Georgia Death Race Training Plan

April 5, 2017 /
Updated Feb 19, 2018

I've officially completed the Georgia Death Race. The race report can be found here, but first I felt like I should document my training. Because what everyone is really interested in is: Could I finish something crazy like this or does she just have superpowers?

Disclaimer: I don't have superpowers and I doubted that my training would suffice every single day.

I trained mainly in Columbus, Ohio with no mountains or major hills to speak of. I was also at the crazy low elevation of 902 feet. Luckily GDR did not take place at elevation, but it did have 40,000 feet of elevation change throughout the 75ish miles of the course. (Note: I refuse to call it 68ish miles as the website states. On the elevation chart the miles went to 75.)

In summer of 2016 I had the big Burning River 100 on my schedule. It was my first and only 100 attempt to date. I struggled to find and create my training plan and in the end I DNFed, dropping at mile 52.

Read my in-depth DNF story here

The morning after my DNF at Burning River 100 I did something crazy stupid and logged onto ultrasignup. My self-esteem was at an all time low. GDR registration was set to open that morning. The race shut down ultrasignup. I laid in bed clicking refresh on my phone for 46 minutes. Finally my registration went through.

My training started January 1st. The race date was April 1st - April 2nd. I ran an easy fall 2016 season with some scattered 50ks here and there but no regular long runs to speak of.

My training schedule focused on weekend long runs. I considered the week free-for-all time. I was trying to focus on exercise TIME ONLY during the week. That could come from running, biking, yoga, or strength training. I was focusing on not getting burnt out like I did before the start of Burning River. I valued rest, nutrition, and sleep like I had never done in the past.

I took time away from running and reminded myself to think zen thoughts when GDR came to mind. This was surprisingly hard with the sheer volume of emails and Facebook posts from Run Bum reminding us that we were all going to die. Eventually I got to the point where I was rolling my eyes everytime a new one came out.

I set out to complete two tough months and then give myself all of March to taper. And when I say taper I mean I went into an extremely low mileage taper.

I could have been better at manually entering some activities but here's the general idea. Strava also isn't very good at showing other activities besides typical tri yet (swim, bike, run), so it looks like I had more rest days than I actually did.

Dec 26-Jan 1
Jan 2-8
Jan 9-15
Jan 16-22
Jan 23-29
Jan 30-feb5
Feb 6-12
Feb 13-19
Feb 20-26
Feb27-Mar 5
Mar 6-12
Mar 13-19
Mar 20-26
Mar 27-Apr 2

What Races I Did

Jan 1 First on the First 5k

Jan 8 Rocks and Roots Race #1

Jan 28 Run for Regis 50k

Jan 29 Winter Buckeye Trail 50k

Feb 5 5th Line 5k

Feb 12 Rocks and Roots Race #2

Feb 19 Warm Up Columbus Marathon

Feb 26 Olde Girdled Grit 50k

I scheduled 5ks in March to force myself not to overtrain:

Mar 11 Orange out the Door 5k

Mar 18 On the Right Track 5k

What Went Wrong

After my back to 50ks I had lingering knee pain. I wanted to run a cheap marathon in Indiana on February 4th to get a long run in and cross another state off of my 50 States list. I iced, stretched, and backed down on mileage. The morning of the race my alarm went off and I got up to get ready. Nope. I had a bad feeling in my knee and reminded myself that today was not my goal race. I settled for a shorter bike ride that day instead.

I also planned on running the 50 miler at the February Rocks and Roots race. My knee flaired up and I made another tough decision to call it and go home with a 50k finish instead.

I took up some physicial therapy shortly after the February Rocks and Roots race and got serious with knee and hip strengthening exercises for the month and a half leading up to The Big Race. I am happy to report that I had zero knee pain during GDR, and no lingering pain in the immediate days that followed either.

Treating that injury A.S.A.P. likely ended up saving my race and ensuring my finish. Sometimes body maintenance is more important than sticking to the training regime.

Another issue I had was that I got sick immidately following my final long run at Olde Girdled Grit. I had put in 11 miles on Saturday followed by 31.5 on Sunday making for a long weekend in the cold. I felt insanely sick for over two weeks. I backed off of training all together during this time and focused on sleep and getting better as soon as I could.

Both of these inicidents were stressful but I think I handled the curve balls in the best way possible. In the end, most importantly, I walked away with my GDR finish.