Running any type of race can potentially be challenging and intimidating; from hometown 5ks to city-based marathons, different events pose different obstacles (sometimes, quite literally), and each will require a specific type of training to increase your chances of success.
There are some, however, who push this notion to its limit, entering races both obscure and, potentially, unfathomably difficult. These events are among the craziest feats in aerobic athletics, and they are intended for only those daring enough to attempt them.
If you feel that you are fit (and brave) enough to take such a leap, here are several races to consider in the future.
Perhaps the most obscure and challenging race in the world, the Self-Transcendence Race has to be experienced to be believed. The race, which is literally 3,100 miles in length, takes place over a period of two months on a single block in Queens, New York. That means runners will have to circle the block over 5,000 times to hit the total distance. This race is described as more of a mental ordeal than a physical one, with “self-transcendence,” or complete mental equilibrium and accomplishment, serving as the ultimate goal.
Located in Wartburg, Tennessee, the Barkley Marathons have been described as “five loops of death.” The 100+ mile long course is comprised of over 120,000 feet of climbing and descending, with one loop equalling about the distance of a standard marathon. To make matters worse, runners must complete the race in under 60 hours to be considered an official finisher; only one person finished in 2017!
When contemplating ideal locations for a multi day race, the Sahara Desert likely ranks in the bottom five possibilities; yet, this has not stopped the organizers of the Marathon des Sables, a 156-mile race through the desert that is often regarded as the toughest foot race in the world. Still, the race remains one of the most popular in the ultramarathon community, and its attendance has shockingly increased since its 1986 inception. That said, perhaps now is the best time to participate.
Logging can be crucial to any fitness-based regimen, but it is arguably the most applicable to distance running. From mileage to pace, there is an almost countless amount of metrics that a distance runner may want to track during a training cycle; this not only helps them remain on track in the foreground, it can also serve as a guide for future training cycles based on what was successful.
Today, there are numerous ways to log runs online and through mobile devices. Here are a few quick, effective logging resources.
Strava has grown into one of the most popular fitness apps in the world, offering easy, yet immersive logging features to a variety of aerobic athletes. The app is perhaps most useful for running — especially from a community standpoint. Runners are able to connect with one another as they stack up times for established routes, share personal bests, and generally stay in touch with their training progress. Strava is a great resource for teams, as it is efficient in keeping large groups of athletes connected.
Though not as socially intuitive as Strava, RunningAhead represents a barebones, but comfortable and personalized approach to the online logging process. The site makes logging easy, allowing users to save routes and workouts and apply them to a customizable home menu, which itself features widgets focused on everything from weekly mileage to local weather. The site currently does not have a fully functional mobile app, but it remains a strong and simplistic choice for runners looking to keep themselves in tune with their training.
Running2Win could be interpreted as an effective mesh of Strava and RunningAhead; it ably toes a line between in-depth communal interaction and simplified user interface. The site features areas dedicated to team building and general community functions, giving users quick access to daily runs of their teammates and other cohorts. Users are able to choose between a basic account and a premium upgrade, both offering a different range of features. The site also allows potential new users to test its basic features via a demo account.
Are you a runner looking for ways to build foot muscle strength and guard against injury? Consider making the switch to minimalist shoes.
Unlike traditional footwear, which can restrict the movement of key muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments, minimalist shoes are designed to recreate the experience of natural barefoot movement while protecting your feet from any hazards on the ground. A recent study indicates these shoes can help runners build foot muscle strength to the same degree as regular exercise.
Minimalist shoes have soft soles, allowing you to feel the ground conditions more accurately with your feet. They also let your toes move to a much greater degree than most running shoes do. Over time, this may boost your stability when running thanks to a widened platform.
Additionally, these shoes have a low heel to toe drop, which is used to describe the distance between the heel and the toe. This helps prevent injuries related to heel striking and is one of the things all runners should look for in their footwear.
That said, not all minimalist shoes are the same. While you may be used to wearing supportive sneakers for running, they should be worn less frequently. Choosing the right minimalist or barefoot shoes for your goals requires keeping certain factors in mind and knowing your own running style. These tips will help.
Determine Where You Run Most
Different types of minimalist footwear are ideal for different types of running. Decide how and where you typically run when considering your options. For instance, if you run on off-road trails, you need shoes that have strong traction. Look for soles with grips. On the other hand, if you tend to run on roads or a treadmill, it’s best to find something with a smoother sole and a more fashionable appearance.
Again, running in minimalist shoes is supposed to mimic the experience of running barefoot. That’s why you should prepare to make the switch by starting to run barefoot some of the time.
Don’t try to completely switch to barefoot running, though. Odds are very good you won’t be comfortable (or safe) doing so. However, you may consider beginning the transition by walking barefoot. As you get more comfortable with barefoot walking, you can bring your sneakers with you when running, trying to go half a mile or so before putting them on.
Gradually work your way up to running longer distances in your bare feet. This helps you prepare for the differences you’ll notice between traditional and minimalist footwear.
Try Different Styles
Remember, when choosing minimalist shoes, you want to pick those which are designed for your style of running. You wouldn’t run in even your most comfortable sandals, would you? Make sure to research what shoe type fits your running style and needs best.
That’s not to say those are the only ones you should buy. There are also minimalist shoes that can be worn when walking around town, the house, or even at work in some cases. Consider buying a few pairs so you can wear them in different situations. The more you wear minimalist shoes, the more you’ll benefit.
Runners who’ve made the switch often find these types of shoes improve their gait, strengthen their muscles, and help them avoid injuries. This makes sense when you consider people have been running barefoot for most of human history. If strengthening muscle and remaining injury-free appeals to you, use these tips to choose the perfect minimalist footwear.
About Allen Curreri
Dr. Allen Curreri is a pharmaceutical professional, a researcher in clinical decision making, and a consultant. But first and foremost, Allen is a community member.
Allen Curreri is proud to call Atlanta, Georgia home for the past two decades. He cares deeply about his hometown, and after seeing how much his city gave to him as a young man, Allen is dedicated to giving back tenfold to the community he loves.
Allen considers it a personal responsibility and a privilege to serve his community in every way he can. Plus, Allen knows how to have fun getting his hands dirty for a good cause! As a family man himself, he is particularly drawn to the work of United Way, where he has been a loyal volunteer for over fifteen years, and counting. With United Way, Allen focuses on creating self-sustaining progress and strong communities. The mission? Filling the most vital gaps and providing for the most fundamental unmet needs: health, income, and education.
A long-time running and marathon enthusiast, you can often find Allen on the paths and tracks around Atlanta training for his next challenge. Nothing is more satisfying than taking care of yourself while working for others, and Allen Curreri is a great believer in getting out on the streets and running for a good cause in fundraisers and charity marathons.
Allen’s Current Project
All across America, thousands of students are denied the federal student aid they need to fund their dreams of a college education. Why? A one-time mistake. Few people know that teens with one-time drug offenses on their record are made ineligible for student loans or work study, even if they never re-offend again.
The kids affected the most are often underserved, underprivileged, and lacking support systems — kids who already fought every odd to get a quality education. Kids who’s dreams are crushed without the federal support they need to tackle tuition.
These kids aren’t looking for a handout, just an education. Allen Curreri’s mission is to give them a fighting chance to reach their goals. He is currently working to build an organization that will offer scholarships to youth with one-time drug offenses. Those who pass the rigorous essay and interview process will live out their dreams of attending college, right there at home in Atlanta, GA, where they’ll enrich the local community and economy.
Allen is currently seeking support and partnerships of all kinds to turn his vision — and the vision of hundreds of students — into reality.
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Allen Curreri studied pre-pharmaceutical work as an undergraduate and soon tailored his focus to the business side of the medical industry. In 2003 he entered the College of Business Administration at Georgia Southern University. As he worked toward his Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) Allen balanced his studies with an entry position in medical sales. One year later, he joined GE Healthcare as an ultrasound equipment sales professional.
For the next eight years Allen worked with GE Healthcare, spending much of his time inside hospitals and ERs and cultivating the wealth of medical industry experience that guides his work to this day. When he left GE Healthcare in 2012 he sought out a role in pharmaceutical sales. He accepted a position as Director of National Sales at Prestige Medical Solutions Limited, and would eventually work his way up to Chief Operations Officer of Prestige.
Allen’s experience in pharmaceutical sales has allowed him to travel around the world and to network within diverse pools of professionals at industry conferences. A resident of Atlanta, Georgia, Allen has traveled everywhere from parts of the U.S. and Canada to England, France, South Korea, Singapore and Abu Dhabi. He attends conferences to track the expansion of different institutions or pharmaceutical companies; over the years he has observed some of the largest and most influential conferences attended by pharmacists, technicians, and Congressional health care policy writers.