Come to think of it, that’s not really the right question. I don’t want to run a hundred miles. I can’t imagine anyone actually wants to run that far. But I’m choosing to. It’s going to be hard work. I fully expect to be miserable for swathes of the race. So why sign up for a 100 mile race?
To really understand, we need to reflect on what’s come before…
The concept of running 100 miles non-stop sounds truly bizarre to most people. It would have done to me back in 2009 after running my first marathon. There I was, lining up in Paris with friends (old and new) about to run my first full distance marathon. I thought I had trained well, I’d figured out my nutrition strategy and I had a target time of 3:30. Easy.
Not quite, the first half went brilliantly well… this is where those of who you have run a marathon can be forgiven for unfurling a wry smile.
The second half went less well. 2 minutes a mile less well to be precise. My nutrition plan fell away when I realised that the Powerade promised by the organisers (and which I had intentionally trained with to prepare) was only provided after about mile 17, by which point I was burned out. In the end I crossed the line a few minutes under 4 hours. Still thoroughly proud of myself, don’t get me wrong, but feeling humbled by the distance, and not for the last time I can tell you.
In the days after, my quads were so tight and sore walking around Paris that I chose to walk down stairs backwards when out and about to ease the pain. It still brings a smile to my face when I remember that.
So traumatic was the aftermath that it took a full 4 years until I forgot about it enough to do another. Since then I’ve done somewhere between 10 and 20. I’m not precise because I don’t remember them fastidiously and because I include training runs over 26.2 miles – perhaps I shouldn’t, but then why go to all that effort if it doesn’t count for something!
Fast forward to 2017 and I had a go at my first 100km race – an incredible race along the Thames from Putney (South West London) to Henley-on-Thames (Oxfordshire). Even there, I was astonished to be running alongside people who were using that event to train for a 100 mile race coming up. I felt well and truly put in my place. But it also planted a seed that has taken a few years to cultivate, but now it’s time to harvest!
So back to the question at hand, why
do I want sign up for a 100 mile race?
In simple terms:
- To see if I can – I like to push myself in events to try to find my breaking point. I continue to be amazed at the human body and mind, but in my view they need to be under stress to see what they’re capable of.
- To give my training a clear focus – I like having something to work towards. I derive pleasure in devoting a part of myself to a challenge like this and meeting other like-minded souls to discuss it for hours on end.
- To satisfy my sense of adventure – I have fond memories of running around a lot as a kid, playing tag, hide-and-seek, making dens in woods, all the good things that kids can do outside. This is the adult version of that. In my head anyway.
There’s perhaps one final point playing on my mind which is to try to inspire others to do push their own boundaries, in the way that others have inspired me. My two children are too young now to really grasp what I’ll be doing but that’s one of the reasons for writing this blog. I hope in time to show them that you can achieve great things if you are prepared to give them a try. And if you fail, you do it knowing you gave it your best shot.