For many runners completing a marathon is a remarkable achievement. However, for other runners, a marathon may become a routine activity. These runners eventually reach a turning point when they decide to try new running experiences.
We will show some of the most uncommon ways of experimenting with running, that many of their practitioners define as addictive and revelatory.
Experimenting with running quantitites
Usually, the most common way of experimentation is increasing running distances, frequency, or both at the same time. Instead of setting the goal of getting a personal best, some runners try to finish more marathons than previously done or run marathons in consecutive days/weeks.
Some runners try the “run until you drop” format, where they run consecutively the distance in kilometres (or miles) corresponding to the date, starting from the first day of the month.
Ultrarunning would be another choice of experimentation with running quantities.
Experimenting with running environments
Runners search for races in extreme environmental settings. We could mention deserts, the Arctic, the Alps, the Grand Canyon or even the North Pole.
These races usually involve a self-sufficiency approach. Besides the obligatory equipment runners must usually carry their own supplies of food and water. Running becomes an adventure sport.
Other running options
- Straight line running. This race format involves a GPS device and running the longest possible distance without deviating from a straight line by more than 100 meters. In the “escape” format runners start the race from the spot, heading in self-chosen directions. The winner is the runner who covers the longest distance within 24 hours, measured as a straight line on the map.
- Fell-running. Sometimes called hill running is a mixture of cross-country running (but with steeper gradients), mountain running (but without predetermined routes), and orienteering.
- Beer miles. It is s a 1-mile (1,609 m) race combining running and speed drinking, usually run on a standard 400 metres track. The race begins with the consumption of a 355 ml (12 US ounces) beer, followed by a lap around the track. This process is repeated every lap, until completion. World record is 4:28.1 (Corey Bellemore, Canada, October 2021).
- Everesting. Pick any hill, anywhere, and repeats a single activity until climbing 8,848m, the equivalent height of Mt Everest.
- Backyard ultra. In this race runners must consecutively run the distance of 6,706 meters (4.167 miles) in less than one hour. 24 laps are exactly 100 miles. When a lap is completed, the remaining time is used for recovery before the next hour’s race. The race ends when the last runner is unable to finish the distance within the hour. The record is 569.980 km (85 laps) (Harvey Lewis, Big Dog’s Backyard Ultra, October 2021).
Overall, many of these running experiences often involve feelings of pain, exhaustion, and self-transcendence, among others.
There are many ways of pushing your limits and intensify self-awareness, but whatever the reasons to experiment with your running, don´t forget its main goal: having fun.
The sky is the limit: run safe and be happy.
Bodies as Arenas of Experimentation: Experiencing Novel Ways of Running. Toomas Gross. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. August 1, 2021, Volume: 50 (4): 524-549