Living Well – Training for an impossible event

Wayne Little's monthly column training and how to stay motivated.

Having a goal to each season is important to stay motivated. You’ll find most athletes who strive for fitness are constantly changing their goals. Obviously as one goal is achieved, most will choose either a harder goal, or something completely different.

Last year Vicky Trill had a huge goal of completing the Rattlesnake Island swim: a 7km open water swim across Okanagan Lake and back. This involved countless hours of training in the pool and in open water. This was a great goal to have and she completed it. Kudos to her.

Over a decade ago, my wife and I joined a few of her family members and created a relay team to complete the Canadian Death Race in Grande Cache. This is a 125km ultra marathon in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. Each person basically ran a 25km Leg with varying difficulties to complete the 125km in under 24 hours. Before I signed up, I didn’t even know ultra marathons existed, never mind what they were. An ultra marathon is any running event that is 50km or longer.

You can run the Death Race in a relay team of five people, which is the most popular method.  Or you can run it solo. So that’s all by yourself, running for 125km in under 24 hours. You run up and over three mountains, with 17,000 feet of elevation change. When I was “training” for the event, I was not a runner. I signed up for the event to join the family as it was something my wife wanted to do. During training and during the race I could not understand how anyone could do the event solo. I thought those people  running solo were like gods, or something immortal. I just didn’t “get it”.

I completed my Leg of “only” 27km that day. My portion was Leg 2, it was up and over two mountain summits and back to Grande Cache, and considered the most technical leg of the race. I limped for weeks afterwards from the pain in my quads and knees. I finished though, and passed the “coin” to the next family member who started Leg 3. My wife finished Leg 5 of the race in the dark, with a headlamp, on narrow little bush trails in under 24 hours. We completed the event. It was awesome.

When I moved back to Ashcroft eight years ago, I started running a bit to lose weight. After running a few 10k’s, a few marathons, and MANY triathlons including Ironman I have realized that those people who were running solo beside me at the Death Race weren’t immortal. They simply knew how to train for a seemingly impossible event. Over the last few years, I’ve learned that as well.

So I’ve decided to go back to Grande Cache and complete the Death Race solo. On Aug 2, I will run the Canadian Death Race for 125 kms in under 24 hours. How will this happen? I’ll have to train, and that training began last Fall. By running approximately 100kms per week, I’ll run uphills, I’ll run downhills, I’ll run offroad, onroad and on trails. I’ll run fast some days, and I’ll run slow some days. Heck, I’ll even do some short “little” marathons for training.

Wayne Little