Why I Run Too Much

I am often asked why I choose to run so much or so long. There is usually a look of wonderment in their eyes, not the wonderment that one gets when meeting an idol. It’s more of a look of trying to understand the thought concept I have when I decided to run an ultra-marathon. There are many types of individuals who ask this question. A few are the more experienced runners who are wondering if they could do it; you can almost see the wheels turning in their head. Some are new runners, who are genuinely curious. Questions from these people are great, they make me think that maybe what I am doing is inspiring just one person to try and go further. Their questions are generally more in the line of how it’s done, not why.

The ones that bother me are the “why” questions I get in a nearly condescending way. The ones that are almost like the person is trying to watch a train wreck happening. They don’t think that it is possible; as if 26.2 miles is that absolute limit of human endurance. I have noticed something these people who ask me the whys have in common, most of them are people who I would classify as not understanding the fullness that comes with it. The ones who ask are generally either non-runners who would not under stand the running mentality to start with or runners who have yet to truly look for their personal limits.IMG_8726.jpg

We all have that point where we cannot go any further. The truth is that this point is a very personal thing. That point is one of mental exhaustion, where you can go no more. Your brain refuses to allow the body to continue any further. This is a primitive function of our minds that is a form of self protection. Something deep inside your head thinks that any more effort could become dangerous to the body and convinces you that stopping is the best and only option. I am not talking about stopping due to illness or injury, this limit is one that goes deeper. To not look for this limit is selling yourself short. It’s akin to leaving an uncompleted story, an unfinished book if you will.

What may be one person’s limit might be a warm up to the next person. While I believe that everyone can increase that limit with proper physical and mental training, when a person reaches their point, I respect that. No matter if its 5 or 100 kilometers or anything in between, they have pushed themselves and that is an admirable thing. To question someone who is searching for that boundary is to show a lack of understanding of what the true gift of running is, a mental exercise and test of ones will and grit.

The people who are asking why are the ones who have never searched for that limit. We should be asking them why. Why are you not trying to find a bigger goal? Why are you satisfied with what you have done? I have been known to ask people this. When I have, it was to individuals who I knew were capable of more, who I sensed were just scared to step into the unknown. There is a certain amount of fear that comes with finding these limits.

I may find my limit someday, I might find it at the most inopportune time. It may come when I lest expect it. It may come in the middle of a race, while that would be hard to deal with, in the end I would like to think I would have some satisfaction in knowing. On the other hand, I may never find it. I may spend the rest of my time here looking, but I will continuously be looking.  To say that I am not worried a little by the thought of running 100 miles would be a lie. To be honest, I am scared to death, but I refuse to let the fear or any other emotion control me.


Recently, I overheard someone say that they enjoyed trail running, but they didn’t want to risk falling. They were, therefore, going to stick to the roads. My first thought was of the traffic, neighborhood dogs and the falls that I had taken on the road. I also thought of the one time I fell and ended up in a cast, while road running. Yes, trail running can be dangerous, but I am not going to let fear rule me or my enjoyment of the world around me.  I fact, just a couple of weeks later I did take a nasty tumble. A little blood on my shoulder and knee, but all was good.

My pride wasn’t bruised, I fact I came up laughing about it. I should have seen that rock that was jutting up, silly mistake. Those who were behind me were more shook up than I was.

Later in the race, I noticed my left ring finger was bleeding pretty good. I stopped at a bathroom in a nearby campground and rinsed it off. The only way to describe the feeling was that it felt like a little knife in my finger when the water hit it. (Good thing I had bought a Qalo ring the week before.) The important thing was that I was still having fun. There were still 10 miles to go and a little blood wasn’t stopping me from finishing.

I think of scrapes and bruises much the same way that many mountain bikers do, they are trophies.  They show that the prize was earned, the effort was there. People see injuries and naturally ask what happened. “Oh, I was running down this mountain and lost my footing”.  I have notice that the look they give you is the exact same look they will give you when you say that you ran 50k or 50 miles. It’s one of complete amazement, shaking their head.

Truth be told, there is risk in everything we do, its just a question of what risks you feel are acceptable for the end results. There is risk in driving your car to work everyday, there is risk in bicycle riding. Risk all around you, most of the time we choose to ignore it or are completely oblivious to it.

To achieve your greatest potential, you will have to accept some risk. There will be times when you question that risk and those decisions. Fear cannot rule your mind without affecting your body and desire.

I chose to take the risks associated with trail running because the reward of the time on the trail in nature far outweighs the scab on my knee or a swollen ring finger.  Just in case though, I always carry a small first-aid kit in my truck.


Society has experienced an evolution, a redefining of sorts. Our perception of how we connect to the world around us has changed, along with how we interact with others. Somewhere, somehow in all this, we have lost our connection to each other. It seems odd that we now have social media that was intended to bring us closer together, but we are not any closer, we just have more facts about each other.  We have connected with people that we probably have not thought about in many years because their name popped up as a suggested connection.

The odd thing that has happened is that through all of these so called connections, we have truthfully become more distant. Our knowledge of each others lives would appear to be greater, but we are just catching the highlight reels of people’s lives, marriages, children and careers.

Our lives are like a castle; we have walls and moats for security and only allow in those we have chosen to, not everyone we meet. In recent years though, we have torn down the walls of security and we are left only with a moat. All the world can see your trials and triumphs. When we watch someone in this manner, we begin to think that we know them. Much like the characters on a television show, we don’t actually know them, we are only familiar.

A few short years ago, it would be normal to have only a few friends and we would not have had to list them. These friends would be very close, we would know many details of their lives, both good and bad.

Something else that has happened in all of this, we have not only become disconnected from those around us, but also the world around us, the environment. We no longer enjoy nature or it’s beauty. We go on a hike or just to a park and we cannot wait until we get back to our cell signal. If there is a signal, you will find people of all ages sitting around with there heads down, looking at their phones, meanwhile, there is so much to see around them.IMG_6901.jpg

Through our cell phones we now have every piece of information that one could need in the palm of our hand. We have become addicted to information, mostly useless information. I will admit that I am just as guilty as everyone else, but I am learning. I have made a conscious effort to put it down and enjoy the world around me. When I am out on a trail, I will rarely take a photo, especially on training runs. I have succumbed to the trend of “run-fies” and taken a few at some of the more scenic spots I come across. I feel like this is a little different, in the past one might have had a small camera to record a memory.

We must ask ourselves, where is the limit, when should I put the phone down and most importantly, do we truly know a person? How is it that we become an honest friend, not a “Facebook friend”? We can only do this through time spent together and sharing experiences. Screen time will never replace actually being with someone.

Training or racing together can build bonds. I think this is why the running community is usually close in most communities. The people have spent time with each other and had that face to face relationships forged. They haven’t been watching from afar across the moat at you struggle, they have been there struggling with you. Bonds and trust have lowered the draw bridge over the moat.

Social media has it’s place. There are many good things that have come from it. There are even many true friendships that have been made from it, but we must always ask ourselves, are we a real friend to others or a Facebook friend?