The Truth about Running a 100 Mile Race: A Psychologists Take

I hear it all. “You’re crazy.” “You’re killing your body.” “You’re going to die.” “You’re an inspiration.” ….and the list goes on! Realistically, the majority of people inquisitively ask questions with the intent to learn and support. I would imagine you are reading this because you have your own questions. Let me answer questions that I hear all the time… and I’ll do so while wearing my psychologist and endurance runner hats! 

Why do people run for 100 Miles? Are you just addicted to running?

It is possible I’m addicted. In fact, let’s say I am? How bad of an addiction is it if I am home from my training runs in time so that my kids have no idea that I just ran 30+ miles? After all, the rule is no matter how far I train in the morning I cannot be grumpy during the day. So, if it’s an addiction I am going to be grateful I am addicted to this! 

I run 100 miles because…. um…. because why the heck would I not? My candid response to such a question is why aren’t you running 100 miles? 100 mile races are ran typically (well the one’s I most prefer) on dirt trails in the middle of the most beautiful mountains surrounded by incredible landscape and animals of different kinds. Running 100 miles is like hiking on steroids. You get to see soooo much in a short amount of time! 

From a psychologists perspective… I run 100 miles because when I run I feel freedom and control. Control??? You might ask if I am a control freak? Um, nope! In life, control is what we are ALL searching for. We all want to at least feel like something is in control. We get depressed or anxious and it is because we feel like things are out of our control (sure, there is a lot more to it than that but control is a huge part). So, how does running  100 miles give me control? It actually makes you give away most all control in the process but when finished I feel like I can be faced with any challenge and overcome whatever is thrown at me in life. Thus, feeling like I can face life challenges in a more confident and competent manner gives me a sense of control in life. Isn’t it interesting how letting go completely of control and being vulnerable can lead to a greater sense of control? 

Doesn’t it Hurt?

Yes. It hurts. And your point is? It doesn’t injure me though. In fact, I have not missed a scheduled day of running over the past 4 years due to a running induced injury. 

From a psychologists perspective… learning to not avoid pain is key to working with physical pain in life. So, experiencing some pain while running far actually helps me not avoid pain when it comes in other areas of life. Instead, I fully accept whatever pain as an indicator that something is going on and not the end of the world. 


Running that Far Ruins Your Knees, Don’t You Know That?

That is a cop out. Seriously, don’t ever ask me that. This kind of a question makes me want to vomit. That’s my answer. 🙂 Frankly, there is no research that I’ve seen that says we weren’t built, as humans, to run and move. So if that is so then why would it be bad to do what we were built to do. 

I hear from my friends who are medical doctors and surgeons that they see people with knee problems and its because of running. Yeah, they don’t have me convinced. There is a thing called “extraneous variables.” If you can cut out all other reasons (i.e. bad running form, arthritis, stupid shoes, torn ligaments, and so much more) and there is still a knee issue then maybe I’ll believe you. But if it’s so bad then why do I see see 60 and 70 year old running friends out on the trails. Maybe you’re running on the wrong surface… dirt won’t hurt! Most of my friends who have been running for years and actually have a good medical doc who knows what they’re saying will tell them their running has strengthened their knees. 

From a psychologists perspective… we all look for excuses. Instead, look for excuses as to why something might be good for you before throwing in the towel. 

Do You Sleep?

Not that I know of. 🙂 Seriously, I am sure I drift in and out of 1st stages of sleep. However, some of my friends will actually lay down and sleep for a bit. 

From a psychologist perspective…. Um… yeah I don’t know that I sleep. My honest thought is that we are a people full of all kinds of sleep problems. I sleep like a rock several nights a week and I figure it won’t harm me to miss a night of sleep a few times a year. The only side effect I really experience while not sleeping for the night of a race is temporary psychosis. Sure, I have seen turtles in the mountains and gnomes in the forest. But I don’t find that as a problem. It makes for an odd experience is all. 






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