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Ultra Run Commute – Things I learned running 40 miles in one day to get to work.

After each race I write down what went right, wrong, and what I could have done differently.  I’ve been doing a 20-24 mile run to work for several years now.  Mileage will vary depending on the different paths I take.  For about 8 years I’ve thought to myself, would it be possible to run both directions, both to and home from work?  The shortest distance I could make the route was 20 miles, so it would be around 40 miles round trip.  That would be about 6-7 hours of running, broken up over 2 parts of the day.  The terrain is mostly flat, and somewhat downhill heading toward the city.  Well, I pulled it off…  Here was some of the things I learned doing my ultra run commute.



What went right

  • FOOD
    • I had stomach issues my last 50K race.  Some of that I attributed to excessive sugar intake during the race.  I went this time with granola bars, cashews, 1 GU, and Vitargo as my drink.  Adding some REAL food vs using energy gels seemed to agree more with my stomach.
  • Heart Rate
    • Using an alarm when your heart rate is too high was critical.  I’ved turned on the HR alarm in the past, but I knew if I wanted to make it home alive, and in a reasonable time, I had to be conservative.  I stayed at my Maffetone heart rate for both directions of the run, for the most part, with only allow +10 beats over my number (145 for me, I allowed a max of 155 since I treated it like a race).  I never felt fatigued or felt like I was running past my abilities.
  • Constant status checking
    • I’ve learned that you need to run YOUR RACE for the long events.  The last event I did I got swept up trying to run somebody else’s race.  I wasn’t taking an inventory of my own situation.  Every few minutes you need to run through a checklist: “Am I going to fast?”, “Am I eating enough”. “Am I taking these hills too hard”.  If you don’t pay attention you could end up where you’ve depleted your body and run past your abilities.  I kept taking a mental inventory because I knew if I didn’t I would pay for it on the way home.

What went wrong

  • Carry the essentials
    • I carried way too much equipment/food on my way to work.  If I had to do something like this again I would have brought everything to work the day before that I needed for the return trip.   I made sure I only had essentials for heading home.  Maybe it was the idea of not having to carry so much stuff, but I felt so much faster/lighter that it made the run back seem easier.
  • You get by with a little help from… complete strangers.
    • I was half way home when this guy runs by me and  says, “Good job man, keep it up”.  It was enough for me to strike up a conversation with him and ask if it was OK to run with him.  I know this is really a positive, but I don’t understand why I need others to help me run faster.  I am glad he came along because without him I NEVER would have run a negative split heading home.  I’m just wondering what do I need to unlock the ability myself, not relying on someone else.  I can’t always have a pacer at the right time and need that strength to come from within.

What I would do differently

  • Carry music for the last 10% of the race.  I gave up music years ago, but I do think it has a place for the end of a race.  When the pain is starting to set in and you need a distraction.  It also would have been something to look forward to if I had said, “At mile X I get to listen to music.”  As long as this doesn’t interfere with doing your inventory of your body to make sure everything is still OK.
  • I wouldn’t change a whole lot with this day.  I was happy with the time, I was happy with my pace.  I think I really got lucky running into that guy who ran with me for several miles.  I still can’t believe I ran a faster time heading home…  This is something I could see myself doing once a year, as long as I’m still working at the same place in the city.

Run 1 – 2:59:24(watch rebooted and I lost some data)

Run 2 – 2:58:58


Patrick Durante - Crossing the finish line the family drew.
Crossing the finish line the family drew.


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