- Trisha Ignatowski, a 26-year-old pediatric occupational therapist in New York City, ran a 1-mile loop 144 times in 48 hours.
- Ultra-endurance runs with various distance and time cut-offs are increasingly popular.
- The events are meant to challenge people physically and mentally, but they’re also supposed to be fun.
- View INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
While you were sleeping one Friday night in May, Trisha Ignatowski was running around a 1-mile (mostly) paved loop in Augusta, New Jersey. She’d been at it since 9 a.m. that morning and continued until 9 a.m. Sunday morning.
She slept only a half-hour each night, otherwise resisting the urge to crawl into her track-side tent to nap at every mile. “That was the hardest part,” the 26-year-old pediatric occupational therapist in New York City told INSIDER of the sleep-deprivation.
Ignatowski stayed fuelled on whatever the on-site kitchen could cook up: burgers, pizza, cookies, watermelon, pancakes, and more pancakes. “I ate at least 20 pancakes during the race,” she said.
In all, Ignatowski ran 144 miles – more than double the distance she’d ever run in a single weekend, about triple the distance she’d ever completed in a single race, and almost exactly the distance of five and a half marathons. In the end, she placed fourth among women in the NJ Trail Series event, which is called “3 Days at the Fair.”
Most Americans don’t meet the government’s recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week, and yet a growing cohort of people like Ignatowski seems to be picking up their slack. The number of ultramarathons, or races longer than a marathon, grew about 1,000% in 10 years, The Guardian reported in 2018.
Then there are races like “3 Days at the Fair,” which, unlike most mainstream running races, isn’t about running a certain distance in as short amount of time as possible, but rather about running as far as possible in a given amount of time.
And for Ignatowski, at least, it was fun – especially because of her fellow runners. When the participants’ supporters were sleeping on the sidelines, they were running or walking together, sharing food and water, and swapping stories. “By the end you’re all friends,” she said. “It’s a huge sense of family.”
Ignatowski also said she likes ultra endurance challenges to see what her body can handle. Her race-day strategy, as suggested by her coach, was to walk before she felt that she needed to. In practice, that meant that by mile 40, she power-walked a mile every half hour. The idea was to “give my muscles and legs a break – that definitely helps in the long run,” she said. “If you wait until you have to walk, mentally, it’s hard to start running again.”
The strategy worked. “I was able to go up the stairs the next day,” she said, though a few weeks later, her leg muscles were still fatiguing more quickly than usual when running.
Once fully recovered, Ignatowski sees more 50- and 100-mile races in her future. “I could be out drinking every weekend,” she said, but instead she’s often up at 5 a.m. on Saturday mornings to run with friends. She also sees a physical therapist and gets massages regulalry to stay healthy.
Ignatowski doesn’t expect everyone to follow in her footsteps, but she does encourage them to move.Motivate yourself by listening to a podcast or music, running with a friend, or simply treasuring the time to be alone with your thoughts, she suggested.
“Go out there and have fun with it,” she said. “You don’t need to be the fastest person. Your job is just to move forward, whether it’s mile or a million miles.”
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