Why I’m Running 100 Miles

In just over three months I’ll be running my first ever 100-mile race, the Lady Anne’s Way 100 in Yorkshire, England.

Why am I running 100 miles?

I’ve been asked this question too many times to count.

I’m not 100% sure myself, so this article is as much a chance to let myself in on the answer as it is to let you know.

WHY I'M RUNNING 100 MILES

A quick list

Whenever I need to work something out, I make a list. They are a great way to unravel scrambled ideas.

So with the prompt, ‘Why am I running 100 miles?‘, I wrote this list:

  • I like running (most of the time).
  • I like the feeling of being super duper healthy and fit and the feeling of being broken after a massive run.
  • I like having a hobby. It brings me a lot of fulfilment and makes me feel like I’m doing something just for myself. Taking time just for me.
  • I think that there is a lurking existentialist aspect.
  • It makes me proud of myself.
  • It’s better than doing drugs.
  • I want to feel as alive as I can while I’m alive.
  • I like having an excuse to spend lots of time in nature.
  • I like the lifestyle that goes along with running far.

Writing this list reminds me of a very similar (albeit simpler) list that I wrote in the notes app of my iPhone 4 when I was 16.

WHY I'M RUNNING 100 MILES

Very sweet. I remember having a peek at this list every time I didn’t want to head out for a run.

My personal favourite goal on this list is number 8. That girl had no idea how high her sights would be just 7 years later. Tangible progress feels so good.

Seeking Discomfort

A few of the reasons listed above could fit into this category.

I don’t mean seeking discomfort in a self-hatred kind of way, but more in a self-exploration kind of way.

I would say that my best experiences life experiences by far have come from me doing things that were outside of my comfort zone.

India was terrifying for 18-year-old Maria, but it’s probably my favourite country I’ve visited.

When it comes to running, I think that my drive to seek discomfort comes from something more primal.

WHY I'M RUNNING 100 MILES

Our bodies weren’t made for the level of comfort so many of us get to indulge in.

We used to run, hunt, be on the move. Our bodies used to be our survival tool.

If I sit around for too long, I feel soft, I get restless.

And the antidotes I have for this restlessness? Well, I can either muffle it by distracting myself; watching something, eating something, buying something, drinking something.

Or I can tune in to my restlessness and use it to run.

The thing is, material comfort does a good job of distracting me, but it doesn’t make me happy for long.

I think there’s something about being out of my comfort zone that makes me genuinely, deep down, happy. Kind of like I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing, and using my body how it’s meant to be used.

WHY I'M RUNNING 100 MILES

Ok, but marathons are uncomfortable?

Why don’t I just run a marathon?

A fair few of my friends have told me that they would be proud of me if I ran a marathon, but that running 100 miles is just weird. I respect their honesty.

What is weird is how much your perspective of distance changes once you start running far.

I used to think that a half marathon was the longest I would ever go. Then, when I was training for my first marathon, I saw it as something so massive that I would just do once, simply so that I could say I had done it.

Even when I signed up for my first ultramarathon, a 100km run (read about it here), I decided to go for the longest distance I thought was humanly possible. That way, if I hated it, I’d have done it, and I’d always have that.

Now I’m sitting here writing about a 100-mile run I have planned.

I know that marathons are uncomfortable. I’ve never really tried to run a fast marathon. Fast isn’t my cup of tea. But I can imagine if you try and run fast they are really, really uncomfortable.

WHY I'M RUNNING 100 MILES

I’m addicted?

But there’s something about the specific mind/body discomfort of running far that is so moreish.

When you’re at the end of a long day on the trails and you feel physically empty and brain dead.

The longer I’ve gone, the longer I’ve wanted to go. The more my body adapts to running far, the further I have to run. The bar keeps being raised.

Am I a running addict?

A search for the unknown

Back to that first list now and I think I need to unpack the ‘lurking existentialism‘.

It seems like behind my drive to run 100 miles is a big fat question mark- the unknown.

How hard can it really be? What does it feel like to be that physically and mentally drained? What will I learn about myself? Can I even do it?

WHY I'M RUNNING 100 MILES

It also seems like behind life itself there is a big fat question mark. Why the f*** are we here?

I’m not saying that running 100 miles will deliver the meaning of life right into my lap, but there is something about playing at the fringes of your mind that makes you feel a little closer to an answer.

Maybe it just makes you feel more alive. 

Running makes me feel alive. Not on every run I go on, sometimes I feel dead, but on most runs I feel alive, even if it’s just for a few seconds.

Running plonks my mind in my body and my body in nature.

When I’m moving for hours through trails and mountains, my heart palpably pumping blood around my body, my brain thinking freely (or even better- not thinking), that’s when I feel most myself and most awake to the world.

WHY I'M RUNNING 100 MILES

It’s fun (I swear)

Looking back I’ve realised that my previous section headers all sound quite negative- discomfort, addiction, the unknown

But I’m now a few months into my 100-mile training and I just want to highlight that it’s not all hard. It’s quite joyful actually.

It’s so fun that I think I’m partly running 100 miles for selfish reasons.

Putting time aside for yourself most days is pretty luxurious. I do like running after all.

I love spending time in nature, I love eating lots and lots, I love feeling my body and mind grow stronger.

What running 100 miles gives me is an excuse to spend time having fun. It’s an investment in my happiness. I don’t think enough people take enough time for themselves.

WHY I'M RUNNING 100 MILES

I like the lifestyle

I also don’t think it’s all about the end goal- the 100 miles. It’s also about the life changes you have to make along the way.

I partly got into running far because I needed something big enough to drag me out of unhealthy habits that I fell into whilst at uni- lots of fiesta, not enough siesta.

I’ve since worked out that I’m a big fan of a simple life, something I’ve found that I’ve had to adopt if I don’t want to burn out completely when training for 100 miles.

Running that far is just tough on your body. So you’ve got to support yourself in all other aspects- eating right, sleeping lots, resting, doing lots of yoga.

I genuinely sleep 10 hours a night, every night.

I’ve also traded in seeing the sunrise after a rave for seeing the sunrise with a cup of tea in the morning.

Both are fun, but my heart is happier now.

WHY I'M RUNNING 100 MILES

It makes me better at life

I think of running as condensed life.

It’s not uncommon to feel most of the range of human experience within one run.

I can easily go from demotivated, bored, hyped up, hurting, happy and calm all within a short run.

Being able to go through all that in a very controlled environment has made me better at managing the emotional roller coaster that is life when it really counts.

There’s a lot to be said about the profundity of a bonk passing- they always do!

And dragging myself out the door when I really don’t feel like it makes me better at getting out of bed when I don’t feel like it, or doing my work when I’m not in the mood.

Also, the knowledge that I’m going to be running 100 miles makes me feel a little bit invincible.

WHY I'M RUNNING 100 MILES

Your go!

Have my 100-mile rambles inspired you to take on your own ultramarathon adventure?!

If you’d like to, but you’re doubtful of whether you can, I’m a firm believer that you can.

If you can do week 1 of a beginners training plan, you can do the whole thing- I promise!

Check out our collection of free ultramarathon plans (with 100-mile training plans at the end)…

50k ULTRAMARATHON TRAINING PLANS

Why I'm Running 100 Miles 1

50k Ultra Training Plan – Just Finish

This 50k Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are simply looking to comfortably complete their event.

With 6 months to prepare, we focus on very gradually increasing the weekly mileage at a manageable rate, so you don’t end up burning out.

Ideally you should be able to run 3-5 miles without stopping before you begin this plan, but you can choose to adopt a run/walk strategy too!

Who is it for?:  First-time ultramarathon runners, runners who want to complete an ultra with limited time to train each week, runners who just want to focus on comfortably reaching the finish line.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  If your only objective is to complete your ultramarathon comfortably, and you have six months (or more) to prepare, this is the plan for you!

The plan includes some optional speed work, but this is only if you’re comfortable and can squeeze it in – the objective is to get the required mileage in.   It includes 3 mid-week runs, to be performed at a comfortable pace, and one long-slow run each weekend to build your max mileage.   The plan includes one cross-training day per week and two rest days. 

Why I'm Running 100 Miles 2

50k Ultra Training Plan – Improver

This 50k Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are simply looking to comfortably complete their event.

With 6 months to prepare, we focus on very gradually increasing the weekly mileage at a manageable rate, so you don’t end up burning out.

Ideally you should be able to run 3-5 miles without stopping before you begin this plan, but you can choose to adopt a run/walk strategy too!

Who is it for?:  First-time ultramarathon runners, runners who want to complete an ultra with limited time to train each week, runners who just want to focus on comfortably reaching the finish line.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  If your only objective is to complete your ultramarathon comfortably, and you have six months (or more) to prepare, this is the plan for you!

The plan includes some optional speed work, but this is only if you’re comfortable and can squeeze it in – the objective is to get the required mileage in.   It includes 3 mid-week runs, to be performed at a comfortable pace, and one long-slow run each weekend to build your max mileage.   The plan includes one cross-training day per week and two rest days. 

Why I'm Running 100 Miles 3

50k Ultra Training Plan – Compete

This 50k Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are simply looking to comfortably complete their event.

With 6 months to prepare, we focus on very gradually increasing the weekly mileage at a manageable rate, so you don’t end up burning out.

Ideally you should be able to run 3-5 miles without stopping before you begin this plan, but you can choose to adopt a run/walk strategy too!

Who is it for?:  First-time ultramarathon runners, runners who want to complete an ultra with limited time to train each week, runners who just want to focus on comfortably reaching the finish line.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  If your only objective is to complete your ultramarathon comfortably, and you have six months (or more) to prepare, this is the plan for you!

The plan includes some optional speed work, but this is only if you’re comfortable and can squeeze it in – the objective is to get the required mileage in.   It includes 3 mid-week runs, to be performed at a comfortable pace, and one long-slow run each weekend to build your max mileage.   The plan includes one cross-training day per week and two rest days. 

50 MILE ULTRAMARATHON TRAINING PLANS

Why I'm Running 100 Miles 4

50 Mile Ultra Training Plan – Just Finish

This 50 Mile Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are simply looking to comfortably complete their event.

With 6 months to prepare, we focus on very gradually increasing the weekly mileage at a manageable rate, so you don’t end up burning out.

Ideally you should be able to run 3-5 miles without stopping before you begin this plan, but you can choose to adopt a run/walk strategy too!

Who is it for?:  First-time ultramarathon runners, runners who want to complete an ultra with limited time to train each week, runners who just want to focus on comfortably reaching the finish line.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  If your only objective is to complete your ultramarathon comfortably, and you have six months (or more) to prepare, this is the plan for you!

The plan includes some optional speed work, but this is only if you’re comfortable and can squeeze it in – the objective is to get the required mileage in.   It includes 3 mid-week runs, to be performed at a comfortable pace, and one long-slow run each weekend to build your max mileage.   The plan includes one cross-training day per week and two rest days. 

Why I'm Running 100 Miles 5

50 Mile Ultra Training Plan – Improver

This 50 Mile Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are looking to challenge themselves – perhaps to set a new PR, or simply to run their best race.

Designed to be run over 6 months, the plan features one speed day per week, and more mileage than the ‘Just Finish’ plan – so you’ll have a stronger base and better running economy.

Who is it for?: Established runners who want to challenge themselves, and perhaps set a new PR. If you’ve already run a distance event such as a marathon and want to improve your performance, check out these training plans.  

Our Improver training plans balance training and miles with rest days and (optional) speed work; only include the speed work if you want to improve your base running speed.

If you’ve got some distance running experience, and want to push yourself a little, this is the training plan for you.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  

Why I'm Running 100 Miles 6

50 Mile Ultra Training Plan – Compete

This Compete 50 Mile Ultramarathon training plan is for experienced runners looking to push themselves!

It features six days of training per week, including two days of speed work, long runs, and recovery runs (which get gradually longer in length).

Who is it for?: Experienced runners who want to set a new PR and perform well competitively.  

If you’re planning to race and gain a good position, this is the plan for you. Our Compete plans feature the most intense training regimes – there’s a lot of miles in there, different challenging workouts (speed-work), and typically only one rest day per week.

You should only attempt the Compete plan if you are starting from a solid running base, and have the time commitment and drive to really challenge yourself.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  

100K ULTRAMARATHON TRAINING PLANS

Why I'm Running 100 Miles 7

100k Ultra Training Plan – Just Finish

This 100k Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are simply looking to comfortably complete their event.

With 6 months to prepare, we focus on very gradually increasing the weekly mileage at a manageable rate, so you don’t end up burning out.

Ideally you should be able to run 3-5 miles without stopping before you begin this plan, but you can choose to adopt a run/walk strategy too!

Who is it for?:  First-time ultramarathon runners, runners who want to complete an ultra with limited time to train each week, runners who just want to focus on comfortably reaching the finish line.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  If your only objective is to complete your ultramarathon comfortably, and you have six months (or more) to prepare, this is the plan for you!

The plan includes some optional speed work, but this is only if you’re comfortable and can squeeze it in – the objective is to get the required mileage in.   It includes 3 mid-week runs, to be performed at a comfortable pace, and one long-slow run each weekend to build your max mileage.   The plan includes one cross-training day per week and two rest days. 

Why I'm Running 100 Miles 8

100k Ultra Training Plan – Improver

This 100k Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are looking to challenge themselves – perhaps to set a new PR, or simply to run their best race.

Designed to be run over 6 months, the plan features one speed day per week, and more mileage than the ‘Just Finish’ plan – so you’ll have a stronger base and better running economy.

Who is it for?: Established runners who want to challenge themselves, and perhaps set a new PR. If you’ve already run a distance event such as a marathon and want to improve your performance, check out these training plans.  

Our Improver training plans balance training and miles with rest days and (optional) speed work; only include the speed work if you want to improve your base running speed.

If you’ve got some distance running experience, and want to push yourself a little, this is the training plan for you.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  

Why I'm Running 100 Miles 9

100k Ultra Training Plan – Compete

This 100k Ultramarathon training plan is for experienced runners looking to push themselves!

It features six days of training per week, including two days of speed work, long runs, and recovery runs (which get gradually longer in length).

Who is it for?: Experienced runners who want to set a new PR and perform well competitively.   If you’re planning to race and gain a good position, this is the plan for you.

Our Compete plans feature the most intense training regimes – there’s a lot of miles in there, different challenging workouts (speed-work), and typically only one rest day per week.

You should only attempt the Compete plan if you are starting from a solid running base, and have the time commitment and drive to really challenge yourself.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  

100 MILE ULTRAMARATHON TRAINING PLANS

Why I'm Running 100 Miles 10

100 Mile Ultra Training Plan – Just Finish

This 100 Mile Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are simply looking to comfortably complete their event.

With 6 months to prepare, we focus on very gradually increasing the weekly mileage at a manageable rate, so you don’t end up burning out.

Ideally you should be able to run 3-5 miles without stopping before you begin this plan, but you can choose to adopt a run/walk strategy too!

Who is it for?:  First-time ultramarathon runners, runners who want to complete an ultra with limited time to train each week, runners who just want to focus on comfortably reaching the finish line.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  If your only objective is to complete your ultramarathon comfortably, and you have six months (or more) to prepare, this is the plan for you!

The plan includes some optional speed work, but this is only if you’re comfortable and can squeeze it in – the objective is to get the required mileage in.   It includes 3 mid-week runs, to be performed at a comfortable pace, and one long-slow run each weekend to build your max mileage.   The plan includes one cross-training day per week and two rest days. 

Why I'm Running 100 Miles 11

100 Mile Ultra Training Plan – Improver

This 100 Mile Ultramarathon training plan is designed for runners who are looking to challenge themselves – perhaps to set a new PR, or simply to run their best race.

Designed to be run over 6 months, the plan features one speed day per week, and more mileage than the ‘Just Finish’ plan – so you’ll have a stronger base and better running economy.

Who is it for?: Established runners who want to challenge themselves, and perhaps set a new PR.

If you’ve already run a distance event such as a marathon and want to improve your performance, check out these training plans.  

Our Improver training plans balance training and miles with rest days and (optional) speed work; only include the speed work if you want to improve your base running speed.

If you’ve got some distance running experience, and want to push yourself a little, this is the training plan for you.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks. 

Why I'm Running 100 Miles 12

100 Mile Ultra Training Plan – Compete

This 100 Mile Ultramarathon training plan is for experienced runners looking to push themselves!

It features six days of training per week, including two days of speed work, long runs, and recovery runs (which get gradually longer in length).

Who is it for?: Experienced runners who want to set a new PR and perform well competitively.  

If you’re planning to race and gain a good position, this is the plan for you.

Our Compete plans feature the most intense training regimes – there’s a lot of miles in there, different challenging workouts (speed-work), and typically only one rest day per week.

You should only attempt the Compete plan if you are starting from a solid running base, and have the time commitment and drive to really challenge yourself.

How Long?: Six months, or 24 weeks.  

Maria Andrews

Maria Andrews

Maria Andrews is a runner, cyclist, and adventure lover. After recently finishing her Modern Languages degree and her first ultramarathon, she spends her time running around and exploring Europe’s mountains.

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