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I Don’t Like to Run Long Distances

This is an excerpt from Runners on Running by Richard Elliott.

I don’t think anyone, myself included, can just hit the road and run hundreds of miles again and again and not burn out.

Coming from someone who’s done so many ultra events, that may sound surprising. But it’s true. In fact, not liking to run long distances is actually why I’ve been able to run 100-mile races. Along with the necessary physical conditioning, I’ve had to develop mental tools to overcome my inner resistance to running. I do need to run. That doesn’t mean I don’t fight it. So I have to psych myself up.

When I compete in a 100-mile race, for instance, I do it 1 mile at a time. In my own mind, I’m not really running 100 miles. I’m running 1 mile 100 times, which to me, as weird as it may sound, is something very different.

I don’t think about how many miles I still need to go. Instead, I look at a telephone pole or another landmark up ahead and concentrate on running to that point, and then to another point after that. My mind has to engage in all sorts of negotiations with my body—and both are trying to get the best deal they can!

Read more about Runners on Running, edited by Rich Elliott.