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6 Tips for 6 Hours - or Longer!I
My husband and I direct several fixed-time races: everybody runs for the same amount of time, and whoever gets the most miles in that time wins.
We get a lot of questions about how it works, from curious people, and from nervous first-timers: Can you walk? (Yes) Can you rest? (Yes) Do you have to keep going the whole time? (No, at most races you can do as little as 1 lap.)
But when an athlete who was registered for his first fixed-time race asked for my advice on how to do it, I decided to ask others for their take. After all, what works for me might not work for him. Here's what the experts all agree on:
1) Have fun! "Enjoy every step, the good food, the company, the PR! This is your first time, so make sure you enjoy it!" (Rachel A.) "Take time to make new friends on the course." (George S.)
2) Keep enjoying it! "If you hit the "This Sucks" point, add calories and slow down until you can run happy again" (Sherry M.) "Make sure you start taking in calories early. The bonk is real and calories are a necessity in an event this length." (Jason H.)
3) Keep it slow! "Start slower than you think you need to, then stay slower" (Regina S.) "How competitively you start will depend on average weekly mileage ('mpw') and the length of your typical long run. Someone running 50-60 mpw can be more aggressive than someone running 30 mpw, but an appropriate pace will still feel so much slower than what you're used to." (George S.)
4) Keep moving! Don't dawdle at the aid station; if you want something and it's not ready yet, ask them to save it for you until you come past on your next loop. "Don't sit down, it's a trap!" (Scott H.) Consider scheduling breaks, such as after milestones like a Half Marathon, at the Marathon point, etc, but "no more than 5-10 minutes because longer might signal to the body that it's done for the day." (Jason H.) Especially don't sit on a low chair that might be hard to get out of.
5) Stick to your plan! "Have a run/walk plan from the start. ... There's temptation to go out too fast because the people around you are." (Bill B.) "If you run until you *have* to walk, the last few hours may turn into a death march (and that doesn't sound fun, does it?)" (Jason H.)
6) Kick it into gear! "During the last hour, screw happiness and run like hell - time is running out!" (Sherry M)
Any of the races in our Hula Loop 6-Hour series would be a great introduction to fixed time racing. Not only are they fun and have a great aid station for lots of yummy calories, but you'll meet a lot of great people who can give you good advice just like this!