The Man Who Runs 365 Marathons a Year

No superpower works in a vacuum—we all need to have a tiny inspiration. Shattuck idolizes and attempts to design himself right after Marcus Luttrell, the former Navy SEAL who was the inspiration at the rear of the Hollywood film Lone Survivor, and David Goggins, another former SEAL, who has finished far more than sixty ultra-endurance events and wrote the bestseller Cannot Hurt Me. Goggins is a common on Luttrell’s Crew Never Quit podcast.

To stick to the route of Luttrell and Goggins, one particular has to have a certain tendency towards masochism: “I encourage myself with dim visuals, like me at the bottom of a sewer. That picture will make me really sturdy,” Goggins suggests in one particular podcast interview. “Motivation is not enough. Determination is crap. You need to have passion.” 

Shattuck unquestionably has the latter. For the duration of our first cellphone get in touch with, his voice broke as he relayed the hardships Luttrell survived in Afghanistan. “These servicemen and women—what they do, what they go by way of, they crack their bodies and they keep likely,” he sobbed. “Like Marcus, I made the determination a prolonged time ago that I’m not likely to give up. I am hardly ever likely to give up.”

Shattuck’s psychological reaction shocked me, specifically considering the fact that he has hardly ever been in the navy. But as we run by way of the countryside, I before long understand that his very same depth bubbles to the area with most everything he does. He tells me about his “pace pyramids,” a psychological increase he uses on his minimum inspired times to get by way of the miles, functioning 9 at a fifteen-moment pace, eight at a 14-moment pace, and so on right up until he’s accomplished. (“If I get started out slow enough,” he suggests, “I just never give up.”) Then he relays his vegan period of time, a section through which he ingested 25 scoops of a green superfood powder per working day, a behavior he experienced to halt simply because he got so wired that, he suggests, “I felt like I was ingesting energy.”

As the miles tick off on our loop of Ripon, Shattuck’s inspirational estimates give way to a darker earlier. In high school, he ran cross-country but was also a “party animal” who smoked two packs of cigarettes a working day and raged all evening, utilizing liquor, and afterwards cocaine, to extremes. He nonetheless managed to go to school and graduate from UW-Stevens Point with a degree in social science. Just after school he labored in a variety of accounting positions in Madison when continuing to occasion. He ran through those years but not enough to combat the extra. By 2004, his earlier lithe six-foot-one particular-inch, 150-pound body experienced ballooned to 240 lbs. 

“I was a pack-a-working day marathoner,” he jokes. In 2006, he ran the Chicago Marathon in 3:09:31, just 29 seconds underneath the cutoff to qualify for Boston, which he finished two years afterwards with his brother, Steve. (Their sister, Alison Dawson, nonetheless retains the two-mile file at Ripon High School and earned a Division I keep track of and cross-country scholarship to the College of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.) 

Shattuck’s partying lifetime abruptly ended in 2013, he suggests, right after a individual shut to him went on a drug binge that nearly killed him. With that wake-up get in touch with, he doubled down on the organic endorphin highs he got from functioning, finally increasing his mileage to 50- and 100-mile ultras. Then, in the summer season of 2018, a friend from high school died from liquor poisoning. 

“The male drank himself to loss of life,” he suggests. In the aftermath, Shattuck dreamed up the 26 Days of Christmas, an energy to run a marathon each working day for 26 times straight, starting on November 30, 2018. Soon right after, in mid-December, Shattuck was fired from his occupation as a senior monetary specialist at the College of Wisconsin-Madison. Dropping his occupation hit him tough. 

“I crumbled as terrible as you could picture,” he suggests. “I could not fucking halt crying. I didn’t understand how much of my id was tied up in that occupation.” 

He stopped sleeping much, acquiring just one particular to a few hours each individual evening. But he continued to run his marathons, typically starting at 3 or four A.M. For the duration of those early-morning jogs, he fantasized about how he could close his lifetime devoid of his household suspecting suicide. He commenced to crack down in tears at the slightest provocation. The suicidal ideas turned a close to regular existence in his brain. He made a plan to head west to the mountains and “accidentally” get shed on a run, disappearing off the face of the earth. 

One particular of the only items that stopped him, he suggests, was a Crew Never Give up podcast with U.S. Marine Dakota Meyer, who acquired the Medal of Honor for saving the lives of 36 U.S. soldiers and allies in Afghanistan in 2009. A year afterwards, a drunk Meyer pulled his Glock out of his truck’s glove compartment and attempted to destroy himself. The pistol was unloaded. Meyer subsequently sought aid for put up-traumatic strain problem. 

“Jesus Christ, person,” Shattuck told me. “If an individual like that does not fucking close it, I believed, I cannot close it both.” 

But Shattuck was freaked out by the twists and turns of his have brain. “It was distinct I essential fucking instant aid.” 

That December, he identified as an right after-hours clinic in Madison. The nurse referred him to a physician who later diagnosed him with bipolar problem and approved an antipsychotic drug.

When Shattuck concluded the previous marathon of his 26 Days challenge on Christmas morning, he couldn’t locate a legit reason to give up. So, like the Forrest Gump cliché, he kept on functioning. “26.two miles is My New Baseline,” he wrote on Strava, on December 26, 2018, deciding at that level to run a marathon a working day for the rest of his lifetime. He divested his retirement account—about $5,000—into a year’s well worth of functioning shoes, protein powder, and other incidentals. (He also looked for sponsorship but didn’t have any luck.) But the funds did absolutely nothing for the pounding he took through the unrelenting miles. His shins swelled so much that his lessen legs turned greater than his thighs. In January 2019, he got the flu, which induced vomiting and diarrhea. But he kept functioning. “One day I went out at twelve:forty nine A.M. at minus-25 temperatures and minus-fifty two windchill to shuffle around on unplowed sidewalks to make confident I could finish,” he suggests. That marathon took him eight hours, but he did it. 

“Complete extra. Which is me by mother nature,” he suggests. Probably as a result of the sleeplessness, Shattuck commenced having powerful hallucinations. 

“I’d be on an early-morning run, and I’d see a lady with a round face smoking cigarettes a cigarette, and it would transform out it would be a bush,” Shattuck suggests. He experienced the very same eyesight several times, which “scared the shit out of me.” He give up his medication and finally moved again to Ripon to stay with his retired mom and dad.