Michael Henderson

Going The Extra (100) Miles

Ultra runner, Michael Henderson shares his running journey to 100-mile races.

August 3, 2020 / Michael Henderson / No Comments

My running career began 40 years ago, by training for and running a 10K…I was hooked with the sport of running after that race. 

Running was chosen as my sport of choice, at first because I could do it on my own. After running more and more, I realized that having a team of runners to train with is oftentimes the most enjoyable. After many years of running numerous races in the 5k and 10k, I made the mileage leap to the half marathon. Which, in turn, led me even further to the full marathon. It was obvious that running became an integral part of my lifestyle.

I trained with Team Playmakers for my first full marathon, Bayshore in 2004. That race resulted in a positive experience. I was then eager to run another marathon. I was unable to find a marathon that coordinated with my work schedule, so I ended up running a 50K. I was told by my best running friend, who is now my wife, that a 50K is only another 5 miles beyond the marathon…(smile). However! That 50K was the beginning of ultra racing for me.

A few years after my first 50K, my wife took her own advice and ended up training for her first 50-miler. I was able to join her second time around which led me to run my first 50-miler in 2017. At the finish line, I felt great, although a bit tired, at just over 13 hours. At the finish line, I may or may not have mentioned that I could go another 50 miles….four months later, I was on the starting line for my first 100-miler. 

Michael during his first 100-mile race

The 100-miler takes a lot of mental and physical dedication. It obviously takes time to build a foundation for the endurance of constant forward movement to complete the race in regulation time (which is usually a 30 hour cut-off). Training is a constant subconscious, balancing act of regulating nutrition, rest and, of course running. On race day, these three factors are the “tell-taleโ€ signs. 

So, now it is race day and you are at the starting line. The horn sounds, and there are 100 miles of unknown territory ahead. Emotions of doubt are passing through your head. You start to think, “what is going to keep me going for the next day and a half?”

There are always thoughts such as,”I should have done those extra 5 miles on that long run day!” Or “was my nutrition balanced enough during training?” Or “Did I get enough rest during my taper?”

With all these things going on in your mind, it is so important to have crew and pacers. These people can keep you grounded and certainly keep you going when you are at your lowest. During the bad segments of the race, the crew/pacers keep you sane and motivated. Few ultra-runners are completely happy without crew/pacers. 

There are many lessons to learn while training and running an ultra-marathon. Each race is different and has its own uniqueness. The runners’ body and physical ability might be sanctioned for the distance, but the effort to be exerted at each event requires something different. I think one of the most important things that an ultra-runner learns is patience. With proper preparations and prior planning, the finish line can be crossed! 

Michael Henderson

Michael A. Henderson, D.O. is a 1986 graduate of Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He has practiced diagnostic radiology for more than 30 years. Michael has successfully finished three 50Ks, one 50 miler and three 100 mile ultras. He would someday love to run an ultra in Iceland and run under the Northern Lights.

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