What I learned while running 120 miles

I recently completed the TransRockies endurance run. This is a stage race where you cover 120 miles and 20K feet of vertical climbing over 6 consecutive days. So you basically get up every day, strap on your trail shoes and go running.

With nearly 27 hours on the trails, the race afforded plenty of time for self reflection. What am I doing with my life? Why am I here? What on earth would cause me to do the type of thing where you have to run in a cold river for half a mile?

Brooks in River

I’m not sure I ever answered the big life questions. Hard to remember. I was pretty tired there towards the end. But I did achieve some insights that can be applied to life. Conveniently presented below on a day by day basis.

Day 1 – People are liars. They claimed Stage 1 was 20.8 miles. My GPS had it closer to 21.5. So someone is lying. Because it happened the first day, I spent the remaining days also disbelieving the distances. As they say, it takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes (or in this case 0.7 miles) to squander it.

Day 2 – When it comes right down to it, you really do need oxygen. At 12,500 feet, there isn’t much of it. Next year I’m climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro which goes to over 19K feet. You spend days acclimatizing. The 1000 people evacuated and 10 people that die each year generally are evacuated due to or die from altitude sickness.  I’d consider this my ‘Maslow’s Hierarchy’ wake up call. Take the bottom of the pyramid seriously.


Day 3 – Pay attention. Everything can be going great, and the next thing you know you’re rolling an ankle at mile 22. Keep your eyes on the path. Focus. Stay in the present moment. All of the above. I was a only a slight turn from ending the entire event because I lost focus. Always true in life.

Day 4 – Getting really drunk is not an effective night before training strategy. This could likely be applied more broadly. Getting really drunk is not an effective strategy for much besides stealing happiness from the following day. This is the hardest lesson I never seem to learn.

Day 5 – Never underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. Ironically, even after stealing all of your happiness by drinking it away, you can replenish all that happiness by just staying off the bottle and getting a good night’s sleep. I think a good night’s sleep is the answer to lots of life’s challenges, self inflicted or not. Sleep more. Like 10 hours.

Day 6 – You can get used to anything. That’s a good thing and a bad thing. In this case, it meant we just got back up on Day 6 and did it again. Another 22+ miles. But I can see the same behavior becoming tolerance for the drudgery of an unrealized life. Make sure the miles you’re running are the ones you want to be running, with great views and inspiring people. Else you’ll wake up one morning and realize you just got used to the slog.

3 thoughts on “What I learned while running 120 miles

  1. Actualization. I never really got that word. Then self actualization. Hmmmm. Somehow it seems related to the kick-in-butt or KIB philosophy, but I can’t quite put it together. But I can certainly go with not rolling your ankle.

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