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12 hours on a treadmill

by Lucas Hathaway 16 Apr 2022 0 Comments
Yes, you read the headline right - 12 hours on a treadmill.

But why? I was asked a couple of days before I stepped on the machine at 7 am on Wednesday 29th December.

'It's so monotonous', said one. 'Soooooooooooo boring', said another.

Monotonous I'll agree with. Boring, no. Can't agree with that. Watch a movie or a sports event on your cell, listen to a podcast, listen to music. Or none of the above, get in the zone, switch off and meditate while plodding along.

Spending 12 hours and beyond in close proximity to a treadmill means you can do all of that.

Running on a treadmill IS monotonous, but that was the major point of this training session.

I couldn't think of a better way to help mentally prepare for a back yard ultra.

Big Wolf's Back Yard Ultra, in Cacouna, Quebec, follows the tried and trusted format of a 6.7km loop on the hour every hour until there's just one person left. They then embark on a 'victory' lap to be the only finisher. Everyone else DNF. Did. Not. Finish. Regardless of the number of loops (or yards) completed.

I'll be attempting that in mid-July, 2022. So to help prepare, I've been building up the loops on the treadmill in my basement, calculating walking and running speeds in order to come in early enough to give me at least a little bit of a rest and enough time to eat and attend to other needs (more of which, later).

With 4-hour and 6-hour sessions already in the bag, it was time to have a crack at 12 hours.

Food, drink, footwear, and clothing was sorted out ahead of time.

This is all trial and error. Pretzels, chips, slices of pizza, cottage cheese, fresh and dried fruits, nuts, electrolyte drinks, water, and fizzy drinks all strategically laid out next to my rest chair.

4 changes of clothing and 3 pairs of running shoes were also close at hand.


I was sent a pair of anti-chafe shorts from Lucas at Runur to test out.

I wanted to use them throughout to see if they do what they claim (I can confirm that they do).

The date had been inked on the calendar for weeks.

I was on Christmas vacation, my partner at work, and I didn't have the kids, so the house was empty save for Sammy the cat who frankly, was more interested in his food bowl, water bowl, sniffing his rear end, and staring out of the lounge window (not necessarily in that order).

There was no better time than the present to get on with it.

So at 7am that's exactly what I did.


Halfway through the first loop my partner came down to the basement to say she was leaving for work.

We exchanged pleasentries and then I was left alone for a few hours.

The first 4 loops were relatively easy enough.

Run, walk, rest, eat, drink. Repeat.

By the end of loop 6 I was ready for a bathroom break of the sit down variety (4 minutes and 3 seconds for those interested in toilet tactics).

After initially coming in around 44/47 minutes, I started to slow down a bit.

My last 6 loops were over 50 minutes.

This was still enough time for a short rest incorporating necessary kit changes and stretches.

The legs were beginning to feel a little heavy by loop 10. Not enough to want to stop, but enough to know I'd been moving for a few hours.

Stretching and a fresh pair of socks changes the mindset completely.

Just before the end of the 11th and penultimate loop, Chantale reappeared in the basement having done a day's work.

So I was running when she left and was still at it when she came home a few hours later.


I felt a sense of euphoria at the start of loop 12. Perhaps knowing it was the final one for the day contributed to this.

At the end of the 12th I genuinely still felt fresh enough to continue.

12 hours / 12 loops / 80 km / 50 miles was the plan for the day.

Job done.

That was a valuable training session mentally, physically, nutritionally, and logistically.

Lessons learned and things to tweak and work on.

The shorts from Runur performed admirably throughout.

No chafing whatsoever and super comfortable.

For what it's worth, I recommend them and will be using them on long runs.

Big Wolf's Back Yard 2022 edition takes place in Cacouna, Quebec, on 16 July, 2022.


Happy running.
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