How to Train for a Never-Ending Race

Andrew Kastor's advice for running through the dead of night
Wings For Life World Run

OK, so the Wings for Life World Run isn’t exactly a “never-ending” race, but the fact that it has no finish line sure makes it sound that way.

On May 4, 2014 starting at 10 a.m. UTC and at equivalent times across the globe runners from almost every continent will embark on a unique journey, all with the shared goal of raising money for spinal cord injury research.  

What makes the race exceptionally distinct is that instead of heading towards a fixed finish line, the finish line will follow runners from behind.  Dispatched 30 minutes after the start, “catcher cars” will trail the pack, when the car passes a runner, their race is over and they’ll return to the start area via shuttle.

Oh yeah, and the other aspect that makes this race extra alternative is that some runners will compete through the dead of night. Thanks to time zone differences, participants starting in locations like South Korea, New Zealand and Australia will begin their endeavors at odd hours.  

Waking up and racing at 3 a.m. isn’t what most runners would consider traditional. But according to Andrew Kastor, Head Coach of the LA Road Runners and the ASICS Mammoth Track Club it’s definitely not impossible.

Below he offers his best advice on how to train and prepare for such a highly unusual athletic event.

Wings for Life World Run: How should you adjust your training to account for a 3 a.m. start time?
Coach Andrew Kastor: For the Los Angeles and Denver locations of the Wings for Life World Run, the race starts at 3 and 4 a.m., respectively. For a race that starts very early in the morning or, in some folks minds, very late at night, I suggest practicing 2-3 times with the awkward starting times during their training for the event.  Each early morning training session should be scheduled when the athlete is able to sleep during the day to help with recovery from the workout.  I also suggest that there should be at least 1 week between the last early morning training run and the main event to allow for recovery.

What should your schedule be the day before the race?
Rest, rest, rest the day before the Wings for Life World Run. The week leading up to the race, keep your normal sleep patterns, this way your body will be well rested going into the event.  

When should you eat, when should you sleep?
Have a high carbohydrate meal for dinner. (Pasta, pancakes, baked potato, etc.) Try to go to bed early the night before the race, wake up 1-2 hours before the event and eat a little carbohydrate snack to raise your blood sugar back up before the start.

What are some safety tips for running at night?
Run defensively, assume that a person driving a car will never see you. Wear reflective running gear!  Run in a well-lit areas so you can see where you’re feet are landing!  If there are no street lights where you live, wear a headlamp for training.  Or, if you have to, run on a treadmill, that is always a safe way to train in the dark!

Interested in running the race? Sign up before April 20, 2014 at

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