What It Takes to Break the 100-Mile Treadmill World Record
An Interview with Taggart VanEtten: The 100-Mile Treadmill World Record Holder & Matrix Ambassador
Taggart VanEtten is a teacher who recently broke the 100-mile treadmill record in 11:32:05 on a Matrix treadmill in Morton, Illinois. When the gym teacher and coach by day, ultra runner by morning and night, connected with Matrix regarding a partnership for his home treadmill training, we couldn’t pass it up.
Not only is Taggart an amazing inspiration to his students and the ultra-running community, he is also the perfect product tester to put out home treadmills to the ultimate test. In just four months on his new T75 Treadmill with XUR console, he has already logged around 1,300 miles on the treadmill. Our engineering team has been working with Taggart to collect data from his treadmill for product testing purposes with a remote monitoring system. Rest assured, he has found the treadmill bulletproof and able to withstand his intense training efforts.
Have you ever wondered what makes elite runners tick and what keeps them motivated? And how could someone run 100 miles on a treadmill, let alone at a record breaking pace?
We had a chance to interview Taggart, our newest Matrix brand ambassador, in hopes of inspiring the rest of us mere mortals to get moving on our treadmills at home this winter.
Matrix: How did you get into running?
Taggart: I got into running my junior year of high school! I needed to get into shape for wrestling season so I started running after school every day. Every day I was running a little faster and farther. Next thing I knew, I was hooked.
Matrix: What is your why? What keeps you motivated?
Taggart: I am pretty internally motivated, I don’t really look for outside factors. I just enjoy pushing my limits. If anything, I’d say the pursuit of time goals in the sport of running is my reason why. Right now I am making a transition from ultra-marathon to strictly marathon training and it feels like a different sport. I have so much room to improve.
Matrix: What are your goals for 2022?
Taggart: My goal for 2022 is to run an Olympic Trials Marathon Qualifying Time, it is 2:18. 5:16 per mile for 26.2 miles. Also, during this year I hope to achieve the Zwift Marathon record, which is 2:19:21. If I am capable of reaching the Olympic Trials B Standard early in the year then I will be shooting for the A Standard this fall.
Matrix: Where do you want to be in five years?
Taggart: In five years, hopefully I will be making a second Olympic Trials experience. I’d like to have a sub 2:15 marathon under my legs. I’d even crack the top 20 at the Chicago Marathon. In my professional life I’d like to be either teaching PE while finishing my masters degree in education leadership or running professionally! Five years is such a long way. If you would've told me when I was 21 I’d be at the level I am now, I’d ask in what reality.
Matrix: What are you most proud of?
Taggart: I am most proud of my 2020 Tunnel Hill 100 Mile performance. I ran 100 miles in 12 hours and 19 minutes. This run was the first time I felt satisfied after a race. Truly, it felt like the years of hard work had paid off.
Matrix: What are some of your other notable running achievements?
Taggart: My best races to date include:
- April 2019 – 1:15 Half Marathon at Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon
- November 2019 – 2:37 Marathon at Indianapolis Marathon
- March 2020 – 1:10 Half Marathon at St. Paddy’s Half Marathon in St. Louis
- November 2020 – 12:19 100-Mile at Tunnel Hill 100
- May 2021 – 11:31 100-Mile Treadmill World Record
- November 2021 – 2:22 Marathon at Indianapolis Marathon
- January 2022 – 30:19 10K (Treadmill Time Trial)
Matrix: How has your running impacted someone else?
Taggart: My running has impacted my closest friends and family. Without them over the years I wouldn’t be near the level I am today. My mom has and continues to make a lot of sacrifices for my athletic endeavors. I couldn’t do it without her.
Matrix: How do you motivate yourself before a hard, daunting workout?
Taggart: Before any hard workout and during the run I just remind myself of the time goal I am working towards. To me, the hard intervals and long tempos are the fun part. Running the day or two days after a hard workout when my legs feel fatigued are the sessions I need to find the most motivation for.
Matrix: What has helped you to stay consistent with your training?
Taggart: Watching other world class professional athletes train day in and day out helped me a few years ago become consistent. Also, with my treadmill I never have an excuse not to run. Big workouts do not win races. Consistency wins races.
Matrix: What does a typical weekly training log look like for you?
Taggart: Nowadays, on a normal week I’m running between 140-150 miles per week. Two of my runs are harder with interval and tempo effort at specific paces. This is on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Plus 5-6 10-minute bodyweight strength sessions. I eat a nutrient dense high carbohydrate diet 90% of the time and 10% of the time I eat cheat foods. Every night I get around 8 hours of sleep, too. If I am feeling extra tight, I am a big fan of the massage gun and rolling my quads out. After a race, you’ll find me wearing compression on my quads/legs and sitting in the ice bath every day.
Matrix: How do you stay motivated and focused when running on a treadmill? Any lessons learned from your 100-mile world record treadmill run?
Taggart: With the treadmill, I’m able to stay focused by just concentrating on the next step. I do not have to worry about any outside factors like weather, traffic, and turning. It’s so simple. Right now, to stay motivated I wrote 2:17:59 on my wall in front of my face. A big lesson from my 100-mile treadmill world record would be that when running on a treadmill, it’s important to take in more fluids, electrolytes and salt than you normally would outside. Unless your treadmill is kept in a 40-degree room with fans facing you from every side, your body’s core temperature and the room’s temperature will heat up quicker. So, when your body and the room get warmer faster, it’s important to replenish those lost supplements and water.
Matrix: What is your favorite thing to watch or listen to while treadmill running?
Taggart: My favorite thing to watch while running is my avatar on Zwift! With my Matrix treadmill, I can watch my Zwift avatar run on the big console screen by connecting my phone through the HDMI port, plus I can connect to Zwift directly through the treadmill’s Bluetooth FTMS. I always listen to music on Spotify, too! Occasionally, I will watch something, but 99% of the time I am using those two apps.
Matrix: What feature do you like most about your Matrix treadmill?
Taggart: My favorite feature is something I’ve never seen before on a treadmill. It is the Last Interval button – you can adjust your speed by hitting the last speed number to jump back quickly. For example, I could be running intervals at 12 mph for 5 minutes, then my recovery is 8 mph for 1 minute. By pressing on the screen I can just hit the number to return to the former speed immediately. It’s so much better than constantly pushing a button up and down. This feature is perfect for interval training, which can normally be tough on a treadmill. I also love the removeable water bottle holders. I hold a lot of messy nutrition like salt tabs and gels in them when I run. I can easily pop the bottle holders out and wash them.
Matrix: Approximately how many miles did you run in 2021 and how many of them were on a treadmill?
Taggart: In 2021, I ran 8,300 miles. I didn’t keep exact track of how many were on the treadmill, but I think 75% of my total mileage was on there. The runs were probably split 60/40. I make sure the bigger of my two runs each day is done on the treadmill.
Matrix: How many miles per week are you planning to run on the treadmill vs. outdoors through the winter months?
Taggart: Through the winter months, I will be running on the treadmill between 80-90% of my runs. Even when the weather warms up I’d say that number will be at 75%. The treadmill keeps me injury-free. So, consistently getting on there to run is vital for my future in sport. As a PE teacher I am on my feet all day and my legs can definitely be different from a road morning run vs. a run on the treadmill. I feel more fresh after a morning treadmill run!
Matrix: What is one lesson you teach your students that you hope they will carry forward throughout life and remember as an adult?
Taggart: One lesson I hope my students can carry for the rest of their life would be to stay active. It doesn’t even have to be running. Just 30 minutes per day of moving your body and working up a sweat is what everyone should strive for. Your body wants to move!
So there you have it – some great inspiration from a treadmill world record holder. While we may not all aspire to run 100 miles on our treadmills, we can all work on Taggart’s “30-minutes-a-day of movement” lesson each and every day.