Entry # 3

Running 100 Miles

Luke harper

If you told me a year ago that I would sign up for a 50-mile trail race I would have probably laughed at you.

 

Racing anything over 1 mile was a mental struggle for me and after my first half marathon in 2017, I immediately said to myself, "I do not want to run anything further than that again!" Being out there for that long was mentally and emotionally taxing in a way I had never experienced.  If it was not for my ego and the fact that I never dropped out of a race I probably would have stopped and squandered an opportunity to go beyond my expectations.

 

Here we are, a few years later in 2019 and I have completed my first Ultra Marathon.

 

So, what led me to do 50 miles? Well, originally all I wanted was to increase my aerobic capacity with the goal of running faster in the mile. After researching training methods to get faster I came across the Maffetone method. I won't go over all the details in this post but in short, it is training with heart rate. By training with heart rate, I am able to focus more on the quality of training and recovery after workouts.

 

I used to hold the simple mindset that the best way to get faster is to run fast; a mindset that leads to oversimplification, injuries, and burning out. While running faster has its place in a proper training regiment it should not be the main focus when looking to build up endurance. I quickly realized the miles I was logging were useless; my paces were too fast for my body to become more effective in bringing oxygen into the working muscles and I was running too slow for it to be considered a workout. As was expected, nagging injuries took me away from the sport that I love for significant amounts of time.

 

After taking a painful 2 years off from running, I decided to give it another go but with a different approach to training. Since making the change to "heart rate training" I have been able to increase my weekly mileage, run more consistently, and see results while keeping my body healthy enough to handle the workload. I feel stronger; paces that once required much more effort feel like a walk in the park. My mind has changed as well. Eight miles seems short and my standard 15 miles is my everyday grind. I started not to mind spending that much time on my feet and in fact, I look forward to it! Running with heart rate is much more meditative and rhythmic than the other training methods I have tried and that has reminded me of why I enjoy running in the first place. Running allows me to be in the present moment where thoughts, actions, and intentions are reflected in what we call our reality and I receive a sense of peace and clarity. 


It was amazing to see my potential unfold in front of me with this newfound training method. Soon I decided to see what my mind and body were made of and sought to test the limits. I became intrigued about my potential in the longer distances and my attention turned to the Ultrarunning community. I once thought running anything over 13.1 miles was crazy but signing up for my first Ultra felt like the right thing to do.

 

Fast forward to the day of my first 50-mile race. What can I say about that day? There is enough to write about that day where another blog entry will definitely hold a more detailed summary of the race. But overall, it was good, but not great. It was a good day because I actually finished a 50-mile race; I placed 3rd in my age group and top 10 in the race. I was hoping to run a certain time and unfortunately, I fell short. Around mile 30 my legs cramped up. I had to walk/run the last 20 miles while trying to stuff calories into a nauseous body. There is always a tendency to compare your race to others; constantly judging yourself and comparing it to others will only prevent you from achieving your goals. When I look at the race in a way where I am not comparing results to others I am excited about the effort I put out. That is why I was out there, to explore my potential, test my limits, and then break them.

 

We all have the ability to accomplish great things, to finish what we started, and to achieve anything we put our mind to. However, somewhere along the way, we stopped believing in ourselves and our potential. We started listening to the voices of others saying that it is impossible or we are not good enough. Running 50 miles was my way of taking that power back! The power to explore my potential and to use experiences to grow and develop and not stay stagnant because of fear.

 

I have already signed up for a 100-mile race in October 2019. 

 

Explore your potential

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