The first thing that anyone says when they hear that I’m planning on running 100 kilometres is, “you’re crazy!” Endurance running is never as glamorous as a ten second dash around a stadium but people everywhere still aspire to take part in fun runs, half marathons and marathons. Take for example the Canberra Times Fun Run held a couple weeks ago. Almost 6000 people took part in three distances (five, ten and 14 kilometres) and there were more finishers for the 14km race than there were for the five.
As you read this, my 100-kilometre lap of Canberra will have been completed and I will hopefully not be too damaged from the experience.
While I understand that people are initially unbelieving when they hear what I am planning, I think it’s time I pointed out a few facts about endurance events to put their minds at rest.
First of all, humans are good at doing physical exercise for long periods of time. Until very recently, most people led physically active lives, always on their feet and working to feed themselves and improve their lives. Many people still live this way in the developing world, but in our position of Western comfort, the sedentary lifestyle has become the most common. Nonetheless there is nothing to worry about as with some training, we can get back to that level of fitness.
Secondly, us runners aren’t insane. It’s just that compared to our everyday standards of activity where running for ten hours straight isn’t normal, it seems crazy. However I’ve been training for five months for this, having done more than 800 kilometres to get to my current level of race fitness. Jumping into an all day event like this with no training or preparation would indeed be crazy, but most of us want to survive the experience and come out the other side fully intact.
Thirdly, we have tremendous support. Humans are social creatures, and spending time around like-minded people tends to feel good to us. The community of outdoorsy, running inspired people is big and varied, as can be seen right here at the ANU. It’s no accident that Inward Bound is the most popular of the interhall sports. It’s great fun and everyone involved, in one way or another, gets a real kick out of taking part in the magnificent event.
Finally, don’t ignore the motivation for running in these kinds of events. Challenging yourself to do something you’ve never done before, something bigger and more exciting, that’s a fantastic reason for trying something like this. If I knew for sure that it would be easy and boring, I wouldn’t bother trying it out. The challenge is the unknown factor that makes you want find out if you can.
So, if you’ve ever considered taking part in a marathon, or training for months for something out of the ordinary, take note: you can do it, and there’s no reason to believe the people telling you you can’t.
Adam Huttner-Koros blogs about running at sixtysecondsrun.tumblr.com