About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I spend countless hours running in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, TX. I call it "going to church". I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The All Night Training Run

Seriously? Who runs all night long? Well, I do when I’m training for a one hundred miler especially when heat is an issue. Last month I pulled several all nighters for the mental training needed to prepare me for what’s coming next week, the Javalina Jundred in Phoenix, AZ. 

Persuading someone to join you on a 12 hour training run at night is nearly impossible so you must be prepared to go it alone. Running all night really isn’t that bad unless of course you are afraid of the dark, can’t stand to be alone or...um...have an  aversion to zombies. In reality a zombie’s stare is much worse than their bite so don’t fear. Staying up all night can be fun too. Remember those days as a teen when you tried to stay awake all night with your friends?

On both all nighters I chose to run on the Rio Grande levee road and connecting canals because I had seen a lot of rattlesnakes on the mountain trails in my area. The evening went by fairly quickly and on one occasion I met up with my local running club at 5:00am to enjoy their comaraderie for the last several hours of running.

This is what the river levee looks like during the day.
The canals in the upper valley of El Paso, TX are perfect for night running because you are never far from help lest there is a zombie apocalypse. Worse than walking dead are texting drivers so staying off roads and highways is a must. The canals criss cross the many neighborhoods in the area and, other than a few road crossings, you are free from traffic.

Canal at night
Canal in the day
After running for half the night you will stop worrying about creepy things that lurk in the darkness because by this time you have become a zombie yourself. All that lack of sleep has turned you numb and you are now running on auto pilot dreaming of a rising sun. To combat drowsiness I like to have a caffeinated gel like a Hammer Espresso or Cliff Shot Mocha. 

The week before my 51st birthday I ran 51 miles in 12 hours feeling strong enough to cover the last six in a little over an hour. I completed this, my longest training run, about five weeks before my race so I would have the last month or so to taper. 

Here are 10 tips for running an all nighter:

1. Buy a good headlamp with both flood and spot light options especially if you run trails (look at lumens and battery life). The flood option will light the rugged trail and the spot will help you pinpoint skunks, snakes, lions, tigers and bears. Oh...and zombies.

2. Don’t use your house as a base for resupplying; you may end up saying, “SCREW IT!” at 3:00am and just crawl into bed.

3. Find a safe place to run. Contrary to popular belief, serial killers don’t typically hide in the mountains or backcountry because they are too lazy to hike that far (I’m going to get hate mail for that sentence), but mountain lions do. Personally, I’ll take my chances with lions over texting drivers. But that’s just me. Run where you feel comfortable. 

4. Don’t run a one mile loop (yawn!) unless that is “your thing” or the type of race you are training for.

5. Have an assortment of foods and drinks that you can look forward to when you return to your car/base camp. I like ginger ale (w/real sugar), salami, crackers, pretzel thins (everything flavor), oranges, bananas, cinnamon raisin bread, cream cheese. You know, the standard aid station fare.

…or make a run to the Whataburger that is close to the canals.
6. Have extra clothes, socks and shoes. Changing out of damp or soaked clothes will make you feel better, at least for a while, especially if it gets chilly as the night wears on. Changing socks and shoes once or twice may help prevent blisters.

7. Split your run up into manageable parts. I ran a 20 mile out-and-back along the river with my 3-litre camelbak and then ran a 12 mile loop with a hydration vest, then another 13 mile out-and-back along the river (opposite direction) and then a 6 mile loop with hand held bottles. The variety of hydration systems helped break up the monotony and gave my shoulders a break.

8. If running partners won’t accompany you all night, ask if they will start with you or meet you in the morning. (Just remember that your legs won’t be fresh if your friends are fast).

9. Use caffein if you so choose. Gels, soda, Starbucks, Red Bull, etc.

10. Most importantly, bring your sense of humor. After all, If you happen to run into anyone in the middle of the night they will most likely be laughing their ass off at you (or calling the cops.) Have some fun too. My favorite is switching all the republican and democrat yard signs during election season. 

See you on the trail.


  1. Great tips Greg! One day, I'll be strong enough to join you.

    1. Thanks for reading. I know you're a morning person so we'll have to join up in the wee hours to finish the all nighter together. Haha!

  2. Good tips. Scary, I recognize some of those pics...

    1. I think the first time I ran those canals was with you and Raven.