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Being an Ultra Runner: I Don’t Get It

23 Jan , 2015,
Heidi Kumm
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In the weeks before and after my 100 mile race people told me the race would change my life…that I’d walk way from the it a different person with a new perspective on life. I was warned that I’d see my own soul while out on the trail and that I’d have to deal with it, whether I liked it or not. More than once I was told I could not let the reality of my personal life creep up and unhinge me while running. None of this ever happened.

Nearing the Summit of Mt Werner in the first few miles of RRR100 [PC: Paul Nelson Photography]

I’ve heard ultra runners from many different backgrounds talk about how the races change them, forever. That they got out on the trails and faced down demons they didn’t know were lurking in the shadows of their minds. No demons came wandering out during my race. I’m not saying I don’t have demons…I’m just saying they didn’t show up during my 100 miler or during any of my other runs. At least not yet…

I don’t get it. I don’t understand what these runners are talking about.

Maybe it’s because it was my first 100 miler? Maybe I didn’t push myself hard enough? Didn’t train hard enough? Didn’t want it bad enough? Didn’t suffer long enough? Didn’t puke on the side of the trail? Didn’t biff it on muddy trail? Didn’t chafe or blister or bleed? Didn’t battle adverse weather? Maybe I’m just haven’t earned my ultra cred yet?

A fun run at North Table Mountain…in January, gotta love Colorado weather! [PC: @lgsmash]

Maybe I was just cocky and over-confident but I never doubted my ability to cross that 102.5 mile finish line. Once I started that race my only option was to cross the finish line - unless my body truly blew up, which it didn’t…in part because I did everything in my power to avoid that. I never got to a head space where I wanted to give up. Sure, I wanted the 100 miles to be &#$*% over but I didn’t want to give up [and I have given up before…Dirty Thirty showed me that misery].

I didn’t walk away feeling like a changed person — instead I walked right back into real life where the 100 mile race was just an excuse for a few more hours of sleep and an extra 800 calories each day. I ran 100 miles, now it’s time to go back to work, to pay my bills, to do my laundry.

Am I doing this wrong?

I have watched videos and read snippets of many people talking about their life changing ultra experiences and all I can think is…that’s not me. I can’t relate to that. If that’s what it takes to be an ultra runner then I’m not an ultra runner. I am just a runner that doesn’t stop at 26.2 miles. And, truthfully, I am completely okay with that. I have fun being this person, I mean, she’s kind of awesome, IMHO.

…so awesome she makes a complete fool of herself while picking up other people’s dog poop bags. #trailkarmaFTW [PC: @mtnsandmiles]

I’m okay with being “just a runner”. I just run, because running is fun…and because my body + mind let me. And sometimes I sign up for races just to see how far my body will let my  mind take me when I’ve put money + ego on the line. That’s why Arizona 200M is happening – I’m not chasing demons or seeking out misery, I’m after that exhilarating sense of accomplishment that comes the instant you cross the finish line!


  1. Sara @ Running in Pink January 25, 2015 at 6:11 pm Reply

    First of all, amazing congrats on running 100 miles because that is something I could never imagine doing. 26.2 is just enough for me {I say that now, I always eat my words so we’ll see…}. Second, I think it’s kind of funny the other comments you’ve gotten from other ultra runners about how the experiences was “life changing” and all that. I can definitely see that happening when you’re on your feet for that long but I don’t think it makes you any less bad ass. It probably just means you are more awesome.

    • Heidi Nicole January 26, 2015 at 4:21 pm Reply

      Words like that were made for eating! Enjoy the 26.2, it’s a beast of its own! And thank you so much for the kind words! 🙂

  2. Natalie @ Free Range Human January 26, 2015 at 9:45 am Reply

    I think she’s kind of awesome too 🙂

    • Heidi Nicole January 26, 2015 at 4:21 pm Reply

      Awww…thank you! I should go book a flight or something! ;P

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