Why I Am Still Running Ultramarathons At Age 50
This past weekend, I completed my fourth Bear 100 race. The Bear 100 (https://bear100.com/) is a 100 mile point-to-point foot race from Logan, UT and ending at Bear Lake in Idaho. It is a burly race with 22,000 feet of climbing.
I got it done but it hurt. A lot. My last previous 100 mile race was in 2016 and the 5-year gap definitely highlighted some age-related changes. As my friend and pacer Rachel put it, “you can still do the same things you used to do as you get older, it just hurts more”. Yup.
But still, I persevered and likely will keep pursuing this crazy sport for some years to come. Why??
Motion is lotion. I preach this to my patients all of the time and truly believe it. My body feels better the more movement I get and especially long distance running/hiking seems to flush out the aches and pains. 3 days post race, I actually feel great and a few niggling pains I had been dealing with pre race are gone.
I am grateful to be able to continue. The attrition rate in ultrarunning is high, and there especially appears to be a high drop off of women over 50. Many people my age are not able to run at all any more due to accumulating injuries. Although I am much slower than I used to be, I am incredibly grateful to continue to feel good moving through big distances in the mountains, on foot. And, no, my knees don’t hurt (at all).
I like having goals and dreams to chase after and I like doing hard things. The immense satisfaction that comes after pursuing a difficult challenge, and the physical and mental endurance required to finish these races creates a great feeling of connectedness for me.
I hope this inspires athletes of any age to keep persevering, but especially older runners and athletes.
Keep moving and see you on the trails! ~ Dr. V.