Eddie Izzard is a maniac.
Longtime fans of his know this from his comedy. But, recently he’s made headlines for something else.
In February and March 2016, at the age of 54, the British comedian completed the distance of 27 marathons in 27 days as a tribute to Nelson Mandela. Eddie Izzard began his running feat at Mbashe Bridge near the southeastern coast of South Africa and ended his journey on the steps of South Africa’s Union Buildings in Pretoria where Mandela was sworn in as president.
To complete a single marathon is a feat worthy of congratulations in itself. But 27? In less than a month? Hats off to Izzard!
How Eddie Izzard Trains
This isn’t the first time Izzard has done back-to-back marathons. In 2009, he completed 43 marathons in 52 days around Britain. But in 2012, when he attempted to accomplish 27 marathons around South Africa in 27 days, he had to drop out after four marathons due to rhabdomyolysis, a condition that results from the breakdown of muscle tissue and that can damage the kidneys. He vowed to return.
How do you train to take on 27 marathons? You don’t. Izzard admitted that in 2012, he had barely run since 2009. But even in 2009, though he trained with Olympic coaches and trainers, he only prepped for a mere five weeks.
This time, he worked hard to stay fit, but didn’t follow a specific regimen.
“Running is high-impact, which is why training for and racing in even one marathon can take a heavy toll on the body; doing them back-to-back-to-back-to-back isn’t something the average person should do,” says Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S., Beachbody’s Senior Manager of Fitness and Nutrition Content. “Does that mean you shouldn’t train for a marathon? Not at all. Just don’t follow in Izzard’s exact footsteps—space them out.”
Eddie Izzard’s Running Inspiration
Whatever challenge you’re taking on, whether it’s completing a marathon, walking a 5K, or just pushing play to get started with a Beachbody of Demand workout, that challenge has a significant mental component. Izzard took that mental game to a whole other level.
“You have to be a tremendous athlete to do what he did without your body completely breaking down, but at his level, it’s more of a mental challenge then a physical one,” says Thieme. “You can’t adequately prepare your body to run 27 marathons in 27 days. Accomplishing such a feat comes from extraordinary mental grit and tenacity, and Izzard obviously had both.”
During the 707-mile journey, Izzard battled against pain, heat exhaustion, and dehydration. As he told the UK’s Guardian, “It’s tough fighting boredom; when I get very hot and tired, my brain doesn’t work right.
“How do I prepare? It’s about building confidence. I wasn’t very good at the start, but I gradually got stronger. That’s what human beings do. I’m quite ordinary like that, but my determination is good.”
Izzard raised over a million pounds for the Sport Relief charity and hopes his accomplishment will inspire others to take on their own personal challenges.
“I like doing these things that break the humdrum,” Izzard has said. “I’d love for people to be inspired to go out there for themselves. That inspires me.”