Ah, the treadmill. It's probably one of the most dreaded — and boring — pieces of equipment in the gym. Often used as a last resort when the weather or daylight conspire to keep a runner indoors, the treadmill — or dreadmill, as it is often affectionately called — can make a mile seem like 20. Which is what makes the recent feat of a woman from Fort Wayne, Indiana, that much more impressive. By running 73.3 miles on a treadmill, Suzi Swinehart, a 43-year-old mom, smashed the current 12-hour treadmill-running world record.
Just let that sink in for a minute: 73.3 miles ... in 12 hours of running ... on a treadmill.
Any one of those accomplishments on their own would be impressive. Add them together and you've got a jaw-dropping feat.
Swinehart's run took place from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Three Rivers Running Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana. While she is no stranger to distance running — she has previously run four 100-mile races — the furthest she ran on a treadmill prior to this attempt was 30 miles, and that was training for this record.
Of course the big question was not so much how Swinehart ran over 73 miles (although that is amazing,) but how she ran on a treadmill for 12 hours without completely losing her mind. Most runners I know consider a single mile on the treadmill to be equal to double the mileage on the road because of the mental fatigue it creates.
"I definitely can do the running from doing 100-mile races, but being in one place on a treadmill for 12 hours, mentally, is very challenging," Swinehart told her local news station. "It's the mental part that's going to be much harder than the physical."
To combat this, Swinehart brought her Roku along and had planned to watch movies for 12 hours to take her mind off of the fact that she was basically running like a gerbil on a wheel. But, frustratingly, no one could figure out how to get the Roku to work.
Fortunately, Swinehart never lacked for entertainment. She conducted interviews with reporters and chatted with folks who stopped in to watch. Many of her teammates from her ultrarunning team stopped to cheer her on throughout the day, even holding a hula-hoop contest and dancing to entertain their friend.
According to Guinness World Record rules, Swinehart was allowed to hop off of the treadmill for quick bathroom breaks. And she slowed her pace to a walk for five minutes every hour so that she could eat and drink. She also changed her shoes and shorts once during the day to prevent chafing and blistering.
Swinehart's husband and their four kids — ages 5, 11, 13 and 16 — came at the end of the day to watch her break the current treadmill-running record of 68.54 miles, and then continue running to smash it.
"They were very excited. They were loving it," Swinehart said in a interview with Runner's World. "My 5-year-old, he was awesome, entertaining me the last hour just cheering for me, 'Go mom!' He'd stop and go, 'Mom, are you tired?' It was a lot of fun having them there."
Congrats to Swinehart on her record-breaking run and for proving that even an ordinary (her words), mom can make big things happen by just taking it one step at a time.