Dane Rauschenberg has achieved some amazing things throughout his running career. Find out how he got started and pick up some great tips from this running legend.
1) How long have you been running and when did you get involved in ultra running?
I dabbled in track starting my junior year in high school because, essentially, my mom bought the wrong hat. (Was supposed to get me a swimming hat for a varsity letter, got a track one instead and I told her to keep it and I would run track.)
But it wasn’t until my final year of law school that I began running the way I do now.
My first ultra came not long after and, all things considered, is still probably the greatest feat I have ever done. Running a 12 hour race in Erie, PA, just one month after my first marathon, I clocked 84 miles in during the time.
I knew nothing about running, fueling, or anything else but had a colossally good day.
2) You are very well known for completing 52 marathons in 52 weekends – what was your inspiration for this challenge?
I found that I seemed to get better at running with less recovery time, contrary to everything I had read about the sport of long distance running.
So I went through a couple of ideas of how to challenge myself like no one else had, and the one every single weekend idea popped into my head.
Mind you, I had only run about 8 marathons when this took root.
3) What does your ultra-marathon training involve?
The easy and true answer to this is “it depends.” Since ultras of even the same distance can be vastly different in terrain, elevation or weather, those alone can require a great deal of training variance.
Change it from same distance but different terrain to different distances and you might as well be talking about two different sports. What it takes to run a 50k hard could not be more different than running a 100 miler.
I have never been a high mileage guy. I see people who run 4,000 or 5,000 miles in a year with middling race efforts and I just don’t see the point.
When people follow me on Strava I know they are going to be disappointed. It is rare for me to put in 70 miles in a week let alone the insane numbers I see others do. But I don’t care what my mileage is.
Make your miles count, don’t count your miles.
4) What is your race day routine?
Very little. I don’t eat or drink before virtually any race as my stomach doesn’t process food well.
I might have an orange juice or something smooth to go down just for the calories. Other than that, what I ate the night before is far more important.
I’m not a morning person so I hate how most races start in the a.m. How I can even function for races in the morning, when on the average day I am death warmed over until 10am at the earliest, is beyond me.
5) What is the toughest race you have taken part in and why?
Without fail, the toughest races I will ever take part in always have to do with the weather. Weather dictates every single thing about my race performances.
I have Gilbert’s Syndrome which is a liver disorder which impedes quick recovery from strenuous activity, as well as even maintaining a healthy balance during a long-distance event.
Don’t get me wrong, it is not the worst thing in the world but for every degree above 50 it gets on race day, it is another level of discomfort for me. I’d take 15 degrees over 80 any day.
So while some course and some races themselves might challenge me (Leadville Marathon, for example), it is the random 8ks in blazing hot heat that stick out in my mind as the ones which almost put me in a hospital.
6) Have you ever hit the wall during a race? What is the best way to avoid it?
Of course. I hear people say they have when they go from running an 8 minute mile to a 10 minuet mile. That’s not hitting the wall. That’s slowing down. I have had full body shut downs (see above for reasoning.)
Best way to avoid it is to choose cooler races. If that is unavoidable, you have to make a pact with yourself that running slower than you desire means you end up 15 minutes slower in this 50k than you wanted to, rather than redlining and ending up in a medical tent.
7) What is your favourite ultra-marathon and why?
I’ve only run roughly 25 ultras so the list is smaller than one might think for me to choose. Even still, I have no idea.
I can find some amazing things about no less than three off the top of my head. But finishing my first 100 miler after one DNF at mile 87 and one drop down to the 50 mile option was a huge relief.
Had nothing to do with the race itself which left much to be desired. It was so much more about it happening just a few months after my father had passed.
We weren’t especially close when I was growing up but when I began running, he really took an interest in what I was doing. I can only wish I had completed one before he died.
Nevertheless, when I finished the race, I know thoughts of him powered me through when otherwise I would have faltered.
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8) What events appear on your race bucket list?
I am writing a book about must run races. I also have a personal motto to never use the term “b***** l***.” But as for races I feel I would like to run, the scroll unrolls endlessly.
Chances are if someone asks me “Hey, would you like to run…?” my answer is “Yep.” I know people don’t like that sort of answer so let me say that without a doubt I would love to cross Comrades finish line before I shuffle off this mortal coil.
9) What are your top tips for getting started in Ultra running?
The world today is just amazing with regards to access to info. Starting running today is so much easier than say ten years ago.
You have more, coherent info from so many levels of runners in the ultraworld. You no longer have to know the special club handshake to find out more about the 100k in whatever forest other than “there’s an aid station with one bottle of Coke at mile 47”. Although with so much information there is also a lot of wheat you must separate from the chaff.
My biggest tip is don’t let anyone tell you that you are “only” doing anything. “Only” doing a 50k. “Only” doing three ultras this year. “Only” running x amount of miles or vert or whatever.
There is no shame or need to run 100 miles or 200 miles or anything else because more and more people are completing ultras.
Find what you want to do and just stick to that. Running is very hard. Most runs don’t go well. As stands to reason most races don’t go well.
Just know that any finish line crossed is a victory to build upon.
10) What are your running plans for 2018?
I was assaulted in July and had my face fractured in three places and my thumb had three pins in it. I’m just now getting back into the swing of things. I have no overarching awesome or epic plan to wow anyone with.
I’m currently filtering through a slew of new sponsors and new partners to see what is on the horizon. I may team up with a friend to run a nice little run that has nothing to do with a race but has much to say about where our country is presently.
People like to pretend that running and politics are separate but this past election has shown that politics pervade into every core of our lives. I am hoping that this run we are planning will be a celebration of the best of our country and hopefully show there is so much more to come.
I’ll also probably run a marathon or two.
About Dane Rauschenberg
Dane Rauschenberg is an extreme athlete, author, motivational speaker and award-winning blogger. Dane is well-known for pushing the boundaries of his sport and his body.
In 2006 he made his mark on the running world by running 52 marathons in 52 consecutive weekends. He then stepped up another gear in 2010 by running the American Odyssey Relay solo – 202 miles in just over 50 hours of running. 2012 saw him complete a 350-mile run up the coast of Oregon.
To learn more about Dane Rauschenberg, head over to his website See Dane Run
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