RUNNING BEYOND THE MARATHON 

Besides making a habit of your running, discovering how to train for running 100 miles, how to avoid being over-trained and under-recovered, how when it comes to nutrition, less is more, and best in liquid form, and knowing the difference between being hurt, or being tired and aching, and how so much of running is in your mind, there are other things you learn when running beyond the marathon distance.  

There are countless articles available on all of the above items, by knowledgeable men and women with much more experience than I have. For the most part they revolve around common sense. Here are few things I discovered. 

Training for these distances take a lot of time. Many hours a week. Whether you’ve been running for years, or just starting. If shortcuts are taken, a price will be paid. 

Running events can be in spectacular locales. Sightseeing is best done before, or after, the event. Of course, it’s impossible to not look around while running, but make it quick. The best place for your eyes is where your next footfall is going to be. Even on the street or on flat loop tracks. That curb is just waiting for you to lose focus. On trail runs, roots, rocks, holes, step ups and downs, or that sharp turn on the trail before the cliff, can be disastrous.  

Seems a rock, or pebble, will find its way into your shoe, usually when you are so tired and stiff, and stubborn, that you do not want to stop, as starting up again can be difficult. Shuffling that pebble around in your shoe while running, (or walking,) to a more comfortable location is a real challenge, as you can only move your toes, arch, and heel so much within your shoe. It can take miles, and take your mind off of how bad, or tired you feel. One aggravation replaces the other. For a while. Eventually, it must be removed, but, “Beware the chair.” It is a real danger. 

I learned right away that “girls can run.” It shouldn’t have been such a surprise, but it was, none the less. And most of them could beat me. It was humbling. I began to measure my progress by how well I ran compared to those I became familiar with.  

These days, men and women are very fast, especially in the shorter distances, but in the longer runs, I think women, as a group, do well against the men. In longer races, it isn’t unusual for them to win outright. Steadily, and seeming with less effort, they rack up the miles. I’d heard it said, “They can give birth, how much harder can running a hundred miles be?” They are tough-minded, perhaps innately gifted, to keep going. 

I was also surprised at the different body types that run the longer distances. While slim and trim dominates the shorter distance, this is not so when running long. I was constantly amazed at how physically strong some runners are. Any body type can perform, after you’ve built the endurance to go your distance.  

It becomes a function of the mind. Everyone is tired after a few hours, even the elite, though so much more of the distance is yet to be covered, and it is your mind that gets you to the end. It appeared to me that if you got through the first third of the race, uninjured, or sick, it was likely you would finish.  

Though we will usually say “running”, most of us incorporate walking into our game plan. As the miles add up, walking increases. If you can just keep going steady, you can do the distance in good time. I would take Ibuprofen every few hours to take the edge off of my developing aches. Naproxen would be my go-to after the race.  

Though joyful, it isn’t pretty at the end of a hundred miles. Most of us look like we have been through long deprivation. Faces are drawn, and years have been added in only hours. A weariness reflects the strain the body has endured. It is draining. “Run hard and put up wet,” as they say. I was uncomfortable seeing women looking so stressed.  

This kind of running doesn’t appear to be a thing you would want to do often. Yet, it is. It is an amazing feeling at the finish. One you want to repeat. 

Soon, after the event is over, stiffness and muscle fatigue set in. Blisters now come alive. It’s hard to walk. It’s best to have nothing demanding to have to do. Such as driving, or catching a flight home, or going to work the next day. Having been up all night during the event, and needing to sleep, sleep patterns are messed up for a couple of days. It is easy to be irritable.  

A place to lie down, to enjoy the accomplishment, or deal with disappointment, have a few beers, start eating real food when the appetite comes back, and do nothing for a couple of days is what I wanted. Well, that never happened. Usually, I needed to get home. 

I flew home from Phoenix after my first 100-miler, the Jalloween Jundred. After dropping off the rental car at the airport, my legs had so cramped up that I could only walk backwards. I walked backwards through the airport, to the plane, to my seat. The TSA shoe check is something I will never forget. I could hardly get my shoes off, then on again. A lot of people stared. There is a fine line between laughing and crying. A couple of beers made the flight home tolerable. 

Running is good for you, but it can be taken to extremes. I was always thinking about the next, longer race. Perhaps I was fortunate in that an old injury to my knee resurfaced, effectively ending my few years at running long distance.  


Photo by PEXELS 

Please Share and SUBSCRIBE! Thank you!