serving and has always been easy on my stomach in ultra-distance events. My nutrition plan is pretty simple and highly effective. I take one Huma Gel every half hour, and sip on water and Tailwind as needed to stay hydrated. I was probably drinking close to a bottle of water and one serving of Tailwind every hour. I also took a few Klean Athlete Electrolytes pills every hour or two as needed and occasionally drank coconut water every so often.
It didn’t take long for my body temperature to rise and for me to break a sweat. The reason for the portable AC unit was to keep the air temperature inside the room as cool as possible. When I train at the gym, I sweat like crazy! I knew if we kept the temperature low (ideally 55-60 degrees), I could keep my body temp and heart rate lower and ultimately perform better. We had a back-up AC unit in case something happened to the primary unit, and decided to bring it into the room and position it behind me. It made a huge difference and created a nice cold air pocket for me to run in. I was sweating, but I felt comfortable and was a lot happier with this setup. Doing these things on the fly helped to eat up time and that was what I was hoping for during the morning hours. I didn’t want to be so strict with setting up that it got boring, so as things came up, we dealt with them. Little did we know there were more unexpected events.
At 35 minutes, I was getting the urge to pee, which I wasn’t thrilled about stopping that soon, but at least I knew I was well hydrated. We planned to stop the treadmill at 8 miles and then I would use the restroom and hop back on. Eight miles was going to be around 1 hour and 27 seconds. Kyle was standing next to the treadmill with the Time Keepers and Witnesses. At exactly one hour the treadmill automatically went into a cool down mode (7.94 miles). We didn’t expect that and I’m fortunate everyone was there to witness and document it. I got off and went to the restroom and then did some light stretching and foam rolled the glutes and hip flexors. I took a 1 minute 41 second break and the treadmill restarted at zero. We didn’t realize this but when we powered off the treadmill the night before, it didn’t save the marathon mode that we had programmed. At that point, I figured I would have to start taking breaks every hour, which again wasn’t part of the plan. I just went with it and didn’t worry too much about it.
The next hour I picked up the pace to 7:14 per mile (8.3 mph). I cruised there, thinking I would run quicker now that I would be taking more breaks. It was much cooler in the room with the air flow from the two AC units. This hour I decided to listen to music and let time go by. Music allows me to get into a rhythm and distract my mind from the effort of running faster. I can focus on staying relaxed and running as efficient as possible. Luke’s Locker has running groups that meet at their store on Saturday mornings, so there was plenty of traffic coming in and out of the store. As the runners finished up with their training runs, they would come inside the store to stretch or use their facilities. It was entertaining for me to observe and distracted my mind. I also had posters on the glass wall in front of me. Most of them were from my kids and the kids I had an opportunity to coach this summer at Finish Strong’s youth running camp.
Exactly one hour later (2 hr. mark), the treadmill went into its cool down mode again and I headed off to the bathroom. During this break I changed socks and shoes because I was getting a hot-spot on the inside of my left foot. I had a couple Band-Aids on this spot already and put on a couple more for extra protection. This is one of the nice things about running in a controlled environment as opposed to a trail race. It’s more convenient to address things as they happen and you don’t have to wait until the next aid station or stopping point. I took about a 2 minute 40 second break and then got back on the treadmill and had the pace set to 7:19 (8.2 mph) which felt effortless. Went that hour running comfortably and watched the Woman’s Olympic Triathlon race. We then scheduled another break and had a couple new Time Keepers and Witnesses change shifts around three hours. My wife also showed up around this time so it was good to see her and other new faces visiting the store. Everyone has their own way of handling mental barriers and for me it’s breaking down the event into smaller goals. I knew I had to get to 12 hours, but I viewed it differently and didn’t get caught up with the total time. Getting to 10 a.m. was a small victory for me. I visualized my long training runs I did leading up to this which usually started at 7 a.m. and finished up around 10 -11 a.m. Plus, having my wife show up at this time allowed me something to look forward to. It was good for me knowing she was able to rest and take care of the kids in the morning and then be there to support me. The next victory would be reaching 6 hours, seeing my kids, and getting some adjustments from my Chiropractor.
At 3:07:44 the treadmill stopped automatically and a message displayed “Replace Emergency Stop Switch”. Here come the unexpected events. The emergency switch was duct taped in place so I wouldn’t accidently knock it off. Fortunately, Kyle was in the room and the Time Keepers were standing right beside me. It was a little more work on their part to make sure everything was documented accurately. I tried to keep my cool and not get worked up over this. Wasn’t in my control anyway so we just dealt with it and kept going. The same thing happened again at 3:25:10 so I took a rest break this time while they tried to figure out what may have been causing it. During that break I did some stretching and light foam rolling of my glutes, calves, and hip flexors. Some friends were there and I chatted with them during this time which was nice to keep my mind off of worrying about the treadmill issues. I got back on after a 3 minute 5 second break and put music on to hopefully zone out and not stress or think too much about these challenges. Good thing because at 3:39:47 the power circuit tripped and the treadmill lost power.
That’s the first time I lost my cool and started to get irritated with the situation. It seemed chaotic for a while but it only took 23 seconds to change over to the secondary treadmill and start running. This treadmill is also a Life Fitness treadmill but the Club Series, so pretty much had the same setup. I still preferred the other one because of the air flow and it was setup the way I wanted it. We transferred my gels and bottles to this treadmill and pointed the AC units and fans in my direction.
The rules state in the event of a mechanical failure the attempt may transfer to a second machine. Because there was no power to the treadmill or the front AC unit, we changed over to the other treadmill. There is a little more involved logistically when doing this. The entire 12 hours of the attempt has to be videoed and you must be able to see me in the video at all times while running. You could see the second treadmill in the mirror but it doesn’t show my entire body. So my wife had to video from her phone while we changed the position of the main video recorder. This way the GWR Review Team can see I’m following the rules and not making contact with the treadmill at any time.
Four hours in, we did a live feed which was fun and took my mind off the technical difficulties. >>> Click here to view <<< I took my fifth break at 4:38:46 (36.36 miles). We planned for the breaks about five minutes ahead of time to make sure nobody was using the bathrooms. It was pretty much the same routine every time I took a break. While I was in the bathroom I’d monitor my urine color to make sure I was staying hydrated. During this particular break I changed into a dry shirt and this time was wearing another sponsors shirt, SROSM. Wrapped up the break in 2-1/2 minutes and got back on the treadmill. Kyle was good about keeping me honest with nutrition and stayed on me to make sure I was fueling properly and often. As an ultra-runner he gets it, and knows how important it is not to fall behind on nutrition. I’m burning over 800 calories an hour and consuming between 300-400 calories per hour. I tried a few orange slices and managed to get down half a banana at one point, but that was all I could handle of solid food. I didn’t want to upset my stomach, so I took what I was comfortable with and stayed primarily with gels and liquids.
At about five hours my handheld towel that I was wiping sweat off fell on the ground to the side of the treadmill (between treadmill and wall). We were planning for another break and I asked that someone pick up my towel and refill my bottles. During this break as the hand towel was picked up from the floor the cord accidently got stepped on bending the prongs and pulling it out of the wall. We didn’t realize the treadmill was unplugged so when I got back on to start we weren’t sure what was happening as there was no power. To avoid wasting time we switched back to the original treadmill that I had started on. Total break time was 3 minutes 26 seconds. Again we had to reposition the camera, but became pretty good at it by now. I was actually happy moving back over to this treadmill because I had better air flow and had a better view of the running store.
I settled into a comfortable pace (7:30/mile) and concentrated on conserving energy. As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to reach the six-hour mark which was a mental victory for me. I knew if I could get to the halfway point, then I could break the remaining six hours into parts and make it seem more endurable. I pulled my visor down so it was covering my eyes which allowed me to check out for a while and rest my mind.
At 50 miles and 6:25:24 I decided to take another break to change into dry running shorts to prevent chafing. I kept the same style shorts, Salomon Twin Skin. Also during this break my Chiropractor, Dr. Stephen Clouthier, set up a table in the store to do neck and lumbar spine adjustments as well as help address any other issues my body may be dealing with. It was part of the plan we had discussed leading up to the event. Dr. Clouthier has been my Chiropractor this year, helping me stay injury free and feeling better than ever. I visit his practice, Alternative Health Center of The Woodlands, frequently and he was here to support me for this attempt. He’s also an endurance athlete, so he understands the demands on the body, especially something like this which is a constant repetitive motion. This break was just under five minutes. It didn’t bother me that the breaks were this long because I had been running strong and I wanted to make sure I could maintain an efficient and proper running gait.
I started back on the treadmill and complicated things with the Time Keepers when I asked Kyle to press pause so I could retie my shoelaces. When I changed shorts I tied my laces too tight on one shoe and it was bothering me. The treadmill had only been running for about 18 seconds but everything had to be documented. I started back up but a little slower this time at 7:48 pace (7.7 mph). It took me a couple miles to get comfortable and feel like I could run a little quicker pace of 7:36 (7.9 mph). The kiddos showed up at 6:57, so it was nice to have them visit for a while and see what daddy was up to. They were excited to see me and show me the posters they made. I started to plan another break as I was approaching an hour on the treadmill. My glutes and hamstring were beginning to tighten up, so I planned for Dr. Clouthier to do some Active Release Therapy during this break. I stopped at 7:24:24 (57 miles) for another 5-minute break. It helped what he was doing, but it took a while to get going again after stopping for this much time. At this point my knees were beginning to ache and I figured it probably wasn’t good to have cold air blowing on my lower body. We redirected both ducts from the front unit to point at my upper body and the two ducts from the AC unit behind me to point into the air.
My next break was at 8:23:31 (64 miles) and I changed into another dry shirt. I was looking forward to my visits with Dr. Clouthier as I was beginning to experience more discomfort and muscle fatigue. He massaged my quads with some type of soothing lotion and then I got back on the treadmill after a 3-1/2-minute break. I was experiencing the same thing (knee stiffness) as I did the last time I took a break. I found myself going through the same discomfort for a couple miles until I could get into a rhythm and pick up the pace to around 8 mph. I would focus on one hour at a time by breaking it up into two to three miles of running easy, two miles with music on completely zoned out, and then a couple miles of cruising until taking another break. Those miles in the middle I would pull down the visor again and space out. There is not a whole lot going on in my mind other than thinking about moving efficiently and just moving my feet to the beat of the music. If you noticed me touching my visor a bunch of times I was changing songs to something fast and sometimes would replay songs over and over if I liked it (should have had a larger playlist).
The next break was at 9:20 (71 miles) and pretty much the same thing as before. This is where I began to fade. I started walking and it was the first time I had slowed down to more than 8 minutes per mile. I hung around there for about 30 minutes realizing my body wasn’t feeling any better at a slower effort. I thought to myself it probably wouldn’t hurt much more to increase the speed so I had Kyle change it to a 7:30 pace. The crowd was increasing in numbers and it really helped to have that support, boosting my morale. Instead of taking a break at an hour, I resorted to walking for a couple minutes at mile 78 and not getting off the treadmill. I took this time to get in more nutrition and keep the legs moving.
I was able to stretch out my next break to 10:58:51 (82 miles) and decided to make a quick pit stop and change into dry shorts and get a new shirt. Right before this break, I totally missed my mouth with a gel and it was all over my shirt. I had no idea until Dana Lyons, time keeper, pointed it out. By now the store was full of people and there was a lot of energy on display. The crowd was getting into it and there was some ear piercing whistling happening from a couple rowdy ones. Even some shirts came off since I didn’t have one on. It was a lot of fun and I needed this energy in a big way. I didn’t realize it until I put the new shirt on that my nipples were raw. I had Band-Aids on before but they came off at some point and I was bleeding. Ouch! I had 4.5 miles to go to break the current record (86.49 miles). I wanted to get there sooner than later, so I had the speed set 7:19 (8.2 mph) until I broke it at 11:33:43. >>Video of final minutes<< I waited until mile 87 and then stopped for a short break so I could join the crowd to celebrate. There was a group of probably 20 kids at the front watching and then maybe 100 or more of my friends and visitors in the store cheering. I wasn’t in much of a hurry to get back on, but I did to finish the remaining 20 minutes. We talked about what it would take to get to 90 miles. I would have had to run three miles at a sub-7 pace and I wasn’t willing to go there and didn’t want to ignore the crowd. I would have had to go back to the visor covering my face and enter a very dark place to do it. I was content at a steady effort until the finish where I ended up at 89.56 miles. *corrected total miles (see below for explanation)
Below are splits and time for completing various distances:
Overall pace without breaks: 7:38 min/ mile (Total breaks = 37:13 minutes)
Marathon: 3:22:42 (7:44 pace including breaks)
50 km: 3:59:34 (7:43 pace including breaks)
50 miles: 6:25:24 (7:42 pace including breaks)
100 km: 8:09:00 (7:52 pace including breaks)
86.50 miles: 11:33:43 (8:01 pace including breaks)
Thank you everyone for making this attempt one for the record books. I’ll never forget this day and it means the world to me to have so many friends around to share this experience with. I’m so grateful and blessed to be surrounded by amazing people and a wonderful athletic community that comes together to support our athletic events and local athletes. A special thank you to Luke’s Locker and their amazing staff for hosting the event and allowing us to be in your way during normal business hours.
A very special thank you to Kyle Rodemacher and his wife Maria Bergh for their guidance and doing a huge part of the planning. Also thank you to my incredible wife Stefanie Delzer for helping us organize for the event and allowing me to focus on the running which was the easy part of this whole thing. Also thank you Steve Hardy for overseeing the video and photo requirements for the attempt, and to his genius wife Ana Hardy for her support and arranging donations of food and beverages for the volunteers.
Thanks again to all my Sponsors and Contributors towards the Event
–Alternative Health Center of The Woodlands –Sterling Ridge Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine –Klean Athlete –Huma Gel –DesertAire Portable LLC, –Alkaline Water Corp –Hoka One One for Clayton’s –Exercise Houston –Starbucks –Potbelly –Corner Bakery –Finish Strong Coaching –Lukes Locker
Klean Athlete Article
(*while reviewing Time Keeper logs and pictures of the Treadmill during the second break we realized .29 miles did not get logged. The actual distance of the treadmill was 8.29 miles and the TM speed during this set was 8.3 mph. We also had a typo with distance logged during the second TM malfunction and corrected the distance from .44 to .34 miles)