15 Things You Might Not Know About Finishing a 100-Miler

Susan Donnelly finishing the Javelina Hundred 100-mile race.

Susan Donnelly finishing the Javelina Hundred 100-mile race.

Experienced or first-timer, if running a 100-mile race is on your radar, you might find these helpful.

  1. Respect the distance. Even after finishing 115 of them, I get keep getting reminded that 100 miles is still 100 miles. Respect it enough to train for it and you have a good shot at finishing.

  2. That said, it’s probably easier than you think. Mostly, because your brain will go into overdrive with fear and anxiety. 100-milers will test you but most don’t involve agonizing, I-almost-died situations. And some of it is downright fun.

  3. You don’t have to be physically gifted. Getting it done relies heavily on mindset. Those with the courage and commitment to keep putting one foot in front of the other can get it done.

  4. It doesn’t have to be your best race to finish. Don’t stress about imperfections in your training or race. Perfection doesn’t guarantee a finish. Look at everything you have going for you instead.

  5. Finishing is about problem management. Soooo many problems! Dehydration, injury, stomach upset, blisters, chafing, sleepiness, and combinations thereof. Don’t drama them - solve them.

  6. Desire is better than willpower. Having a strong desire pull you is way easier than pushing your way through with willpower.

  7. It doesn’t always get worse. Pain and low energy periods come and go. You can experience elation at 20 miles and 80, and the depths of despair at 30 and 60. Or vice versa. Just hang in there and don’t assume it’s a continual, linear descent into ever-increasing pain and suffering.

  8. Crew and pacers not required. Of the 115 100-milers I’ve done thus far, 111 were without pacer and about 100 without crew. They can be an asset, but race volunteers are generally awesome and you're more resourceful than you know.

  9. Hallucinations not required either. Despite their apparent romance, I’ve finished plenty without them and the most common are minor, like seeing a fluffy cat you know is a stump.

  10. You might fail. Obvious, right? Finishing requires starting, which requires being willing to risk a DNF, which is called believing in yourself. Hang onto that.

  11. Walking is not a failure. This might seem obvious but it wasn’t to me in my first 100. I spent the last twenty miles worrying I'd get disqualified for all the power-hiking I was doing - did that mean I hadn’t actually run a 100? Nope, it’s legit. And smart. Use it where you need to.

  12. Finishing is not a moment. It’s only one of 100 miles of moments. Don’t focus so hard on the finish line that you miss the experience of getting there. This unique combination of weather, people, and your fitness will never happen exactly this way, ever again.

  13. It doesn’t change your life - you do. The change is in the way you see yourself differently. You were awesome before, but now you have more proof.

  14. There's always room for improvement. Even after 115. The ever-shifting challenge is the fun of it.

  15. Being last is ok. I’ve done it. If place matters, then you’re ahead of everyone who didn’t start, didn’t sign up, and didn’t even consider it. That’s a lot of people. Besides, the last finishes are some of the best stories of the race.

This list should take some of the unknown out of the unknown.

Running a 100-mile race is a big undertaking, and the better you’re prepared for what to expect, the better your odds of finishing.

Susan Donnelly’s signature

PS - I have one opening left for a 1:1 client. With coaching, you get a 100-mile expert consultant, mindset coach, and running coach all in one - the perfect combo if your looking to finish a 100-mile race.

Email me here to set up a free consult call to ask questions and see if this is a fit for you!