rookie ultra runner.

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“You will never possess what you are unwilling to pursue”
– Mike Murdoch

One of the things I’ve always got asked since I first ventured into endurance sport was, why do you do it?

I’m sure you have all heard it before.

I thought I would have fewer questions this year. I only have one A-race and this only involves running.

But people aren’t shy with their questions towards my recent decision to race the Trans-Alpine Run,
a 2 person team race
8 days
8 stages across the alps
4 countries
ca. 250 Km distance
ca. 15.000 Hm

Why do you want to run that long? What is it that makes you put your body through such brutal torture and then keep coming back for more?

The odd thing, however, is that the skeptics never seem to be convinced by my answers.

Sure, I’ll talk about “the challenge” and “testing” oneself.
Sometimes I might say I want to find out what I’m made of and push myself to the limit but none of it is very convincing to those standing on the outside.

Perhaps the best reply I ever conjured up was simply that unless you are a runner/triathlete you can’t possibly understand why people do this.

This is a bit like Mallory’s famous “Because it’s there” response in that it manages to say everything and not very much both at the same time. It’s also pretty much on the money.

Not everything needs to be articulated. Some things just need to be felt at a visceral level.

But despite that (and maybe because I think too much) I thought I’d try and figure out my own reasons for running very long this year.

There are, of course, all the usual points about keeping weight off (and enjoying a guilt-free wine or two), keeping my heart strong, keeping my bones healthy … But you can get all that from any of the three sports we passionately dedicate our time too.

However, for 2013 I chose to run long, so there has to be more to it than that.

So, here are some of my reasons:

1. It’s simple. There’s no complicated equipment required a pair of
shoes and maybe a water bottle/hydration pack. You can run wherever in
the world you happen to be – just head out the door. pretty
important in the year I want to excel academically.

2. Because I can. The time will come one day when knees, hips or
general decrepitude will stop me running. But until then I’ll keep on
clocking up the Ks.

3. It gives me time to think. Running allows your mind to wander without
being interrupted. Some of the best ideas I’ve had have been while on
the hoof.

4. Because I get out into nature. Much of my running I do is outdoors,
surrounded by flora and fauna. Just being outside is an end in itself.

5. I like runners/triathletes. Generally speaking, they are nice people to
hang around with. They have a positive outlook and tend not to whinge
too much.

6. I like myself better when I run, my husband and colleagues
would agree.

7. It makes me feel like a kid again. Remember when you used to run
everywhere just for the sheer joy of it? There was never any reason to
stop just because you “grew up”.

8. Discipline. It’s old-fashioned, I know, but we need some discipline and
routine in our lives.
I take pride in my early morning running accomplishments.

9. Because it’s fun, especially on those rare days when the world seems to
spin under your feet and everything is effortless.

10. Because those diamond days come around only occasionally and often
it’s bloody hard work. The ability to suffer and suck up pain is much
underrated in our comfortable modern world.

And so training for the Trans-Alpine Ultra continues…. with the first race this weekend.

Watch this space.