Ingrained in our human nature is the will to push ourselves to the limit. We are never completely satisfied with the mundane, and we are constantly seeking new thrills to push ourselves one step further. The same goes for the world of running, and people just don’t seem to be satisfied with accomplishing a marathon anymore. To spice things up a beat, people are hitting the streets barefoot, competing in ridiculous races, and heading to some of the highest points imaginable to get their run on.
High Altitude Trail Running
Taking the term “runner’s high” to new heights, high altitude trail running has become all the rage recently. Running can be tiring enough, but when you are doing it at 10,000 feet above sea-level, it becomes more tiring than you could possibly imagine. At that altitude, your muscles are only working at about three-quarters of their normal power, so you really have to push yourself. So why partake in high altitude trail running in the first place? Well, after doing it for awhile, your body will produce more red blood cells as well as hemoglobin. Not to mention, there’s no place quite as beautiful to run surrounded by snow capped mountains, lush green trees, and countless wild flowers along the way.
Tough Mudder Race
According to Tough Mudders, marathon running is boring. Why would you ever want to run in a straight line for hours upon hours, when you could be getting down and dirty in mud pits and over obstacles? That’s the Tough Mudder philosophy, whose main goal is to promote a fun form of exercise that incorporates camaraderie as well as personal challenges. Just because it promotes such things as working as a team does not mean it is a cakewalk, because the 10-12 mile course is full of challenging obstacles that will push your stamina, endurance, and mental strength to their limits.
Perhaps no extreme running trend has had quite as much attention as the barefoot running craze. Thousands of people across the nation are ditching the sneakers, and instead are either running in no shoes at all, or the oxymoronic “barefoot shoes”, which are technically shoes without the arch support and cushioning. It kind of sounds like a good way to injure yourself, but these runners swear that running barefoot will actually strengthen their feet, and in the long run they will become less susceptible to foot injuries. Whatever the case, running barefoot seems a little extreme in this day and age where there are tons of great options for running shoes.
It just might be the toughest race on Earth, and every year more and more people sign up for one of the many annual Spartan Races. Ranging from the 3 mile Spartan Sprint to the 26 mile Spartan Ultra Beast, Spartan Races offer various races with different difficulty degrees, but nevertheless every single one of them will push you to your limit. Don’t show up to a Spartan Race thinking you are just going to have to run a certain distance, because each Spartan Race has a number of difficult obstacles along the way. Crawling under yards of barbed wire, jumping over pits of fire, and climbing up walls soaked in grease are just some of the obstacles you may encounter during a Spartan Race, and it is easy to see why some think it is the ultimate test of strength.