Paul Ammann, professor of electrical engineering at George Mason University, sometimes takes runs --- long runs --- like 50 or 100 miles. He also writes thoughtful notes on his experiences. A few excerpts, quoted with permission, follow.
Why Write Race Reports?
By way of example, let me address a different question: why do people gesture when they speak? One might think that a person gestures to help the audience, but in fact a person gestures to help himself. Studies test this conjecture by having a subject relate stories either sitting on his hands or gesturing. The accuracy and precision of the story improve dramatically when the subject gestures.
I write these reports because they help me understand what I do. I make them public because the exposure forces me to articulate my thoughts more carefully. That readers occasionally find them useful or amusing is a bonus.
People use the trail for many reasons, but this woman walks the trail for a very specific one. Even in my bonked state, I grasp that she walks to affirm that she can. She walks to walk.
She has my answer. I run marathons because I can. I run to run.
One of the interesting aspects of training is that it occasionally suggests an attractive model for the rest of life. There is plenty of time to mull over such models during low intensity workouts, which form the bulk of typical training schedules. Swimming balance is a great example.
It isn't hard to spot the unbalanced swimmers at the pool; it hurts simply to watch them. It isn't hard to spot who is leading unbalanced lives; similar criteria apply. A balanced life provides for accomplishment without wasted effort. As TI guru Terry Laughlin says, 'You're swimming fine.' So, how to balance life?
Perhaps drills can help. Swimming drills reduce drag. Possibly life drills reduce stress. Bookstores overflow with stress reduction prescriptions. The trick is to practice them.
and later in the same report
It is better to be lucky than good. Being good tends to beget luck, I think because less luck is necessary. Nonetheless, no one is good all the time. Sooner or later we each make our mistakes, and then luck is a very desirable commodity indeed.
To glide through half lit morning mist, to watch deer graze along the trail, to hear geese clamor their way to breakfast, to glimpse the occasional fox or heron, to sprint for sheer fun, to escape suburbia for a brief time is not boredom, but tonic. Each road crossing reminds me that the driver is caged, but I am free. Just thinking about it, I can hardly wait to go back out.
(See http://ise.gmu.edu/~pammann/reports.html for more essays by Paul Ammann.)