This 27-Year-Old Woman Just Broke the World Record for Consecutive Days Running a Marathon
Photo credit: Courtesy of Alyssa Clark
From men's health
When COVID-19 started devastating Italy earlier this year, ultramarathon runner Alyssa Clark admitted that the ban on running or walking outside was a distant thought.
However, on March 9, 2020, everything changed.
"The Italian government has taken swift and necessary measures to protect the rest of the country and shut down the country," said the 27-year-old, who is originally from Bennington, Vermont, but was currently living in Italy. “We could no longer travel, run and run freely, but were limited to our homes and could only travel to and from work, the grocery store or the hospital. We had to carry papers with us to justify our movements and [we] could and were often stopped by the police. "
Then Clark received notifications that the races she had registered for this spring and summer were all canceled.
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"I felt very ready for the competition, so I needed something to test the fitness that I had developed," she said. “I shared a few ideas with my trainer, including the Quarantine Backyard Ultra, a 24-hour treadmill run, and a 48-hour treadmill run. Something out of the blue I said to my husband: What do you think about me when I run a marathon every day until we can run outside? "
On March 30, Clark's goal was set and she started running daily marathons the next day.
"We should have some restrictions lifted [in Italy] on April 14th, so I thought I'd do about fifteen marathons," she said. “When it was extended until May 1st, the game was open. ... To be honest, the treadmill has many advantages. In many ways, it is easier to run indoors. The temperature is regulated, there is no wind or elements to consider, there is no need to take water or food with you and there is a bathroom available at all times. "
She completed 30 treadmill marathons before restrictions slowly lifted across Italy. At that point, Clark announced that she would be chasing the world record on most consecutive days of a marathon, despite the fact that she and her husband would soon be returning to the United States.
Photo credit: Chuan Napolitano
On one of her first runs outside, the ultra runner met one of her toughest days, both physically and mentally, which led to her slowest marathon time to date - 4:43.
"There happened to be a dust storm that blew away the northern part of Africa and hit us," she said. "It was about 85-90 degrees outside and it felt like I was breathing through a cheesecloth. We also lived in a very hilly area in Italy, so the hills felt even harder in the weather and on tired legs. I only remember feeling every mile taking an hour to finish, and I was very exhausted from the effort. "
On the day of No. 57 marathon, Clark and her husband Navy Lt. Codi Clark made her several-day move from Naples, Italy, to her next place of work in Florida, where he stopped in Germany. Virginia Beach, Virginia; and Charleston, South Carolina, on the way. Travel logistics alone threatened to stand in the way of Clark's challenge - but she persisted and completed her marathons during this time.
"The most difficult aspect of the transition was sleep deprivation and the overall fatigue of traveling," she said. "We didn't arrive in Germany until 10 p.m. and had to be back at the terminal at 9:30 a.m., otherwise we would risk not being admitted to our flight." Codi was a soldier and ran to the only open place that was open at that time, a gas station to get some frozen food, and I didn't go to bed until around 11:00 p.m. The plan was to start at 2:30 a.m. to make sure I finished the marathon on time, but I woke up at 12:45 a.m. and decided I would start.
“It was very strange to run a marathon around an air force base in Germany at one in the morning, but it's really a memory that I'll never forget. I even had a local Air Force runner with me at 4:15 a.m. which was incredible to have the company and was so much appreciated. "
After landing in Virginia, Clark and her husband drove the rest of the way to Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City Beach, Florida, where the ultramarathon runner had enough time to run marathons. She covered 26.2 miles in Virginia Beach, Virginia; twice in Charleston, South Carolina; and once in Neptune Beach, Florida before you arrive in Panama City Beach.
And in Charleston, Clark surpassed the unofficial world record for women on consecutive days with a marathon distance of 61 days. To celebrate the milestone, her husband called her family through Zoom to finish the marathon, and a friend ended up spraying a bottle of champagne.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Alyssa Clark
"I felt like I was absolutely flying all day, and it was a pretty fast marathon too," she said. "I had some friends on the road [from previous military stations], so I had someone who ran or cycled a few miles with me. I've only been to Charleston once, so it was incredibly exciting to see a new and beautiful place. "
Clark, who runs her marathons between 9:20 and 9:40 per mile, said that it is a certain joy to "just go out to explore", although she sometimes sets 26.2 for a particular route, though their landscape changes, their routine remains the same no matter where it is.
"One of the most important parts is to line up my clothes the night before and make sure my running backpack is ready for the morning," she said, adding that she likes to make it as easy as possible to get out of the door in the morning. "I filled my water bottles, loaded my food in my pockets and loaded all my watches and headphones."
Clark usually wears a tank top when running and switches between four different shorts. After getting dressed, she brushes her teeth, goes to the toilet, puts on sunscreen, and takes imodium. "Maybe TMI, but runners are gross," she joked.
Then it's time for a quick breakfast - usually two rice cakes with peanut butter, banana, cinnamon, and sea salt - before applying Amp PR Lotion, a muscle primer and recovery lotion that also helps with electrolyte balance.
Clark then puts on her compression calf sleeves (she's a big XOSkin fan) and shoes. She also has two watches with her to make sure that her information is correct so she doesn't risk losing the information.
"[All] it usually takes about 45 minutes before I get out of the door," said Clark, who also has two watches with him to make sure their dates are correct, so she doesn't risk losing the information. “I split the marathon into parts and try to celebrate every part of it. I also try not to look at my watch for the first two hours to focus on enjoying my time and not being upset when the miles are not moving as quickly as possible. "
Clark has remained motivated by her own inner persistence and support from around the world.
"I never really gave myself a chance," she said. “I know every day that I will go out and continue working until the marathon is over. I am very motivated when I hear that others are inspired by my marathons. That motivated me incredibly to keep going, and is the extra little voice that helps me when I'm tired or having a hard day. "
At the time of publication, Clark had passed 85 consecutive days after running a marathon - and she is aiming for 100. It is an impressive achievement in itself, but adds a global pandemic and an international step, and it is a personalized inspiration.
As she shares on every Instagram post with which the runner has cataloged her trip: “One day after the other. One hour at a time. One minute after the other. One step at a time. We continue to move forward. "
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