Friday, September 17, 2010

BInary Stars...and Ultrarunning

(Image credit here)

I posted this in discussing my long training runs in prep for the Umstead 100 Mile Endurance Race, and have added emphasis:

Also I should say that this winter in southern PA was quite harsh compared to the fairly mild winters we’ve had the past several years. So getting out there for these long runs in the dead of winter, often pre-dawn, was rough. At the end of these long runs I was about done in, although I often think that our bodies are programmed to run the prescribed distance and then mentally shut down.

Want to explore that notion a bit more. This phenomenon has happened to me more times than I can count—having committed to some manner of “long” run (whatever that means at the time)—I often find that when I finish, I am just about in the bag. At that point I cannot imagine being able to run any further.

It’s just like when you prepay cash at the gas station and the pump automatically starts slowing down and then shuts down at the preset amount.

When this happens, I usually think something like “Oh, crap—I’m in the bag at 30 miles. How can I ever think about running 50? Or 100? WTF??”  But then I think, be cool, been here before, this is nothing new.

Because come race day I can do the distance and I can truthfully say that I’ve never been involved in a race day death march where I vastly underestimated my reach and I struggle just to finish.

Seems like the distance planned and the distance run are self-fulfilling prophesies, mutually synched up like a pair of binary stars.

Anybody else experience this phenomenon?


  1. Yes. I have noticed that when I run say 6.5 miles one day I end up thinking how the heck can I run 13 tomorrow? Then I run 13 the next day. It occurred to me that I almost always run the distance I plan, I usually never stop short. But I also never go longer!