When the Mind Runs Wild: Thoughts During an Ultramarathon

Ever wonder what goes through the mind during a 100-miler? Now you’ve got some insight.


Written by DBR Ambassador Jamie Marcellus

I ran my first 100-miler last year. When people hear of this, there is one question that often follows: what did you think about while running for 20 hours?

I always give the same answer: “everything and nothing.”

While the following thoughts don’t capture the full extent of the internal dialogue, it is an attempt. Here’s an idea of what runs through the mind from start corral to finish line:

Oh wow, we are doing this.

We are going too fast, slow down!

Look at the beautiful sunrise over the lake. We could stop and admire it. Nah, keep running.

Oh, first big hill…hike hike hike

Don’t forget to eat. Eat.

And drink.

Woo! First aid station – just some water, food is going well.

Put your light away.

Why haven’t you peed yet? Drink more

Ok, now its time to pee.

Weee this is so much fun! The forest is pretty.

What is with all the mud? Going to get worse throughout the day.

25k already? Wow, we are moving.

8-minute miles? Are you kidding me, we should slow it down a bit.

Woot! First 40k done, turn around time.

Whoa. A little dizzy, a little bonkish. Eat dummy.

I think I am in third place. Still lots of racing.

Aid station volunteers are so great. Make sure you thank them and smile throughout the day!

F$%k. Is my race done? Pick up your feet, don’t fall again.

Nope, we are good, legs feel ok, that was close.

50-mile turnaround, time to go back out again – feeling good.

This totally sucks. I am just going to walk it in.

My quads are shot. Why did you go out so hard. Just going to walk it in for the next 20 hours…

Hey, my wife at the aid station. Licorice tastes good! Let’s run!

Who needs music, the forest is alive!

Starting to get dark again, time to put on the headlamp

Ah crap, this hill again. One foot in front of the other.

Hey, get to pick up the pacer soon.

Wow, that sunset over the lake, so pretty.

Hands are cold. Put extra socks on hands then gloves. Still cold.

Alright, let’s run hard.

Why are you slowing down, crap forgot to eat again.

Who cares about place, I am just going to get it done. Finishing is all that matters.

Ok, who took a dump on the trail, ewww.

So much mud, this sucks.

How much farther?

Beer would be good now.

You said a mile to the next aid station a mile ago.

Ritz cheezy crackers are the perfect ultra food.

Nope, that pizza was a mistake.



That Clif Bloc was way too sweet, I feel nauseated.

No, we are going to run it in. Yes, I know I said I didn’t care about place, but I am in second. Run.

It feels like we are running 7-minute miles. Nope. 11-minute miles.

Done? Beer me!

There was also a fair amount of math, although the ability to solve math problems several hours into an ultra is minimal, in case you wondered.

I did smile the whole time, however (with the exception of that pity party at mile 60), of course. But the rest was all smiles.

Have fun, happy trails!

Thinking about signing up for a big race? Jamie also gave us tips on Training for your First Ultramarathon