Often, people ask me why I would ever run 100 miles. The answer used to elude me... I would stumble to verbalize a response to such a seemingly simple question. Over the years i've been able to make more sense of such an apparently senseless accomplishment.
I remember my buddy telling me he was running his first 50. I was running a marathon and it was the hardest thing I'd ever tried to do. 50 seemed insane (it probably is...). He did it. He ran 50 straight miles, and struck a competitive nerve in me to immediately sign up for one myself. So much of it began simply as a challenge.
As 'grown-ups', we often get caught up in our daily lives and allow little time to grow personally. Often, time to ourselves, allows us to learn more about what makes us tick. We need to spend some time alone. We need to have time to reflect on our days, weeks, and lives. In a selfish way, for me, a nice long run can be as therapeutic as a quiet canoe ride, yoga class, or a good book. Every person should be able to lay in bed each night with some sense of accomplishment from their day. Whether you ran a marathon or left work early to read an extra book to your daughter, you should be able to at least have one thing each day that you can pat yourself on the back for. If not, get your ass out of bed and go do something.
We also tend to accept life as it is. We tend to avoid challenges, as they simply complicate our already-busy days. Without challenge, how does one grow? This isn't to say that everyone should run 100 miles. But when was the last time you did something that literallly seemed impossible? When was the last time you tested your academic or physical limits to a level beyond conception? No reward comes without sacrifice or consequence, that's just a fact of life. But the reward can be mighty...
Do you remember the ongoing jubilation you so-simply felt as a kid? When you got a new bike, when your grandparents arrived for a visit, or when your favorite tv show came on? As we grow, we tend to soften our emotions, and rarely feel the excitement we did as children. Getting a new car, a new job, or even taking a vacation, it's just not the same as it was when we were little. Some of that is a natural progression as we grow and mature (we learn Santa Claus may not be real and we can buy a new bicycle on a whim). If that's the case, then it's time to broaden the spectrum and try something new. Look at the people in your life that you admire. Spend more time with them. Figure out the people in your life who you don't respect, and consider why that's the case, so you can learn from the experience.