Navy officer to run 75 miles a day in transcontinental record attempt

75 miles per day — every day for 40 days — adding up to 3,000 miles total. From Santa Monica to New York City, Navy officer Paul Johnson plans to break the world record for a transcontinental run. 

Johnson’s not just taking on the brutal feat for bragging rights; he aims to raise awareness for mental health and $1 million for Team Red, White, and Blue (RWB). He’s already well on his way to meeting the fundraising goal with over $18,000 raised. 

Johnson won’t start his run until March 1, but he’s feeling good going into it while being realistic about how challenging this attempt will be. 

“Physically, I’m feeling really good right now — about as prepared and healthy as I can be at the start of this thing,” Johnson said. “Huge nerves thinking about the unknown of this challenge but that’s part of what makes it so exciting and such an incredible endeavor and journey.”

Less than 400 people have ever completed the feat, but only a few can say they set a world record. The previous world record was established by Pete Kostelnick, who completed the run on Oct. 24, 2016, in 42 days, 6 hours, and 30 minutes, besting the previous record established in 1980 by approximately four days.

Subscribe to Task & Purpose today. Get the latest military news and culture in your inbox daily.

Johnson, a U.S. Navy officer since 2018, has struggled with his mental health and self-medicating with alcohol. But running was the one thing that helped him through his struggles. While stationed in San Diego, California, in 2021, a Marine Corps officer and friend asked him to train for and run the Marine Corps Marathon in 2022. 

After training for almost five months, Johnson and his friend finished the marathon in under three hours; only four percent of all marathon runners ever run a sub-3 hour marathon. Their times qualified for the Boston Marathon, and while continuing his training, he noticed how running was helping him with anxiety and depression symptoms. After arriving at his latest station in Newport, Rhode Island, he decided to take on the challenge of breaking the world record. 

Johnson’s run route has been verified by the Guinness Book of World Records, which was an essential step before he heads out. He aims to run at least 75 miles daily, regardless of weather or other unforeseen circumstances. If he has any slowdowns along the way, he’s prepared for that possibility with a two-day, 150-mile buffer.

“Falling short one day does not mean it’s over,” Johnson said. “We’ll continue to address how things are going and if I am feeling somewhat decent on the back half of the run, we hope to start adding a few miles here and there each day to make up for some expected loss time in the beginning when my body was adapting to the shock of this challenge.”

He’s well prepared though. Johnson has put in the work since announcing his goal to take on the world record on Jan. 1, 2023. He’s logged over 6,500 miles of running, totaling more than 1,050 hours on the road, and it’s all viewable on his website, where people can monitor his progress. But the challenge is as mentally challenging as it is physical.

“Mental preparation has been part of the year-long planning process of developing the understanding and respect for ultra running and how it feels to hit incredible highs but also the lowest lows,” Johnson said. “Trying to visualize how different parts of the run are going to feel while out on my training runs helps me prepare and know what to expect as I learn more and more about my body.”

Johnson believes running is one of the healthier options to help address issues that adversely affect people’s mental health. He hopes that by taking on this world record while showing the journey from the first training day to the day he runs into Times Square, others will be inspired to address their mental health using positive outlets, like physical activity or other healthy options. 

The latest on Task & Purpose

Source link: by Joshua Skovlund at