Massachusetts native Becca Pizzi recently signed up for the challenge of a lifetime. The lifelong runner is currently participating in the World Marathon, an event that involves 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days. Though she has run many marathons in the past, this race presents a whole new set of obstacles. In addition to the races themselves, Pizzi will need to prepare for extreme jet lag, limited rest, varying weather and climates, dehydration and, of course, world-renowned competitors.
But Pizzi is ready. With 45 marathons under her belt, she says the running doesn’t intimidate her. We’re excited to see her make history as the first American woman to complete the World Marathon, starting with a casual 26.2 miles in Antarctica. We caught up with Becca before she left. Follow her progress on the World Marathon Facebook page.
What inspired you to take on the World Marathon?
To me, this is the ultimate test of endurance and strength. This is an opportunity for me to inspire the world and show that you can do anything you put your mind to. I love to travel and I love to run! It is my goal to show my 8-year-old daughter Taylor to believe in herself. I asked Taylor what she thought before I committed to the World Marathon, and she was so excited by the idea. She has really been my inspiration throughout this entire process.
How are you training differently than past marathons?
I'm running 7 days per week to train (instead of my usual 5 days). Leading up to the World Marathon, I have run between 70-100 miles per week. I am running on tired legs in order to simulate the back-to-back marathons. I also added personal training, crossfit, and yoga for runners. These cross-training workouts help build strength in a way that running can’t on its own. Building strength will help prevent injuries—the key to running a successful World Marathon
Besides physical training, how do you prepare your mind and body for your runs?
I am learning to be outside of my comfort zone. I am so far out of my comfort zone while prepping for this challenge that it is actually starting to feel comfortable! It is important to get used to really pushing yourself.
The hardest part of this race will be being away from my daughter Taylor for two weeks. I will run with a SPIbelt with her dance photo in it. Thinking of her is my secret for powering through these races. I’m surprisingly not concerned with the running. I have run all of my life! What worries me is the unknown. For example, there will be sub-zero temperatures in Antarctica during the first race. The last race will be under summer temperatures in Australia. It is to my advantage that I am from New England because I’ve already trained in all types of weather. I am ready.
Anything in particular you do to take care of your feet?
I never, ever run without proper insoles. In the 45 marathons I have run over the years, I have never been injured. I know that proper insoles plays a huge role in this. That and a little bit of luck!
Any strategies for recovering after a big run?
After each run, I compress using Dr. Cool recovery compression wraps and hydrate with Ultima Replenisher electrolyte. I am very fortunate to have three amazing sponsors. They make great products that help me stay at my best and I am so excited to have their support. Without them, this race would not be possible for me. My third sponsor is Lyon-Waugh Auto Group.
What will your next big challenge be?
I’m always excited by a new challenge. Since I’ve been working so hard over the past year, I don't want to waste my training base. Instead, I will use it to my advantage and compete in my first Ironman competition. An Ironman race is the most difficult one-day sporting event in existence. It consists of a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bicycle ride, and finished with a full marathon (26.2 miles). An Ironman is always completed in that order and without a break. It will be an incredible new challenge to try after I complete the World Marathon.
It is hard to image the level of intensity that Becca will endure. Her training is largely about being comfortable with suffering. It is something that many elite athletes train for. The ability to suffer plays a huge part in human performance. What about our capacity to suffer in other ways. Suffering the boredom of a traffic jam, the frustration of poor customer service, the inconvenience of a flat tire. Are these annoyances as deserving of our mental training as marathons and bike races?
Becca finished first in Antarctica setting a course record of 3:57:19. Incredible achievement!