Extreme: this is how a 100km run feels

Last weekend, Hoka organized an attempt at the 100km World Record. But how does it really feel to run 100 kilometers? Our own Editor in Chief tried it last October and offers a blow-by-blow account of that experience:

5km: It’s going very easy and feels comfortable. I’m not thinking about anything – just “ticking away” the first kilometers. But, do I feel a blister already?

10 km: I quickly take off my shoe, just to be sure. I don’t usually get blisters during my long runs, but, this time, my foot feels hot and irritated. Not sure if this is something “mental.” Luckily, there are no blisters. Ten percent of the run is done!

15 km: I notice that my heart rate is slightly higher than usual, but that’s probably due to nerves. Strangely enough, I’m not running very well: it all feels like work today. To be honest, it feels like I’m having an off day. “Don’t think about it too much, keep your focus and just keep going,” I tell myself. So far my pace is fine, around 5:30 minutes per km, and I’m still feeling very relaxed. Every five km I make sure to take care of myself with drinks and sports nutrition.

20km: My mother joins me on the bike. Fortunately, these five kilometers go a lot easier than the previous ones. It is strange to think that you have completed 20 km … but you still have 80 km to go!

25km: It’s nice that a good friend surprises me and runs with me for a bit – a pleasant distraction. Heart rate remains a bit higher than normal, but my feet feel better and, condition-wise, I have no complaints. In general I’m very comfortable. First quarter is done.

30km: The wind is getting stronger and it starts to rain – it is pouring, actually. I’m ok with that, though – this weather suits me perfectly.

35km: So far, I’m having no trouble at all with my nutrition and physically I’m doing fine. My pace stays the same and I am approaching the end of my first marathon of the day.

40km: In two km, the first marathon will be done. I’ve been running very conservatively – under four hours, but mentally this is strange. You don’t usually keep running after this point, but today I’m not even halfway. “Don’t think about it,” I tell myself.

45km: I am definitely feeling things now – my upper leg muscles are getting stiff, but, fortunately, this doesn’t bother me … yet.

Almost half-way there!

50km: I might be at the halfway point, but the realization that I’ve been running for so long suddenly hits me. For the first time during the run I find myself struggling mentally. Was I overconfident to imagine I could run 100 km without specific training? I have only done one 50-km run! On the other hand, I knew it was going to be tough and I also knew that this moment would come. This is sooner than I expected, though.

55km: I slow down the pace a bit. I’m still running relaxed, but my pace slows to 5:40/ km. My feet are starting to annoy me, but, fortunately, I don’t have any blisters yet. I am now at the furthest point in the loop I’m running – on my way back home. That feels nice.

60km: Completely out of the blue I throw up. It lasts for a minute or less, and fortunately it doesn’t bother me. I’m able to started eating and drinking again right away, and I can feel my body reacts well to the getting some nourishment.

65km: My upper legs are starting to seriously hurt now, but my feet are really giving me a hard time. They are warm – something that normally wouldn’t bothers me. Cancel that – my feet aren’t “warm,” they are rather hot and cramped. I’m taking more time when I’m eating and drinking – walking when I’m doing that. The break does feel nice.

70km: Mentally this is the toughest moment. I’m running in the middle of nowhere and still have ten km to go before I reach a city. At that point some good friends will join me for the last 20 km. I know I am getting close to the finish, but that still means I have to run 30 more kilometers. Normally 30 km would be a long day!

75km: The pace has to be slower now. I try to run six minutes per kilometer, but that requires serious effort.

80km: In terms of pace, I’m now at my slowest – the kilometers are ticking away about 6:15 minutes per kilometer. I decide not to pay too much attention to this anymore. Every meter is a strain now. Every step feels like a direct assault on my feet and muscles.

80km down, laughing is still possible!

85km: While every kilometer feels longer, I am getting a lot of help from my company. I am still chatting and can laugh despite all the pain. I’m also starting to realize that I’m getting close to what I consider to be a great achievement. And I hit another milestone: the double marathon is done!”

90km: After ten kilometers of typical Dutch dykes, I finally turn toward the “civilized world” again. I curse myself once more for having come up with this idea, Someone suggests that I pay attention to my running posture – I growl back that, at this stage, I could care less. The only thing that counts now is getting to the finish.

95km: Wow. Only five kilometers to go. But five kilometers is damn far. It feels endless. “I must have completed another kilometer, right?” My watch shows otherwise: it was only two hundred meters. That’s what those last few kilometers felt like.

Pushing for the last 5km!

100km: “There’s the finish line!” Another hundred meters. Fifty more, twenty more. Am I really happy when I cross the finish line? Not at all. I’m too tired. Relieved? For sure. I lie down on the ground and take off my shoes. My feet are battered, my back is stiff, my legs empty and I don’t feel like doing anything for a while.

After a hot shower I recover quickly and realize: I just ran 100 kilometers! This can be crossed off my bucketlist. Here’s hoping that list stays empty for a while.