50 in 50: How Ashley Horner Is Training to Run 50 Ironman Triathlons in 50 Days
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … Ashley Horner, a new kind of superhero who plans to run 50 Ironman-length triathlons in just 50 days to raise as much money as she can for charity.
Whether you’re training for a 5K, your first marathon, or even an Ironman, the internet is full of tips and tricks to help get you get started with your training. But 50 triathlons in a row? There’s no workout guide for that.
As a personal trainer and fitness guru, Horner already knows a thing or two about self-discipline. In June, she biked 1,350 miles from Virginia to Oklahoma, and in 2017, she ran 230 miles through Haiti in just three days.
Now her goal is to run, bike and swim the Ironman distance for each sport – a 2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bike, followed by a full 26.2-mile marathon – in all 48 continental states plus twice in Haiti, in just 50 days, to raise money for the Maison Fortuné Orphanage Foundation in Haiti. That’s a total of 7,030 miles.
Though Horner is from Virginia Beach, Virginia, she feels a special connection to Haiti, a place she now refers to as home. During her first Haiti run, Horner raised over $64,000, enough to fund the orphanage’s school for two full years. That’s why her triathlon challenge will start and end in Haiti. And this time she hopes to raise $100,000 for the school.
“It’s not about me, it’s about purpose,” she says. “It’s about helping someone know that there’s hope. That’s what brings communities together and makes them stronger. That’s the vision I’m running for."
“It’s not about me, it’s about purpose,” she says. “It’s about helping someone know that there’s hope.
A full 140.6-mile Ironman takes the average participant around 12 hours to complete, but elite triathletes generally finish in under nine hours.
Horner is training for her colossal journey by running, biking and swimming, in addition to strength training three to four times a week. She focuses on pre-fatiguing her legs the day before a long run or bike ride in order to simulate what her body will feel like from the day-after-day triathlons.
“When you’re clipped in on a bike it’s a push-pull, but on steep hills it’s more of a push,” she says. “Running on an incline on the treadmill preps me for the marathon, but also for the biking, because it builds my quads for those mountain climbs.”
The mental preparation is almost as important as the physical. Horner often uses the treadmill during her training – both to simulate hilly terrain, as opposed to the relatively flat Virginia Beach, and to prepare herself emotionally. Her trick? Cover the screen, and use earplugs, not headphones.
“I have to have zero distractions to get in that place where thoughts are going through my head and I have to deal with them, good or bad. I know I’m going to have those thoughts on my long pushes – ‘Why am I doing this? I want to quit’ – so I have to simulate them in my training.”
I have to have zero distractions to get in that place where thoughts are going through my head and I have to deal with them, good or bad.
Horner is no stranger to physical feats in the name of philanthropy. In addition to #AshleyRunsHaiti, her 1,350-mile bike ride from Virginia Beach to Tulsa, Oklahoma, was to honor those who are currently battling or have passed away from cancer.
“I want to use the platform and outreach I have to do something good. When my heart is set on something, a purpose, I can get through almost anything.”
Horner kicks off her trek in Haiti in mid-August, then flies to Florida to start her consecutive 48-state Ironman feats, then goes back to Haiti for the last one.
When my heart is set on something, a purpose, I can get through almost anything.