by Joshua Holmes, Founder of Run It Fast and Ultramarathoner
I used to say that running was my therapy. It was a quick response, but it wasn’t an exactly unique answer when I was asked, “So why do you run so far?”
Then I started running farther and farther. After about fifteen marathons, I decided to run an ultramarathon even though I didn’t know what that word meant. I simply wanted to see if I could run beyond 26.2 miles.
In my world up to that point, I didn’t know anyone who had ever done run more than a marathon. So I went to Wartrace, Tennessee to run the Strolling Jim 40 Miler and finished it.
Afterwards, as I reflected, I began to wonder what was truly possible. How far could I run?
I followed my first ultra by running a 10 hour timed event around a 1/2 mile horse track and came in third place. Naturally, after that I knocked off a 50 miler and a 100 miler down in Texas shortly after that where I scraped by with a next to last place finish right before the 30-hour cutoff.
So at that point I had tested my limits to the max, right? Many would have thought so, and I am sure I thought so at least for a couple weeks. However, I decided to sign up to run the Vol State 500K next. I had no clue what I was doing signing up for that race. The race starts in Missouri and finishes in Georgia 314 miles later. If you look at a map you can see that the race crosses the Mississippi River, Tennessee River twice, and goes through a total of 5 states. I finished this race as well, not once, but three consecutive years.
I learned that my reflections become more introspective the longer I ran.
It got to the point when I’d respond with my “running is my therapy” response that I started to see the other person look at me funny, and I could tell they were thinking, “This dude must be really messed up to need this much (running) therapy.” So I eventually quit saying it was my therapy. It was really never that in the first place.
Instead running is a natural outlet that helps me reflect. It detoxes my brain, which does have therapeutic value, resets my system, cleanses my outlook on life, and allows me to reflect on what is truly important to me as the miles strip away all the toxins and distractions that can cloud what’s truly important to me in life.