This Man Did 26.2 Miles Pulling a Car. Here’s How He Trained
Max Glover loves a challenge—the weirder the better. He also likes to use these weird challenges to raise money for a good cause.
“You could say challenging myself in various different ways is a passion for me, but recently I have decided that I should use my passion and strength for good, so I have done a couple of challenges this year to raise money for charity,” Glover, 32, told Runner’s World.
That’s why his latest challenge—doing a marathon while pulling a BMW 525d that weighs nearly 4,000 pounds—didn’t seem like a terrible choice. For this particular endeavor, he was inspired by his friend Julie Parker, who recently had a double lung transplant at Harefield Hospital in London, and decided to raise money for the hospital. Glover documented the challenge on his YouTube channel.
One of the most challenging things was finding a place to do this safely. He eventually found the Bruntingthorpe Airfield in Lecicestershire, U.K. He gave himself 24 hours to complete the task over the course of August 3 and 4, and he finished in 21 hours 58 minutes.
And while this is not recommended for everyone, Glover took his training very seriously.
Yes, this is a crazy physical challenge that only a few can attempt. But Glover did not go into this without a plan.
“It’s not something to do on a whim, you need to be trained for the additional load on the tendons, especially the Achilles tendon, that would come from leaning forward into the harness,” Janet Hamilton, C.S.C.S., owner of Atlanta-based company Running Strong, told Runner’s World.
Along with an abundance of endurance, she added you would need to be sure to train your lower back, hips, and thighs—and focus on strength training—to get ready for something this grueling.
“Make sure your resistance training is as specific to the task as it can be,” Hamilton said.
While Glover is a trainer/bodybuilder and served as a Royal Marines Commando, once he secured the location he only had just 13 days before the event to prepare. He reached out to friends on Facebook for help and was able to fit in about 10 sessions pulling a car before the event, for 45 minutes to two hours at a time. He also added additional weight in the car so on the day of the event, the car would feel lighter.
“I employ ‘train hard, play easy’ mentality. As I had limited time to train, I felt this accelerated things,” he said.
“My first session I couldn’t complete a 0.3 mile course without stopping! This was due to inclines, corners, speed bumps, and wet ground,” he said. “But I was focused and instead of feeling defeated I asked myself, ‘Why didn’t things work? Why did I lose momentum? Why couldn’t I do that?’ And then broke down all my failings and found a solution.”
Relying on His Fitness Background
While Glover’s gym background helped prepare him, he found pulling the car was more complicated than he thought it would be. He had to account for things like track incline, towing the car in a circle, and being awake and moving for nearly a full 24 hours.
He did the marathon on a two-mile circuit. He became more efficient as the laps went by, with mile 13 being the quickest—about 25 minutes.
“It’s not as simple as just putting the harness on and running,” he said. “A lot of it is down to planning and pacing—and not always slow and steady!”
He strength trains frequently, but he hadn’t done cardio workouts since 2009. He instead relied on his full-body and functional movement training, paying attention to mobility, and form to get him through.
[Blast through a series of HIIT sessions to boost running strength and prevent injury with the IronStrength Workout.]
“I’m blessed with pretty solid glutes, and I just made sure they were doing as much of the work as possible,” he said. “Harness adjustment was crucial as well. I set it up to make sure I was loading the hips as much as possible to reduce strain on the lower back.”
Knowing When to Take Breaks
Another thing Hamilton said is crucial to completing a task like this: fueling and rest breaks. Both of which Glover was well-prepared for.
“I scheduled breaks, and I had to take these regardless of how I was feeling, even if I was feeling fine, I would have to stop and stay on top of things, I didn’t want to run out of ATP [energy that powers muscle contraction] or glycogen.”
And, as he got going, he learned how to adapt to the track and when and where it made sense to break for a rest and fuel. He planned to take breaks for food every four miles. These breaks ranged from about five minutes to a little bit longer as the night went on. He also had the people steering the car use the odometer to measure every half mile to stop for things like hydration, bathroom breaks, and a snack like a banana or light carbs.
Working the Course to His Advantage
He broke the two-mile track into sections in his mind: the start was a long incline, not too steep and just under one mile. This was a slow, powerful plod that he said he could maintain, but it would then level out at the top, which allowed him time to recover somewhat. Then, the next bit was a shorter but steeper incline on a bend (making it a lot more difficult).
He’d use the power he saved in recovery to power through this incline, knowing that after this, the track sloped into a slight decline before coming to another gradual incline to finish out the lap.
“An incline round a bend became an absolute killer toward the end [of each lap].”
Glover took fueling very seriously.
He had his usual breakfast of fruit, white rice, and mackerel at 6 a.m. before a three and a half hour drive to the track. There, he had a couple of ham sandwiches from a nearby pub. The marathon started at 1:50 p.m., so he wanted to make sure he was fueled up beforehand.
The night before, he prepped containers he could dig into every four miles with:
1 pastie (pastry typically filled with meat, potato, and onion)
1 malt loaf (sweet, dense bread with a chewy texture) with butter
He also had a second bag full of bananas and extra malt loaf and butter to eat at regular intervals, plus a bag of Snickers and Mars Bars and another bag with sports drinks, like Gatorade and Lucozade Sport.
“I’d snack and drink these on shorter breaks as well as drinking a lot of water—between 30 to 40 liters over the duration [of the marathon].”
Surrounded by Support
Glover had a lot of support from friends and family who cheered him on, helped steer the car, and even his mom, who baked a cake for fuel at his request.
“I think this whole thing shows how amazing the human body is and how quickly it can adapt and do things that it seemingly shouldn’t be able to do,” he said.
He raised £2,161.24 (around $2,300) for the Harefield Hospital transplant appeal, well more than his goal of £1,000 ($1,248).