Is ultra running "Crazy"?

"You're crazy", "that's mental", "There must be something wrong with you". These are a few responses I get when I mention to some people that I might be running 20/30/50/100 miles at the weekend. I actually avoid situations now where I might have to explain this to someone who does not know.

My avoidance of these situations is mostly driven by a sense of awkwardness. What do I say in this conversation? My stock response is that it's not crazy at all, it's normal. This is why.

There are certain things that humans have had to do over the past million or so years to still be here today. Three that spring to mind are eating, having sex and covering distance on foot.

Eating, we have to put calories into our body to satisfy that which is demanded by the second law of thermodynamics which states that we will not be able to function without them. This means we have to invest a bit of time and effort to eat food. Bit inconvenient isn't it? My time would be much better spent doing something awesome like blogging. But evolution selected a neat trick, it made eating pleasurable. It gave us taste buds, a sense of smell and a feeling of satisfaction when we have a belly full of food. Searching for these pleasures stops us starving.

Sex. I got told where babies come from when I was about 5. My reaction was "eeeewwwwwwww, that is disgusting. I am never doing that' . Let's face it, if you take pleasure out of the equation that 5 year old was spot on. Without the pleasure bit sex is at best an inconvenience and at worst an awkward sticky mess (maybe I am doing it wrong). However thanks to that trick of evolution I find myself wanting to have sex quite a bit.

Running. Over the years we have had to run for numerous reasons. We ran fast to get away from predators. We run longer distances to hunt and we run/walk very long distances to migrate from place to place. These abilities have all been key in human development and yet again natural selection has come up trumps. Running is a pain isn't it? It makes your feet hurt, your legs hurt, your balls chafe(or boobs for some, or in my case both) and your eyes sting. However to sweeten the deal we have been given rewards, such as adrenaline, endorphins, the glow of satisfaction from finishing hard work or the flow from coordinated effort under your own power. Yes running a long way is pleasurable.

So how can doing something pleasurable be "crazy"? I would say doing something you know will be miserable is crazy, like listening to Coldplay or supporting Liverpool Football Club.

I am not crazy.

So next time I am stuck in such a conversation I am going to turn it around on them.

Me - "So what are you up to this weekend?"
Them -"I am going out for a nice meal with my wife and after that I will have sex with her"
Me -"That's MENTAL. What kind of dumbass would do that?"