The Reason People Run Ridiculous Distances Has Little to Do With Physical Fitness

A great article on the mental aspect of long distance running.


“The ultramarathoner, as Science of Us has noted before, is a special sort of person. Generally, when people think about running and intensity, the two seem to follow a pretty correlated path: The more one runs, the more intense one must be. Running a 10K? Pretty low-key. A half? Not too bad. A marathon? Whoa, now we’re getting into intense territory. And ultramarathoners — those badass runners tackling distances that exceed the 26.2 of marathons, sometimes up to or more than 50 or 100 miles? Clearly, ultramarathoners are the most intense, gritty individuals.

What is the point, the uninitiated may wonder, of all that running? While most people associate running with physical fitness, many ultramarathoners argue that the reason they run isn’t to get muscles or maintain cardiac health. Instead, as Quartz reports this week, it’s to attain some sense of “flow,” that nebulous term that’s associated with that other very fuzzy concept runners toss around, “runner’s high.”