Wait, what happened?
On March 8th 2015 in the heart of Manhattan I broke an official Guinness World Record “Greatest distance run on a treadmill in 12 hours”.
In just 5 years I went from finishing my first ever running race (along with turning to raw vegan nutrition style) to covering over 80 miles in 12 hours during my record run.
I’m glad to see that my lifestyle choices proved to be not only great for my health and well-being, but also allowed me to quickly develop enough strength and endurance to be competitive in some of the toughest running events that exist. Until March 8th the Guinness World Record was 79.6 miles (set in Switzerland on December 19th 2014), and before then for almost one year the record belonged to Chris Solarz (NJ, USA).
Why did I do it?
In the modern society it is very easy to get lost in a huge volume of conflicting information regarding optimal nutrition and physical training. Any search for truth can turn into an endless journey of looking at the various theoretical arguments by different camps, all pursuing their commercial interests, and seemingly backed up by some studies and data. Doctors say one thing, healers and yogis – the other, and common sense – third. This confusion leads to the fact that humans are probably the only creatures in nature that don’t know what is their optimal source of food.
In my opinion, given such overwhelming volume of conflicting data around us, our own real-life experience is probably the most reliable source of information. And in order to get this first-hand experience, sometimes we should become open enough to rethink some dogmas and stereotypes that are deeply ingrained in the society, and rely more on our common sense.
This is why instead of engaging in the fruitless arguments and discussing conflicting theories, I decided to show on my own PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE that after several years of being on well-balanced raw vegan regimen with regular exercise, it is possible to not just have a perfect health (which is already big news for many), but also, if desired, it is possible to turn into a quite serious athlete.
I think that my athletic results represent a solid real-life demonstration of effectiveness and power of balanced raw vegan regimen. I believe that each human body has a tremendous potential for self-healing and physical power, which can be quite easily unlocked. Although people would probably never stop asking me where do I get my protein…
So, after my wife Veronica accidentally found out about this Guinness Record, we both thought “It’s doable, let’s give it a shot!”.
My running specialty is mountain trails, so flat surfaces present a bit of extra challenge for me since this is not how I normally train. However, running for 12 hours is not a huge deal for me – I’ve ran many times for over 20 hours straight in races (and even once in training). The main challenge on March 8th was to run with high enough speed in order to break the record.
Training: I couldn’t resist going to the mountains, so up until three weeks before the event I was still training mainly on trails with my team RawTrail. Then I did a solid 100-mile week on the treadmill two weeks before the event. The longest day was about 35 miles, and this was it. I trained on the treadmill only for one week. The rest of the time I was outside even though there was a lot of snow here in New York.
In addition to running, in order to officially break existing record, Guinness requires thorough documentation of preparation and running event itself. This includes paperwork on treadmill calibration (including reserve treadmill), logbooks and written statements filled out by several official witnesses, keeping a “master logbook” with all mile splits and breaks, video recording of the entire event, and so forth. Veronica helped me prepare for the event, and my good friend Belorussian ultra-runner Elena Makovskaya assumed the burden of keeping up with most logistics during the run. You can find Elena’s detailed report at the end of this post.
Our event took place at the awesome sports medicine and physical therapy center “NYSportsMed”, right in the middle of Manhattan (Columbus Circle). I was running in front of a large window and views were great!
Event was open to the public (it is another Guinness requirement), and by the end of the day we had a nice crowd of reporters, friends, and general public interested in this record attempt. Also, the whole day we had a live video stream of the event online.
With Veronica’s help, Elena took care of the logistics during my run, and at the same time she found time to read to me the comments posted on our live video stream.
It was great to feel support during my entire run, my parents and many friends were watching live streaming for all 12 hours.
But not everything went smoothly. I knew that running for 12 hours on flat surface would not be easy for me, especially with the speed that is required to break the record.
From my limited time spent training on the treadmill, I understood that it’s different from regular running outside. After a couple of hours the brain gets confused because your legs are moving but the scenery doesn’t change. It’s a very different kind of situation—you have to keep your mind sharp the whole time. Many times in road racing, or any kind of ultra racing, it’s a very good thing mentally to just zone out and run on autopilot. The problem here is that you cannot do that. Once you turn the autopilot on, something bad might happen: you will stop, or fall, or slide off the treadmill, etc.
You can’t distract yourself; you have to stare at the numbers and can’t escape the thinking process of “I have another 10 hours to go; I have another nine hours to go”. The whole time you can’t escape from it. Mentally, it’s pretty tough.
Fatigue started to settle after first 50K of running. Pain and fatigue are inevitable in this sport. But we can control our reaction to this fatigue, control our consciousness. It helps to know your own body and to feel its needs and condition at all time during the run. After mile 45 I started to feel cramping, so I had to slow down and hydrate a bit more. The issue was solved.
After 50 miles I was running with music in my headphones. It was great to distract myself a little from the pain in my muscles and from annoying sound of the treadmill. Until the last 5 minutes I wasn’t 100% sure that we’ll break the record. From my own experience I know that anything can happen during these ultra-distance runs.
All 12 hours I spent on the treadmill, without stopping it or stepping off. I only slowed it down a few times to stretch or change the shoes, but it was spinning all 12 hours non-stop.When I saw “80” on the treadmill and realized that we got the record, I experienced an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment and self-actualization. We set a rather ambitious goal, and successfully delivered the result.
To those people who’re more familiar with the world of ultra-running, covering 80.5 miles in 12 hours might seem like not such an outstanding feat. And they would be right. On the road and on the track the 12-hour running records are more impressive than my result. There is also some information that people have been running over 80 miles on the treadmills in the past. However, it is still the truth that never before the Guinness World Records officially acknowledged a 12-hour treadmill run of over 80 miles.
I made a picture of my bare feet right after this run, to show some gruesome reality of hard ultra-running efforts, but decided that photo of my blisters and damaged nails might be too disturbing to some people. So I hope that you still get the idea. It was quite painful experience.
Bananas (10-12, blended with water)
Oranges (30-40, juiced)
Coconut water (1/2 lb)
Raw nut butters “Artisana”
I’ll be racing in the Hardrock 100 this July (it’s that race with 68,000 feet of elevation change). 1,367 pre-qualified athletes were competing for 152 spots, and only with one ticket in the hat somehow I got in. I’ll join Kilian, Anton, Iker, Karl, and other world-class mountain goats in this little stroll through San Juan mountains in Colorado.
Here are few facts about the race: “To complete the Hardrock Hundred demands that an athlete run elevation gains comparable to running from sea level to the top of Mt. Everest and back at an average elevation of more than 2 miles above sea level. This running includes going over 12,000 ft. above sea level thirteen times, above 13,000 feet an additional seven times and summitting one of Colorado’s famed “14er’s”, Handies Peak, 14,048 feet above sea level”.
I couldn’t have done it alone.
MANY THANKS FOR MAKING THIS RECORD HAPPEN:
Svetlana, Victor, Dmitry, and Veronica Mikhaylove
Vyacheslav Timoshenko and Sports Club «Slava»
Olga, Gennady, Artem, and Alexandr Kuznetsov
I owe this record mainly to Veronica Mikhaylove and Elena Makovskaya. In order to get recognized by the Guinness World Records, there are many rules that had to be followed throughout the event. While Veronica helped me with the paperwork before and after the event, Elena has put in a huge effort into making the record happen on the day of the event, taking good care of all logistics. Just to run is not enough to get the record, we needed to document many aspects of preparation and conducting the event, such as presence of several official witnesses, videotaping of the entire run, maintaining a thorough log book with all mile splits and rest breaks, and so forth.
Many times in the past Elena was helping me with pacing and race-day logistics, so she knew very well what my body and my brain need in order to keep running strong for many hours.
Here is Elena’s report from the event:
I first met Denis few years ago on a trail run in Bear Mt, NY. We quickly discovered that besides running and speaking the same language, we had a lot more things in common, such as: coming to the States at adult age with no support, graduating from a US university, working in the same industry (Finance), we both lived in North Jersey only few miles from each other as we both were very determined to achieve success in every aspect of our lives, running included. We really did speak the same language on many levels. I also got a sense that Denis is fully invested into anything he does or promotes and one of the most passionate people I have ever met. He is a true man of actions and not just words, which shows in his running results as well as how much following he has on his raw vegan and fruitarian life style. So, after that run, we stayed in touch, participated in the same races, training runs and just had lots of fun. Denis and me had a lot of epic adventured together. I crewed and paced him in MMT100, where he placed 2nd and I got a title of a “professional juicer” after juicing about 80 oranges for him with an electric juicer in the middle of deep VA forests. I also crewed and paced him in another difficult race Virgil Crest 100, where he won with a course record in very adverse weather conditions. So, after he called me one Feb evening saying he was going to try and break Guinness World Record for a 12hr treadmill run and asking for my help, I did not hesitate and immediately said “yes”. I was a bit surprised though as to why treadmill as I have known him as more of a mountain runner who rarely even runs on flat surfaces, let alone treadmill. But, like I said before, he was determined and this is what I love best about this guy: if he really wants something, he will go all out and get it. So, I signed up for the challenge knowing that will be another fun day. Not quite knowing HOW MUCH WORK that day will bring… Good thing I am really good at multitasking! On day of the attempt, March 8 (which is also a big Russian Holiday – Woman’s Day), I got up at 5am, drove to the city and picked up Denis from his place to bring us to the NYSportsmed location, right on Columbus Circle. We had an hour to setup, put 2 cameras into place take few pictures and go over some paperwork needed for Guinness. First 4 witnesses arrived, I explained to them what they needed to fill out and watch for and exactly at 8am the bell ran and Denis started. We picked initial 7 mph speed thinking that with this speed he will have 84 miles so there is rom for slowdown. My duties included the following:
- Running to the treadmill every mile (Denis would make a sound when it was .95), so I could accurately write down each mile split. While doing that I had to make sure I am not blocking the static cameras for Guinness.
– Changing speed of the treadmill (by Guinness rules, he was not allowed to have any contact with treadmill at any point so we played it safe)
– Checking on 2 static cameras to make sure they are working.
– Giving him water, juice, towels or whatever else he can possibly need while being locked on the machine.
– Making banana shakes and juicing fresh oranges. After about an hour he needed calories and being a fruitarian, he brought boxes of fruit. Good thing I was already familiar with the process! I got my “professional juicer” nickname for a reason!
– Constantly calculating time left, miles needed for the record, translating this into average pace needed and finally into treadmill speed which I personally controlled… I guess, there was a reason why I went to math class for 11 years!!!
– Checking on live online broadcast, which had a lot of viewers and many of them were from Russia (where it was well past midnight!!)
- Reading all the comments to Denis. Answering questions about miles, kilometers, and such. Most popular question was how Denis goes to the bathroom, for some reason!
– Coordinating witnesses and explain to those who kept on arriving how to fill out Guinness forms and what is expected from them. This part was not easy as more and more people were arriving towards the end and this was also the time Denis himself needed much more attention (changing speed, getting fuel, etc..)
– Coordinating media people, many of whom arrived by the end and showing them where the can or cannot go.
– Constantly taking pictures and short videos with my iphone which were then used for Guinness record verification process.
In this process I learned that setting a Guinness record is so much more than just running and doing it. Organizing such a thing, finding help, witnesses and abiding by all of their rules might actually be harder than running 80 miles! When Denis hit 74 miles with another hour to go, I knew he had it as I was not going to let him stop or slow down at that point by any means! When he was hurting, I reminded him of few instances when he was passed in races towards the finish and dug deep and passed those runners back again and won races, as a result! All of this is not supposed to feel easy, or look pretty otherwise anyone would be doing it, I told him… This seemed to work and he actually sped up by the end! Win!
He ended up with 80.54 miles (129.6km), which is over the old record by almost a mile. I was thrilled for him and happy that I was able to help once again! Denis always dreams big and is never afraid to go after it. Can’t wait for another one
of his crazy ideas and I am already signed up…