How This Philadelphia Runner Is Training for a 230-Mile Race Across Haiti

The longest race she's run so far is 26.2 miles.

Photograph courtesy Jessica Wayashe.

If you’re a normal person, running a marathon can sound like an insane amount of running. Heck, running a half marathon can sound like an insane amount of running.

But Philadelphia runner Jessica Wayashe, who works on corporate partnerships for City Fitness, is planning to run nearly ten times that distance in a 230-mile race across Haiti. While that may sound totally nuts, it’s for a good cause: The run will raise money for Work, an organization that seeks to bring Haitian families out of poverty by providing them with good jobs. So far, Wayashe has brought in over $3,800.

The race, which runs north to south across the entire country of Haiti, will be attempted by 40 runners who have eight days to complete the race. The challenge kicks off in just a few weeks on February 16, which means that Wayashe and the other runners are in the heat of training.

Given that to us, most days “long distance” means the space between the couch and the fridge, we asked Wayashe how one goes about training for such a long race — plus any tips she has for building up our own mileage.

What does your weekly training regimen look like? 
I am a morning runner. My legs are fresh and well-rested if running is the first thing I do, opposed to running in the evenings, after a full day on my feet. During the week, I won’t see any days over nine miles. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, or Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays are my long-run days, which I consider anything over ten miles. I take either Sunday or Monday as a rest day.

Do you do any workouts outside of running? 
Outside of the occasional yoga class, foam roll-outs, or treadmill (I refer to as dreadmill) miles at City Fitness, I’ll participate at November Project, usually one day a week. This has been the biggest adjustment to my normal workout regimen, since for me, I’d only miss November Project workouts on the rare occasion. Unfortunately, I learned early on in my training that trying to make November Project work into my Run Across Haiti training schedule was putting wear and tired tear on my body. When I do show up now, I’ll modify the exercises so I can get the most cardio during the workouts as possible.

What’s the farthest you’ve run so far? 
The furthest distance I’ve run during training so far is 26.2 miles at the Philadelphia Marathon, but I’ve had a lot of back-to-back-to-back days, like 15 or 18 milers for three days in a row.

How do you stay motivate through so many miles? 
I am living my “why” — which is to inspire through connecting community and movement. Knowing that through this run, I can provide hope and liberation, be it mentally or financially, to someone reading this today, or to a few Haitian families in Menelas, is what keeps me motivated.

Photograph courtesy Jessica Wayashe.

Favorite podcasts for long runs? 
I love TED Radio Hour, How I Built This, and 99% Invisible. I’ve got a running trail playlist on my Spotify, but I’ve been using that less since it makes me a bit speedier on my long runs than I want to be.

How do you stay fueled during runs? 
For hydration, I drink Nuun and Skratch Labs. I love Lenny & Larry’s The Complete Cookies, Cliff Bloks and bars. Doughnuts curb my sugar cravings and pickles curb my salt cravings (weird, I know)! I love my Nathan hydration belt for long runs and my SPIbelt for shorter.

Okay, so what’s the secret for building up our own mileage? 
Two things: 1) Run through the discomfort. To this day, the first few miles for me suck. No matter how conditioned you are or what shape you’re in, your body needs some time to adjust from an aerobic to anaerobic state. For me, I don’t get into a groove until mile three or four, and that’s just always how it’s been for me. If you don’t think you can run the whole time, do a walk/run combo instead. That will build up your endurance to get your heart and body used to pushing further, for longer.

2) Find a community. When I started distance running, it was to train for the 2013 Boston Marathon as a New England Patriots Foundation charity runner. (Sorry, Philly! I love you, but I’m a born-and-bred New Englander!) Between my marathon teammates and the local non-profit community, who depended on my running as a way for them to raise money and gain awareness for their organizations, I had two communities that were relying on my commitment and accountability to show up. Having that kind of support makes it more difficult to give-up or quit on something you agreed to do.

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