Is Running 100 Miles Enough?

As I’ve been training for the Badger Mountain Challenge this Friday I’ve had a lot of time to think about really obvious questions like:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • Why would anyone do this?
  • Am I stupid for doing this?
  • Just how stupid am I for doing this?

But the question I’ve really been interested in lately:

  • Is 100 miles enough?

You see – I have a bit of an addiction to running and like any addict I’m always looking for the next high – as reflected in my blog name and twitter handle – whatsnextmatt. But as the challenges get bigger and the PRs take more and more training to reach, I find myself looking for a way to be satisfied instead of always looking for more. I wonder if I can do that one race or reach that one goal that will calm the beast inside and stop the quest for more and more.

I’m sure that my wife would love for me to find that place as well – especially with #4 due in a few months and some other big life changes potentially looming.

My Conclusion

As I’ve thought about it I’ve realized that 100 miles will totally be enough.

It’s the old addiction treatment where you indulge so much in your addiction that you get sick of it and break free. I’m sure it will work. I’ll finish that magical 100 mile barrier and feel like I’ve arrived. I’ve completed all the goals I want to complete. I will now have a positive relationship to running and I’ll be satisfied with 15 miles a week to be healthy and finishing 5ks in the middle of the pack. I won’t look at every new mountain I see and think about how hard it will be to run up. I won’t secretly research the best running spots as soon as we decide where our next vacation will be or my next work trip is planned.

Instead I’ll spend more time with my children being a better Dad. I’ll spend a little more time in the office and become a better manager. I’ll serve more at Church and help others with a happy heart instead of thinking about the adventures I’m missing out on. I’m sure I’ll be much happier with this newfound maturity.

My Real Conclusion

Enough is not an amount. The definition of enough and finding satisfaction is all about expectations and deciding on what you need to find peace. No matter how far I run or how amazing the view is from the next mountain summit I’ll never find enough out there. If I want to find peace I have to find it between my own ears and in my heart.

Do I really think that my running is preventing me from being a good dad, crippling my career, or preventing me from being a good member of my church? No. I know that running has huge benefits for me in all those areas. I have some of my best ideas on the run and it’s incredibly therapeutic to deal with the stresses of life. It has taught me irreplaceable lessons about discipline, improvement, and dealing with adversity. It’s strengthened my body and improved my health. I love how the training has enabled me to see things and do things that I would never be able to do without the fitness and skills I’ve gained. It was amazing to be able to wake up at the Grand Canyon in the morning and run to the bottom and back up before lunch.


Where Do I Go From Here?

If the answer is in my head and in my heart – how do I find what I’m looking for? The fact that I’m pondering this so much is evidence that I feel like something needs to change. I do need to find some moderation. At the very least I need to have more healthy expectations around what running means to my life and be deliberate about what my goals are. I need to stop chasing after something I’ll never catch and instead figure out some better reasons for doing what I do. If that changes the amount I run or the challenges I decide to take on – that’s great. I know that I will be doing it because it’s valuable to me and not just because it’s bigger than the last goal and might be the event where I finally find enough.

So what are these better reasons for doing what I’m doing? What is this hidden knowledge that will bring me peace? How will I grow up and take a mature perspective on this consuming sport? I’m not sure. But I’ll have about 24 hours to figure it out this weekend during the race. Maybe I’ll have more to share then.


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